Page 2353 - Week 06 - Thursday, 23 June 2011

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who have passed away will gain significant benefits from the changes proposed today. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mrs Dunne) adjourned to the next sitting.

Law Officers Bill 2011

Mr Corbell, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development, Minister for Territory and Municipal Services and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (10.41): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

The Law Officers Bill that I am presenting today will enhance the ACT’s position in the national arena by establishing the role of solicitor-general, a role that exists in every Australian jurisdiction except the ACT.

The bill creates a new Law Officers Act that establishes the separate offices of the Attorney-General, the solicitor-general and the Government Solicitor.

The office of the solicitor-general is the only new position created by this bill. The offices of the Attorney-General and the Government Solicitor have already been established under other separate legislation. The bill consolidates this existing legislation, and provides one act, the new Law Officers Act, to cover the three main legal offices in the territory.

In most Australian jurisdictions an independent statutory solicitor-general is appointed to provide written and oral advice on matters of significance to the jurisdiction’s government and appear as counsel in cases of constitutional significance, international cases and other cases of special government interest.

Since self-government, the role of principal adviser to the ACT government in relation to legal matters has rested with the Chief Solicitor. Until recent times, the nature and scope of that advice was within relatively confined parameters and might generally be regarded as part of the ordinary functions of a traditional crown solicitor’s office.

However, the increasing complexity of the constitutional framework in which the ACT operates and the introduction of the Human Rights Act 2004 has seen the present Chief Solicitor engage at the highest national levels in relation to legal advice provided to all governments. The Chief Solicitor has also, on behalf of the Attorney-General, appeared as counsel in interventions in the Supreme Court on a regular basis and in the High Court on occasions.

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