Page 1056 - Week 03 - Thursday, 26 February 2009

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Executive business—precedence

Ordered that executive business be called on.

Justice and Community Safety Legislation Amendment Bill 2009

Debate resumed from 12 February 2009, on motion by Mr Corbell:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (11.11): With some reservations the opposition will support most of the elements of this bill. But we will be opposing the two elements relating to the validation laws. I have suggested to members an alternative approach to this but I understand that I would not be able to suspend standing orders to do this. So I will just speak about what would be a better approach, rather than going down that path.

In most cases the amendment bill would make changes that are technical in nature, bring pieces of legislation into better alignment with others or clarify areas of uncertainty. However, most of these amendments would not be necessary were the Stanhope-Gallagher government able to think things out properly before legislation is brought into this place.

A prime example of that is the amendments to the Children and Young People Act. These amendments might not have been necessary had not the approach to the Children and Young People Act when it passed last year been such a dog’s breakfast. At the time, I spoke about the fact that it was unnecessary to have all of this legislation in one 800-page document, and I have congratulated the Department of Justice and Community Safety for succeeding in eventually extracting all of the material relating to sentencing out of the Children and Young People Act and putting it in the sentencing legislation where it belongs. Some of the issues that we are amending here today are issues that were concerns to me, that I raised in briefings and was told that it was all right. Yet we are back here amending them today.

I also think that we would have solved some of these problems in relation to the Children and Young People Act if the government had agreed to refer this matter to a committee, which is what I had asked for at the time. I was told that the bill had been consulted, consulted and consulted on again, that it had been studied to death and that all the problems had been ironed out. But we are here today, about six months after the bill was passed and before it comes into operation, doing fix-ups that had been foreshadowed as problems by the Liberal opposition.

There is an amendment relating to the Domestic Violence and Protection Orders Act. This amendment widens an already broad definition of “relevant person” to include persons who were formerly in a personal relationship, irrespective of whether those persons are living together. We would contend that the public has a perception about legislation whose name suggests that it protects people in domestic arrangements and

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