Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 03 Hansard (Thursday, 10 March 2005) . . Page.. 853 ..
glasses. It will certainly create much more flexibility and certainly benefit and assist non-profit organisations, too.
I have had some representations from the retail industry, which is a very competitive industry. For example, in my own electorate, the attorney’s and yours, Mr Speaker, of Belconnen, we have a plethora of liquor outlets. We have had a very big player come into the market in Dan Murphy’s wine sales. It is a very competitive business. Lots of small businesses are concerned about that and are worried that this might be in some way a foot in the door which might open the floodgates. I certainly hope that that will not happen and that the fears will be proved to be groundless, but it is something the opposition will be carefully watching. I suggest that the Assembly, including the government, should do the same. I just make that point.
It has been mentioned, too, that there might be some GST issues. Obviously, there are a number of concerns there in relation to the various retail outlets. We need to be mindful of those, but certainly on the positive side this will provide significant assistance and greater flexibility and be very popular with the public at these particular events. It will certainly assist charities as well.
The bill will add a new definition of “Australian diplomatic or consular representative” to section 11 of the Oaths and Affirmations Act. It basically broadens the class of people who can administer an oath or affirmation to include consular representatives, employees of the commonwealth and employees of the Australian Trade Commission. That is consistent with the definition in the Consular Fees Act of the commonwealth and is again a simple amendment. As I indicated, the opposition will be supporting this bill.
DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (11.16): The Justice and Community Safety Legislation Amendment Bill amends a number of acts, more or less for housekeeping purposes. It removes an accidental requirement from the Agents Act that has meant that a travel agent who is registered but who works for another agent as perhaps a branch manager is required to contribute to the travel compensation fund to which the principal of the agency contributes. That is a fairly simple clean-up and we support it.
I foreshadow a couple of amendments to the Agents Act. They concern the licensing provisions for real estate agents that exclude any applicant found guilty of a dishonesty offence. My amendments are designed to give the commissioner some discretion in dealing with people found guilty of minor offences some years ago. Real estate agents do have responsibility for significant amounts of clients’ money, so we need to be very cautious about how much discretion or flexibility we build into the system. After all, it is not as if real estate agents are blessed with a public reputation for integrity and scrupulousness, as opposed to, say, politicians or journalists. On the other hand, someone who is well informed or has their wits about them or understands the possible consequences of a conviction for a minor offence could contest the matter. I will go further into those amendments at the detail stage
The bill removes a redundant section of the Evidence Act and brings the Oaths and Affirmations Act into line with commonwealth legislation by broadening the range of people able to administer oaths and affirmations. These are both minor amendments. Changes to the Justice of the Peace Act are more significant. There have been some concerns that anyone can be appointed a justice of the peace, with no real criteria or