Page 1665 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 3 May 2011

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It is a reasonable statement that the public accounts committee has made. I hope the government has taken it on board and understands what is required for the audit office. I look forward to all members of this place supporting the Auditor-General because, at the end of the day, in a unicameral house, the audit office takes on even more importance. Certainly, if you want to add efficiencies, if you want to make savings, if you want to take the pressure off the cost of living of Canberra families, one of the ways to do it, one of the most effective ways to do it, is to listen to your Auditor-General.

Courts Legislation Amendment Bill 2010

Detail stage

Clause 1 agreed to.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra): Clause 1 has been agreed by members of the opposition. I want to take this opportunity to table the supplementary explanatory statement that goes with the amendments—both the supplementary explanatory statement and the amendments that have been circulated. This is just a formal matter of tabling. I seek leave to table the supplementary explanatory statement.

Leave granted.

MRS DUNNE: Thank you, members. I table the following paper:

Supplementary explanatory statement to the amendments.

Clause 2.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (10.23): I move amendment No 1 circulated in my name in relation to the commencement of this legislation [see schedule 1 at page 1729].

Today I am proposing a series of amendments to the government’s bill. The primary purpose of the government’s bill is to reduce the workload on the Supreme Court and to give it a chance to catch up on its backlog. In seeking to achieve this outcome the government’s bill redefines an indictable offence to be one that carries a penalty of more than five years. Currently it is two and previously it was one year. This would result in a serious derogation of the rights of defendants to have their serious matters heard before a jury. It means that all matters that carry a penalty of five years or less would be dealt with as a summary offence in the Magistrates Court and that defendants would have no right to elect for a jury trial.

But it was not as simple as that, Madam Assistant Speaker, for the government wanted to ensure that some offences remained caught by the definition of indictable offence. In the government’s amendments there are a range of consequential provisions that would seek to redefine what an indictable offence is across a range of offences.

The scrutiny report raised serious concerns about the government’s approach, as did the legal profession. The ACT Law Society, the ACT Bar Association and Civil

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