Page 3519 - Week 09 - Thursday, 21 August 2008

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Detail stage

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (8.21): I move amendment No 1 circulated in my name [see schedule 3 at page 3547] and table a supplementary explanatory statement to the amendments and also, for the record, a revised explanatory statement on the bill.

Clause 2 of the bill provides that the commencement date for the act is a day fixed by the minister by written notice. Where a date has not been fixed within the period of six months from the date of notification, the act will automatically commence on the first day after this period as a consequence of section 79 of the Legislation Act 2001. Government amendment No 1 amends clause 2 to remove the operation of section 79 of the Legislation Act 2001. The government amendment provides that the act will automatically commence on the day following a period of nine months from notification. Allowing a longer period before automatic commencement will ensure that the infrastructure and procedures necessary for implementing the amendments are in place. This highlights and refutes the claims that the government is ramming this legislation through.

Some of the things that need to be done include the fitting out of the remote witness facility, improvements in court technology and training for police. The automatic commencement provision will be consistent with the Court Legislation Amendment Bill, which makes similar amendments in relation to committal proceedings.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (8.23): In rising here, I speak to all the government amendments. We are very happy that the government have made these changes to the bill. It shows that they have listened to at least one of the problems raised by the community since the bill was tabled—arguably, one of the most fundamental of the many issues that I have been made aware of—and that is changing the definition of violent offences.

There is a very comprehensive definition in the next government amendment. It is important because the definition is the key to ensuring that the restrictions placed on the court’s discretion and the rights of the accused apply only in cases where the victim is obviously in need of additional protection. They might be instances of sexual assault or domestic violence. I had been in the process of drafting my own amendment to this definition, but I feel that the government’s changes are adequate and work towards improving the court process for all involved. Therefore, I will be supporting all the government’s amendments.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (8.24): Just very briefly, I would like the minister to explain why we are going for nine months rather than six. I do not have a serious problem with the definition of violent offender, but in the explanatory memorandum I do not think he has quite explained why we now have a nine-month period instead of a six-month period for notification. I might have missed something there, but could you just clarify that.

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