Page 1579 - Week 05 - Thursday, 8 May 2008

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sitting days for a mix of a regular core of between 10 senior and 30 ordinary panel members.

To assist the tribunal further, especially in cases where the tribunal needs specialist or technical advice, the general president may appoint assessors as required. This configuration will be sufficient to cover all expected hearings on current case levels.

In addition to members, approximately 20 staff are expected to be brought together as a result of this initiative. These staff will form the baseline staffing for the new tribunal.

The consolidated tribunal will have a number of separate divisions, reflecting the different matters heard in the current ACT tribunals.

The divisions will initially consist of administrative review, civil disputes, occupational discipline and a general division; however, the tribunal may, and no doubt will, create other divisions necessary to deal with the needs of particular client groups.

While appeal from the tribunal to the Supreme Court will be allowable—with, of course, the leave of the court—to reduce the incidence of appeals to the Supreme Court and to enable the tribunal to best control the quality of its decisions, the legislation provides for internal review of tribunal decisions by presidential members in the first instance.

The process of establishing the new tribunal is necessarily complex. While some of the legislative changes in relation to all tribunals can take place quickly after commencement of the new law, the timing of the physical co-location of court-based tribunals and jurisdictions is dependent upon other processes, so transitional provisions will allow for the staggered consolidation of these tribunals.

Transitional provisions will also allow for the transfer of matters that have already commenced to the new tribunal in accordance with past ACT practice.

This is a significant reform proposed by the government, designed to enhance and improve access to justice for the citizens of the ACT. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

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

Housing Assistance Amendment Bill 2008

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) (11.07): I move:

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