Page 4799 - Week 15 - Wednesday, 14 December 2005

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in which an action for damages must be commenced for most causes of action for damages for personal injury in relation to an adult. Amendment 1 seeks to omit subsections 16B (3) to 16B (6) of the Limitation Act 1985. These subsections were added by amendments that came into force on 9 September 2003. While the amendments did not abrogate a right of action, the amendments reduced the time in which a person had to commence an action where that action arose before 9 September 2003.

The effect of this particular amendment is to omit the 2003 amendments to the effect, as Mr Stefaniak indicated, that the provision only applies to causes of action that arose on or after 9 September 2003. To the extent that the 2003 legislation shortened the limitation period in relation to a cause of action arising prior to the commencement of amendments, this part of the 2003 amendments was essentially ineffective in any event. But Mr Stefaniak quite rightly draws attention to the inherent, or potential, unfairness of that arrangement in relation to the effect that it had on a potentially pre-existing cause of action, and I support the comments that Mr Stefaniak made in relation to that.

In relation to the late circulation of the amendment, I confess I had simply assumed that my office had circulated the amendment. So I apologise to members for that; I do genuinely apologise. It was an oversight on my part. I simply thought that it was a function that my office would have concluded, and I regret that that did not occur. So I apologise to you for that.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (11.28): The opposition, of course, will be supporting this. I note the attorney’s comments in relation to the late circulation, and certainly accept his apology there and I agree with the comments he has made in relation to his proposed amendment.

Proposed new clause 3A agreed to.

Clause 4.

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Arts, Heritage and Indigenous Affairs) (11.29): We oppose the clause. As a result of the amendments, clause 4 of Mr Stefaniak’s bill is no longer appropriate. This does not change the import or the effect of Mr Stefaniak’s intent at all. It is simply a procedural matter in relation to the drafting and the status of the bill to reflect the operation of the amendments that I have moved.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (11.29): The opposition supports the removal of clause 4. It is covered by the attorney’s amendments Nos 1 and 3.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (11.30): I have to say that, because of the lack of time, I cannot comment on the merits of the Attorney-General’s legal arguments in favour of his amendments. I am also mindful of the floodgates argument that could apply in this case and I can only hope that we do not see a spate of personal injury matters in the courts from before September 2003.

On the whole I do accept these amendments, but I do feel a little bit concerned that my office has not been able to give them the attention that I believe they deserve, so in a sense I am sort of flying a kite in that acceptance.

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