Page 896 - Week 03 - Thursday, 30 March 2006

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Transfers and transactions involving partnership interests and goods will no longer be liable for duty on goodwill, intellectual property and statutory licences or permissions. The budget impact of these measures will see an annual impact of $2 million on the bottom line. I thank members for their support of this legislation and commend the bill to the Assembly.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.

Criminal Code (Mental Impairment) Amendment Bill 2006

Debate resumed from 16 February 2006, on motion by Mr Stanhope:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (5.04): Since 1994 we have had the issue of mental impairment and how it relates to the courts and to therapeutic services. It has been a vexed question but some important steps were taken in the last couple of years as a result of some significant problems involving a number of cases—notably the King case, which has still not been solved satisfactorily. That case showed clearly that the system in operation was subject to abuse. There were definitional problems and there were mix-ups as to who should do what. There were roles being undertaken by non-legal professionals which should properly be undertaken by a court of law where people can be cross-examined and a where a judge or magistrate can make an assessment of the relative merits of the case in front of them and the relative merits of the witnesses in front of them, more particularly in relation to this. The last thing we on this side would want to see is people falsely claiming to have mental problems escaping criminal justice.

We were also keen to see that people involved in the justice system who have general medical health problems are properly treated both in that system and as far as therapeutic protection is concerned. Accordingly, we were very happy in February 2004 when the Chief Minister directed the chief executive of his department to set up an interdepartmental committee to examine all aspects in relation to the care and custody of people with mental health issues who came into contact with the criminal justice system.

The committee was also charged with examining any requirement for the provision of facilities, including step-down or forensic mental health facilities, in the ACT. There might still be a few problems with those facilities, but that was a good step forward. Six key initiatives were announced as a result of that, the first of which was expressed as the application of different definitions to criminal justice and mental health treatment matters. The foreshadowed definition of “mental impairment” in the Criminal Code 2002 will apply to criminal law matters, while definitions for therapeutic matters are to remain in the Mental Health (Treatment and Care) Act 1994, where they should be.

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