Page 4886 - Week 15 - Thursday, 15 December 2005

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to make it and the recipient has a corresponding interest or duty to receive it. Submissions strongly supported the retention of the common law, and the majority favoured giving some guidance to the courts as to when the conduct of a publisher would be considered reasonable.

The bill explicitly protects expressions of opinion that are genuinely held about matters of public interest. All submissions supported the proposal that an opinion need not be one that a “reasonable person” might have formed. The common law defence of innocent dissemination is retained, supplemented by provisions in the bill which recognise that some parties involved in the distribution of material, such as booksellers and internet service providers, have no effective control over the material they distribute and should not be liable in defamation.

The bill requires that damages awarded to plaintiffs have an appropriate and rational relationship to the harm they have suffered. Damages for non-economic loss are capped, and this amount will be adjusted annually by reference to the formula laid out in the bill.

The bill would set a limitation period of one year from commencement of civil defamation actions. Early correction, restoration of reputation and resolution of defamation disputes is in the interests of the parties and the public.

The explanatory statement I have tabled adopts some of the explanatory notes drafted by an interstate parliamentary counsel, in consultation with Parliamentary Counsels Committee, and I commend the bill to the Assembly.

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

Children and Young People Amendment Bill 2005 (No 2)

Mr Stanhope, on behalf of Ms Gallagher, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Acting Clerk.

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Arts, Heritage and Indigenous Affairs) (10.43): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

The Children and Young People Act 1999 provided for an operational review within three years of the act’s commencement. A comprehensive review has been undertaken, involving extensive community consultation, and this has resulted in a two-phased reform process. The first phase proposes amendments to the principles of the act, as well as in the areas of care and protection and information protection. The reports which reviewed child protection practice and management in the ACT, undertaken by Commissioner Vardon and Ms Gwen Murray, have informed the review in regard to the principles and practices relating to care and protection of children and young people.

The best interests principle will remain the paramount consideration for decision-makers across the ACT, except for young offenders. The general principles will be applied

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