Page 2688 - Week 07 - Thursday, 3 July 2008

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undertake sufficient legal training, which is the new provision. The appointee must have completed the required legal training before being assigned to convene a restorative justice conference. This will broaden the opportunities for people in our community who are not lawyers but who might have experience in other relevant areas such as mental health or people skills to be appointed as restorative justice conference convenors. It will enable such appointees to undertake further training to equip them with the particular skills required to be assigned to individual cases.

The bill also makes a number of minor amendments to the Human Rights Commission Act to update the legislation to reflect the operational requirements of the commission and also to clarify some areas of uncertainty. Importantly, the amendments will enable commissioners to delegate their functions not only to commission staff members but also to other commissioners. This recognises the collegiate style of the commission’s structure and creates further efficiencies in dealing with these matters.

The amendments also provide that the commission need not consider a complaint, or notify people complained about, if inappropriate; for example, where a complaint is frivolous, vexatious or not made honestly, or cannot be made by the complainant under the act. In addition, the commission will be required to close a complaint made to it if the complaint has been resolved and if the complaint has been dealt with to the commission’s satisfaction. It may also refer matters that fall within the jurisdiction of another person or body.

The bill creates new business opportunities, too, by picking up on the venture capital reform initiative of the former Howard government to recognise early-stage venture capital limited partnerships in the Partnership Act 1963.

The Residential Tenancies Act is also amended by this bill, primarily to address a narrow interpretation given in a recent Supreme Court case to the effect that the Residential Tenancies Tribunal can only evict tenants when their rents are in arrears. This has left landlords, including Housing ACT, with eviction and possession as their only apparent remedy when faced with breach of a lease. These amendments are reasonable and would relieve the need for landlords to take all other eviction matters to court rather than to the Residential Tenancies Tribunal.

Finally, the bill amends the Victims of Crime (Financial Assistance) Act to include culpable driving and sexual servitude offences in the table of violent crimes for the purposes of the act. That is a positive step forward, not only by recognising the violent nature of these offences but also by providing a better vehicle for dealing with offenders who commit these crimes.

In summary, the bill creates, in addition to minor amendments, efficiencies in the handling of restorative justice, efficiencies in the handling of human rights matters, opportunities for investors in start-up Australian innovation enterprises, more certainty for tenants and landlords in matters before the RTT, and more certainty for victims of crime. I will talk about the government amendment when we get to it; we do see some problems there. So the Liberal Party supports the bill.

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