Page 3194 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 18 August 2009

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unsolicited selling by telephone in the same way as door-to-door selling for the purposes of contract cooling-off periods. The Legal Aid Act 1977, amongst other things, introduces amendments to establish a board of the commission, to rewrite the provisions relating to services provided by private practitioners, and to establish dispute resolution provisions. The ACT Magistrates Court Act 1930 is amended to substitute a new division 3.4.2 in relation to warrants for witnesses to make it more compliant with human rights law.

Madam Deputy Speaker, whilst we support the amendments that this bill will introduce, we once again have a situation where omnibus legislation is used to introduce substantial amendments which really should be dealt with in stand-alone legislation. I have said before in this place that omnibus legislation should be used to make amendments which are minor or technical in nature or which serve to clarify simple points of law. Substantive amendments, such as we have with these three acts, should be given consideration in stand-alone legislation.

Indeed, only last February the government introduced the first of the JACS amendment bills for 2009 in which was hidden corrections of serious administrative blunders by the Attorney-General. These blunders related to illegal statutory appointments that should never have been swept under the carpet of omnibus legislation.

The amendments in the three acts I have outlined, while not controversial on this occasion, are nevertheless substantial. They have a significant impact on the way that business is done in the territory, how the legal profession can assist the government in the area of legal aid and how witnesses are treated by the legal system. Indeed, the Legal Aid Commission spoke at length during the estimates process about about the amendments in relation to the Legal Aid Act and how important they were. They received considerable coverage in the media at the time, and, given the important changes that are being bought about by the amendments to the Legal Aid Act, they should have been stand-alone amendments to that legislation. They are not simple or technical or minor in their impact. Indeed, the scrutiny of bills committee singled out these three amendments for particular comment, as well as the amendments to the Machinery Act.

Notwithstanding this, I believe the Attorney General’s response adequately addresses the issues raised by the committee, and their mere mention reinforces the fact that they are substantive amendments. Importantly, there is nothing in the Attorney-General’s presentation speech or the explanatory memorandum that would indicate what consultation processes have been undertaken in relation to these amendments. Perhaps there have been none. I would not be surprised if that was not the case. The only mention of any consultation relates to the amendments to the Association Incorporation Act, which came about from recommendations of the report by the public accounts committee of the Sixth Assembly, Review of Auditor-General’s report No 1 of 2006: regulation of charitable collections & incorporated associations.

The amendments to the Door-to-Door Trading Act, the Legal Aid Act, and the Magistrates Court Act should have been brought to the Assembly as individual amendments to their own legislation. I hope that this government will in future

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