Page 3632 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 23 August 2011

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

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Detail stage

Bill, by leave, taken as a whole.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (10.23), by leave: I move amendments Nos 1 to 4 circulated in my name together [see schedule 1 at page 3701].

These amendments create an extended mechanism of reporting. Currently, section 15 of the legislation requires reporting on the model litigant guidelines only, which is one of a possible number of legal services directions. This amendment extends the reporting requirements to any other legal services direction that the attorney may make.

The reporting requirements in this piece of legislation are essentially those which were established by the Assembly a couple of years ago at my initiative, when I made amendments to the Law Officer Act to raise the profile of the model litigant guidelines. The provisions that the Assembly agreed to at that time remain intact for the model litigant guidelines and it seems appropriate, if the government is going to issue other legal services directions of this type, that there should be similar reporting requirements. The amendments together make that happen. I think that it is just another element of accountability that goes to making the approach to government more open to people and more easily able to be observed by our electors, as to how we do things.

There are many complaints to me from constituents about whether or not government lawyers comply with the model litigant guidelines. It is something that arises on a fairly regular basis. The model litigant guidelines do not mean that the ACT government is a pushover as a litigant. All it does is that it means we state up front how we will behave. It does not mean that the ACT government is going to pull any punches in legal matters before the court.

Sometimes constituents do not like it when they take the government to court and the government acts like a real opponent. I often get complaints about breaches of the model litigant guidelines, but at this stage we have not actually had any confirmed breaches of the model litigant guidelines. If we do have them, they should be reported and if there are breaches of any other legal services directions, they too should be reported.

This is a simple amendment which will increase the accountability of governments of any stripe. Therefore they should be supported by parties of all stripes in this place.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development, Minister for Territory and Municipal Services and Minister

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