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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 25 February 2010) . . Page.. 711 ..

The committee is concerned about the slow responses to questions taken on notice and given on notice during the inquiry, and the slow delivery …

At the end, there is a lengthy table outlining the number of questions taken on notice and the lengthy delays. It does point out the lengthy delays. Sometimes the lengthy delays were between when the minister signed off an answer to a question and when the committee received an answer to a question. The amount of time it sometimes seems to take for that last process, for it to be walked down a couple of flights of stairs, beggars belief.

The delay did impede the committee’s deliberations. The committee probably would have concluded its deliberations much earlier if we had had the information. We started the hearings as early as we possibly could so that we could get these out of the way, because we have two other important inquiries and we wanted to give attention to those. We make a recommendation that in future relevant ministers advise the committee if and why they are unable to provide responses to questions on notice and supplementary questions within the time frame advised by the committee. Of course, the time frames in committee processes are usually much shorter than the Assembly time frames, but the time frames set by the committee in this case were much more generous than is the case with the estimates process. The committee was very disappointed in that.

As I said, there are a range of recommendations about improved reporting. In relation to improved reporting, the committee made special comment in relation to courts and tribunals, about the backlog indicators to assess the timeliness of the court system. In response to questions on notice, the committee was advised that, at 30 June 2009, there were 2,168 cases before the Supreme Court which were unresolved. During 2007-08, 1,600 cases were lodged, and during 2008-09 there were 174 judgements handed down, including from the appeals court. And as at December 2009, there were 57 judgements outstanding in the Supreme Court. During a similar period, 74 judgements had been reserved by the master, judges and the Court of Appeal. The longest standing of those judgements went back to 13 March 2008.

These are matters of considerable concern to the community at large and to the committee. At recommendation 9, the committee has recommended that the Attorney-General report to the ACT Legislative Assembly every six months between now and 2012 on measures that are being undertaken and progress that has been made to reduce the backlog in the ACT’s courts.

There is also a recommendation in relation to unpaid fines. This is an ongoing issue. It is a difficult issue, and I know that all jurisdictions are looking at this in various ways. We have made a recommendation that the minister keep the Assembly apprised of progress during these sittings on work done in relation to the recovery of unrecovered fines—unpaid court fines.

In passing, we noted some issues in relation to legal matters that the department is dealing with. There was a standout item which in many ways intrigued the committee: there are court processes afoot that have resulted in a huge boost to the revenue of the

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