Page 3444 - Week 09 - Thursday, 20 August 2009

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I am aware that, in its recent report, the scrutiny of bills committee commented upon the amendments that I have discussed earlier which enable the court to appoint a suitable person to act as a conduit to ask the questions the accused wants to put to the witness, in circumstances where a self-represented accused person has not engaged a legal representative to examine the witness.

The committee has appropriately drawn to the attention of the Assembly that the prohibition already existing in the Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1991, introduced by the Sexual and Violent Offences Legislation Amendment Act 2008, engages human rights. The human rights issues engaged by the prohibition were extensively considered in the explanatory statement to this bill, and I thank the committee for drawing members’ attention to this discussion. I agree with the recommendation of the committee that the explanatory statement for the bill we are debating today would be enhanced by a reference to this human rights discussion. Accordingly, I table a revised explanatory statement to that effect.

A further technical amendment contained in the bill is the removal of the requirement that witness statements include a clause stating that the author is over the age of 18. Changes to the Evidence Act that determine the competence of the author of written statements have overtaken this historical requirement that written statements only be made by adults, so this requirement is removed by the bill.

The government understands the importance of a responsive criminal justice system. This bill underlines this understanding and contains amendments that will continue to improve upon an already efficient and effective criminal justice process here in the ACT.

I thank members again for their support for the bill, and I commend it to the Assembly.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.

Sitting suspended from 11.19 am to 2 pm.

Questions without notice

Gaming—sale of Labor clubs

MR SESELJA: My question is to the minister with responsibility for gaming and relates to the proposed sale of the Canberra Labor Club Group. Minister, the Chief Minister was quoted in the Canberra Times on 30 July as saying:

It would be bizarre in the extreme if the Labor Party, as the owner of an asset, says we no longer wish to sell this asset …

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