Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 01 Hansard (Tuesday, 12 February 2008) . . Page.. 102 ..
I accept that this is a time-consuming and inefficient practice and consistency, I suppose, is important. In a way it is a bit of an impost on the applicant to have to go down that path as well, although, because now in most areas where licence checks are necessary the applicant does have to do that, I can see the logic there, and for consistency’s sake that is probably sensible.
I think the attorney said the office has to accept forms and money for the criminal record check, forward the forms and money to the police, field calls from applicants about the progress of their police record check and audit the payment of fees, so it is probably a six of one and half a dozen of the other equation there and, given that that provision is already in a lot of legislation and the fact that we are talking probably thousands of applications a year, that is a logical step as well. Accordingly, the opposition will be supporting this legislation.
MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (5.52): I speak in support of this bill. The measures that it introduces appear to be non-controversial measures and I welcome the opportunity to address and amend discrepancies in existing legislation. The only other observation that I have, before discussing the specific changes, is to marvel at just how much regulation we seem to have. One must wonder whether it is all necessary and whether some of it might be superfluous, but it is necessary, nevertheless. We must consider the various changes and I will take a little time in the minutes remaining to go through each of them.
The bill amends the Agents Act to allow the Commissioner for Fair Trading to take disciplinary action against agents who breach the act, including suspending their licence, without requiring the agent to have been convicted of an offence under the act. I had some initial reservations about the process but I am persuaded that this is a sensible change. The granting and suspension of licences is a matter that is not normally an adjunct of the criminal law. Whilst criminal convictions for offences under the act would indeed be grounds for disqualification of a licence, there is no reason that the grounds for disqualification should be limited to criminal conviction under the act.
Prosecutions for criminal offences involve a higher standard of proof than for civil matters such as licensing and are, by their nature, weighted to ensure that there is minimal chance of incorrect conviction. In civil matters such as the granting or suspension of licences it is appropriate that civil law should apply, with the civil standard of proof.
I note that there are means by which a licensee or prospective licensee can present their case to the commissioner if there is some question as to whether they have breached or are breaching the fair trading legislation. The decision to refuse an agent’s licence is also a reviewable decision under the act. I am satisfied that there are sufficient protections in the act to ensure that agents are not subject to arbitrary rule in these matters.
The amendment to the births, deaths and marriages registration seems to be a sensible amendment which will now ensure that when a person changes their name the