Page 912 - Week 03 - Thursday, 10 March 2005

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Justice and Community Safety Legislation Amendment Bill 2005

Detail stage

Proposed new clauses 6A and 6B.

Debate resumed.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (5.09): I seek leave to withdraw amendments Nos 1 and 2 circulated in my name on the white paper.

Leave granted.

DR FOSKEY: I seek leave to move together amendments Nos 1 and 2 circulated in my name on the green paper.

Leave granted.

DR FOSKEY: I move amendments Nos 1 and 2 [see schedule 3 at page 928].

The amendments seek to insert new clauses 6A and 6B. I thank the Assembly for adjourning the debate earlier in order for us to do some more work. It was a good reminder to me and my staff that, even if it seems certain that the government is not going to support us, we still need to do the work as if it will. I have had the amendments redrafted in a way which I believe adds to their clarity. They are marked “Revised” and were circulated on the green paper. These comments address that revision.

It is now clearer that the commissioner’s discretion revolves around public interest, and the seriousness of the crime and the time that has elapsed since conviction are the limiting factors. The seriousness of the crime is now determined by the maximum, rather than the actual, penalty. I would like to add that we are aware that the Real Estate Institute of the ACT needed more time to consider this amendment, although individual agents contacted by my office recognised the benefits of the amendment, especially for people applying to register as salespersons rather than perhaps as principal agents.

I would also like to clear up a couple of misconceptions about these amendments and their context. Firstly, they apply to all agents because this inflexible barrier to registration or licensing is specific to these professions. It is nothing much to do with the spent convictions regime; it is to do with controls over entering the profession.

It is interesting to look at the Legal Practitioners Act, which gives the law society the discretion to refuse a practising certificate for a number of reasons, including where the applicant has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment. In that way it differs from our amendment. There is, however, no requirement for the law society to refuse the application. Indeed, lawyers can have a history of doing almost anything but, if they are honest about it and their approach is accepted, nonetheless be accepted to practise as a solicitor or at the bar.

The other issue raised was one of practising agents or salespersons losing their licence or registration and then getting it reissued under this amendment. One could further amend

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