Page 2882 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 5 August 2008

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MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (4.42): This bill is the 18th or 19th in a series which I think I might have started. It again makes minor amendments to various acts and regulations. In this instance, it is 11 acts and regulations in the JACS portfolio. Some of these amendments are quite important, though I can probably see why they were done in this particular bill. They are certainly timely. This particular bill has some quite important amendments—more than we normally see in legislation such as this.

The first main amendment relates to the Administration and Probate Act. It extends from three to six months the time within which a will must be proved or probate renounced. That seems to be a sensible amendment, as indeed is an amendment to the act to include “civil partners” being entitled to benefits in situations of intestacy, as a consequence of the Civil Partnerships Act 2008. It is something we are always keen to see in terms of things like registration schemes and the benefits that accrue as a result of those.

The Agents Act has been amended. It requires the minister only to make an annual determination to increase the money held in the agents occupational registration consumer compensation fund when necessary, instead of having to go through the formalities of making a nil determination, which would seem to be a bureaucratic nonsense.

The Civil Law (Sales of Residential Property) Regulation 2004 has been amended to ensure that the Australian standards always refer to the most recent versions. There are consequential changes so that obligations on ACT inspectors in relation to reporting do not change.

The Civil Law (Wrongs) Act 2002 has been amended too. A new part has been put in to provide protection under certain circumstances for civil liability to businesses that donate food for charitable purposes. Persons harmed by the consumption of donated food will be able to take action against the charity that distributed the food. The explanatory memorandum says that this is consistent with New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia.

I must admit that when I first saw it I wondered whether it was such a good idea, since the charity is doing it all in good faith. It particularly impacts on Communities@Work, which operates OzHarvest, a charitable food service. I am told that Communities@Work is fully supportive of this amendment. On that basis, it would seem to be a reasonable protection. They are the ones who do it. It seems to be quite sensible on that basis; they are the ones who are going to have to ensure that it occurs, and that is fine.

The Crimes Act is amended—an amendment to resolve the contradiction that arises at law with regard to whether a rape offender was reckless as to whether the victim had consented to sexual intercourse or whether the offender had sexual intercourse knowing the victim had not consented. The effect is that the DPP can lead evidence which satisfies knowledge or recklessness without having to conduct separate prosecutions of the two and without having to elect the mental element in advance of the trial, consistent with the common law and the Criminal Code.

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