Page 2448 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 1 July 2008
community—to reassess how seriously we take our responsibilities as a community towards our children. The aim of this legislation is to ensure that our children are better off. I hope that this is what it does.
This bill is intended to replace the Children and Young People Act 1999. The Children and Young People Act provided for an operational review three years after that act commenced—in 2002. The results of the operational review have been a long time coming. They have been helped along, in some cases slowly—in saying that I do not mean to be critical about it—by a number of major reviews and some amendments along the way.
This review has been informed by a huge amount of investigation and inquiry—things like the inquiry into the rights, interests and wellbeing of children and young people by the Standing Committee on Community Services and Social Equity in August 2003, The territory as parent, known as the Vardon report, The territory’s children, known as the Murray report, and the Human rights audit of Quamby Youth Detention Centre, just to name few.
As a result of those inquiries and the others that went with them, we have seen an iterative change in the way we deal with children and young people. We have seen in 2005, 2006 and 2007 a range of amendments to the Children and Young People Act which have, amongst other things, provided for the making of standing orders for places of detention, expanded the regulation-making power under the act, introduced new principles to help families to understand care and protection procedures, instituted the process of cultural planning for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people, changed the rules and made some exceptions for mandated reporters, dealt with prenatal reporting of young women at risk, which is an initiative on which I particularly congratulate the government, and a revised search and seizure scheme for Quamby Youth Detention Centre.
In supporting this bill, I put on the record that we do so despite some serious reservations. This is an extraordinarily large piece of legislation; without doubt, it is the largest piece of legislation, at 752 pages and about 281 pages of explanatory statement. It is an extraordinarily complex piece of legislation. In addition, there are consequential amendments.
There are some issues regarding the process, the content and the structure of this legislation, as well as substantive issues in the legislation, about which the opposition has considerable concern. I will start with the process. The government has said that it has undertaken extensive consultation with the community, and I do not disagree with that. It is quite clear that there has been extensive consultation with the community. It seems that the only people that the government is not prepared to consult with are the members of this place. It is a rarity for this government, since it has become a majority government, and arrogant in that majority government status, to refer matters to committees. I know that both Dr Foskey and I, at various stages, have requested that this matter be referred to a committee and the government has steadfastly refused to do so.
There have been, to my knowledge, two briefings of the education and young people committee in relation to this bill, but there has been no inquiry. I cannot think of a