Page 3500 - Week 09 - Thursday, 21 August 2008

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there. I also had individual briefings with very learned lawyers like Mr John Little, who is in the gallery, and his partner Craig Edwards. They are two of the lawyers who specialise in this area.

Generally, in the ACT I think we have been pretty well served. Whilst about 20 per cent of all claims go in costs, medical fees, lawyers fees, et cetera, the victims probably get a hell of a lot more than they tend to get in Victoria and New South Wales. I understand that, for example, in New South Wales something like 66 per cent goes off to the insurance company. So we are starting from a fairly good base here.

One of the biggest problems, it seems to me, from what I am advised, has been a lack of any real consultation. I thank the government for having the bill debated today, because if there is to be any change at all, it has to be done before 26 August, which is next Tuesday. Effectively, it would have commenced before we next sit. That is why it is an urgent bill. I thank the government and the Chief Minister for allowing it to be debated today; that is very important.

I understand from the briefing by the departmental officers—and I thank the government for making them available and for the time they spent—that they have undertaken to get the regulations out to the profession today. I think the Chief Minister alluded to that in his speech. I certainly hope that has occurred. There is a very narrow window of opportunity with respect to the government’s amendment. Hopefully, people should now be getting my rather rushed amendment which would extend the date. I will come to that in a moment.

On 1 October we will be in the middle of the caretaker period. If there are any problems and anything needs to be changed urgently—and I can be corrected here—we have only until 12 September, when the caretaker period starts. So there will have to be some very heavy, detailed and quick consultation if there are any things that urgently need to be attended to. I suspect that may well be the case.

I can understand the Chief Minister’s urgency in getting this up and running. I can understand some of the pressures there in terms of windows of opportunity and getting the scheme up and running, but it is important to get it right. I am now circulating a further amendment which basically proposes a middle date—a date which will enable us to go past the caretaker period and into the next Assembly. Traditionally, when you have an October election, the Assembly has its first fair-dinkum one-week sitting in late November or early December. My amendment would at least allow any necessary legislative changes to be made then. We would be well and truly out of the caretaker period. There would be a new government; the Seventh Assembly would be in place and able to do whatever was necessary.

My proposal, which you should now have before you, is an amendment to substitute 1 January for 1 October, which I hope would be the best of both worlds. It would give us enough time to get over that caretaker period, to have enough time for good consultation and make sure that any bugs are ironed out, yet it is soon enough to ensure that some of the problems alluded to by Treasury officials and the Chief Minister do not come to pass because it is still a relatively short period of time. But it does give us that additional sitting week in which any problems could be ironed out, if necessary. I commend that amendment to the Assembly.

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