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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 21 September 2006) . . Page.. 3007 ..

in July 2010. This bill also has provisions that move some definitions to the dictionary to allow for the future expiry of chapters 5 and 6 and omit other redundant provisions of the Duties Act at the various abolition dates. I commend the Duties Amendment Bill 2006 (No 2) to the Assembly.

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

Powers of Attorney Bill 2006

Mr Corbell, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for Planning) (10.40): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I am pleased to present to the Assembly the Powers of Attorney Bill 2006. The Powers of Attorney Bill will modernise the powers of attorney regime in the ACT and significantly enhance the rights of Canberrans to authorise someone to make decisions for them. Essentially, the scheme under the Powers of Attorney Act 1956 is half a century old, and the concept of enduring powers of attorney was included in the act nearly 15 years ago. The Powers of Attorney Bill brings the ACT scheme in line with updated powers of attorney schemes in other jurisdictions such as Queensland and New South Wales, while also incorporating novel features.

People are now more aware of, and interested in, substitute decision making than they were 50 years ago. Business and family affairs are conducted through powers of attorney. People should have confidence in the law to protect their rights when they give powers to someone else to make decisions for them, irrespective of whether such decisions are made when they are out of Canberra or when they lose their decision-making capacity. The Powers of Attorney Bill will strengthen that confidence.

The Powers of Attorney Bill implements the outcome of a comprehensive review undertaken by the ACT government into the substituted decision-making scheme. In 2001, the Legislative Assembly Standing Committee on Health and Community Care, in its report on the inquiry into elder abuse in the ACT, identified the need to make changes to the powers of attorney regime. The government, in its response to the report, agreed to implement the report’s recommendations.

Even though the standing committee’s recommendations were meant to address the need to prevent abuse of older people’s powers of attorney, it became clear that the recommendations could be addressed only by reviewing the entire scheme of the powers of attorney. Consequently, the government released for public consultation an issues paper on substituted decision making in March 2004. The issues paper examined issues relating to powers of attorney and advanced health directives. The Powers of Attorney Bill implements the outcome of the review.

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