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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 09 Hansard (Tuesday, 18 August 2009) . . Page.. 3195 ..

consider these matters and not treat this Assembly and the people of Canberra in such a shabby manner.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (11.47): I rise today to support this bill, and I wish to make a few brief comments. This is the 21st in a series of bills described as making minor and technical amendments to portfolio legislation. Whilst the amendments themselves may be minor and technical, the rationale behind some of the amendments is worthy of discussion today.

The telemarketing amendments will be of immediate community benefit, and I will talk briefly about those. Telemarketing, for good or bad, appears to be with us for the long haul. As a result, people who receive calls from telemarketers need to be very clear about their rights. This bill will amend the Door-to-Door Trading Act 1991 to ensure that telemarketers fully inform potential customers of their rights before they enter into a contract. This makes for good consumer protection, and the Greens will be supporting these amendments.

Some of the specific obligations put onto telemarketers by these amendments would appear to be widely practised by the industry currently, and I acknowledge those who do already set a higher standard. However, that is certainly no reason not to make the amendments. The role of legislation in consumer protection is unfortunately sometimes to set the minimum standards that must be adhered to by all market participants. In the context of telemarketing, consumer protection laws must protect the unsuspecting public from any unscrupulous telemarketing operators that exist now or in the future. In this sense, the amendments are aimed at the minority of telemarketers, not the majority. That is the nature of consumer protection, and the Greens support this initiative.

The amendments will remove any confusion that may exist currently and require telemarketers to fully introduce themselves at the start of a call and explain to the customer their right to rescind any contract they enter into within the 10-day cooling-off period. These are two practical ways in which the amendments will make for better informed customers who are more aware of their rights before entering into any contract over the phone.

Another aspect that this bill raises that is worthy of discussion are the provisions relating to arrest warrants for witnesses in the Magistrates Court. Arrest warrants for witnesses are issued at the discretion of the court, and that is an important principle that this amendment retains. The discretion to arrest a witness in order for them to be brought to court and provide evidence is a very important decision indeed. At the heart of such a decision will be contradictory factors. On the one hand, the interests of the witness will generally point towards no arrest warrant being issued. Witnesses may not wish to attend court for a large range of reasons, and arresting them will be a last resort. On the other hand, broader interests of justice considerations will point towards the witness being brought before the court. The court system relies on relevant evidence being put before the court, and the most responsible decisions of the court will be made after all relevant evidence has been tendered.

This amendment recognises the importance of a decision to arrest a witness and sets out clearly the factors that a court must consider when deliberating on such a decision.

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