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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 15 Hansard (Wednesday, 14 December 2005) . . Page.. 4850 ..

(2) on the Committee presenting its report to the Assembly, resumption of debate on the question “That this Bill be agreed to in principle” be set down as an order of the day for the next sitting.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (4.23): I think it probably is a very good idea that the bill be referred to the committee. The scrutiny of bills committee did have a number of concerns, and Dr Foskey wrote a letter as a result of those, which is in the current scrutiny report. For members’ benefit, the scrutiny report which looked at the bill initially is scrutiny report No 16 dated 19 September 2005.

There are obviously a number of issues in relation to this bill. I see the point that Dr Foskey is trying to make. I suppose a preliminary observation from the opposition would be that we have a fairly robust system where, if you have totally spurious pieces of litigation, with people simply trying to delay, there is at present the ability for courts to strike out matters for things like want of prosecution. Significant costs orders, of course, will be incurred by people who take on litigation and then lose it. That can cause considerable difficulties for people who are listed as the defendants in that particular type of civil litigation as well; hence, I understand what she is trying to do.

There are, of course, human rights issues involved, which the scrutiny report mentions. I am not going to go into those. They are important issues, though, which the committee will no doubt look at. It is a problem, I suppose. I have occasionally said in this place in the past that, certainly in the criminal law, there are problems where people, for example, make wrongful complaints and malicious complaints against police. Many of the complaints against police are actually knocked out quite easily by the ombudsman, simply because they are made almost as a matter of course and there is no substance to them. Perhaps we also need to look at, in the criminal law, for example, some sort of offence. It would not have to carry a huge penalty, but some sort of deterrent for people who maliciously make complaints against police and other office holders which have no substance, which are quite easily proved to have no substance, yet cause all sorts of problems, delays and angst, too, to innocent people who are the subject of those malicious complaints.

Similarly, in terms of domestic violence legislation, there are occasions where the complaints also have no foundation. Again, there is no disincentive to people making those types of complaints. So I think this is an area where probably a lot more can be done in other areas of the law, apart from just what Dr Foskey is doing here, and that is something I commend to other Assembly members. But the opposition does support this bill being sent to the legal affairs committee and, as chair of that committee, I look forward to the inquiry.

Motion agreed to.

Civic Development Authority Bill 2005

Debate resumed from 21 September, on motion by Mr Seselja:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

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