Page 978 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 15 March 2005

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must use the ACT public trustee as the exclusive trustee of the perpetual care trusts under the Public Trustee Act 1985. Current operators will be required to relinquish their current roles as trustees of the perpetual care trust investments they currently have with ADIs—for example, banks. This will allow trust funds to earn higher rates of return, closer to commercial rates of return in pooled investments managed by the public trustee.

When the overall PCT percentages for maintenance are calculated, the percentages for the PCT reserve also will be calculated and determined by the minister. Operators must ensure that an amount equivalent to the PCT reserve percentage remains in the PCT fund at the end of each respective five-year, or shorter, planning period and that these PCT reserve deposit amounts must not subsequently be drawn down without the express approval of the minister. It is these PCT reserve amounts that will accumulate in the PCT fund and which will guarantee maintenance in perpetuity after a cemetery or crematorium closes.

The PCT percentages and the PCT reserve percentages for each cemetery or crematorium must be reviewed at least every five years and be redetermined by the minister, if necessary. This provides for the need to respond to overall changes in business conditions in the industry, to changes in maintenance regimes and for the purchase of major equipment. I commend this bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Pratt) adjourned to the next sitting.

Legal Aid Amendment Bill 2005

Debate resumed from 17 February 2005, on motion by Mr Stanhope:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR SESELJA (Molonglo) (10.44): The Legal Aid Office in the ACT provides a high-quality service for the people of the ACT. It often runs on a relatively shoestring budget and, despite the constraints on it of both ACT and commonwealth finances, it manages to provide an excellent service to its clients.

To ensure better operations and flexibility, the commissioner has proposed a number of amendments to the legislation. These amendments should assist in improving the service to clients and also assist in allowing the commission to determine the limited finances it does have with greater certainty. It is important to ensure that the Legal Aid Office is able to budget more accurately.

The opposition is pleased to see that these amendments will allow legal assistance for discrete actions in the court process as well as for whole matters. This allows for greater flexibility by the commission and will assist the consumer. The provision by the commission of minor legal assistance for tasks such as filling in forms and letter writing will assist many of the clients of the Legal Aid Office. These are simple tasks, but they make a huge difference to a lot of the clients who would not be able to do so themselves.

The bill also ensures that the commission can have greater control over legal assistance in the rare cases that are likely to have a significant financial impact. It provides for applications to be referred directly to the commission in these cases. The bill also

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