Page 3633 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 23 August 2011

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for Police and Emergency Services) (10.27): As I indicated in my closing speech, the government broadly supports the amendments proposed by Mrs Dunne, although we would argue that they are in many respects strictly unnecessary. We will, however, be opposing her amendment No 4. So at a later point in the debate I will ask that the question be divided to deal with that issue separately.

Let me refer to each of Mrs Dunne’s amendments in turn. In relation to her amendment No 1, while the amendment proposed by Mrs Dunne is, strictly speaking, unnecessary, the government will support it. This amendment, taken collectively with amendments 2 and 3, will strengthen the government’s commitment to conducting itself in a manner which is transparent, open and accountable. The amendment will ensure that the existing practice of territory agencies providing a reporting on the conduct of litigation each financial year is extended to all aspects of legal work conducted by agencies, where the nature of this work is captured in a legal services direction.

The types of matters which government anticipates could be the subject of a legal services direction include arrangements for legal services—for example, the requirement for agencies to use the Government Solicitor—the circumstances for procuring legal services other than from the Government Solicitor, the use of lawyers in-house by agencies and the requirements for legal advice on major government contracts. Other matters could include the engagement of external counsel, including selection criteria and fees, and the provision of legal assistance to employees, territory ministers and members of the Legislative Assembly.

Unlike the model litigant guidelines, information regarding compliance with and breaches of these types of legal services directions are not matters that the public would normally be interested in. However, they are matters that would be monitored by government as part of good governance and I see no reason why this information should not be released to the public.

In relation to amendment No 2, this is consequential on and is part of the package in relation to amendment No 1, and I will not speak further on that; equally in relation to amendment No 3. Turning though to Mrs Dunne’s amendment No 4, the government does not support this amendment. I suspect this amendment has been proposed as a consequence of proposed amendments 1 to 3. These amendments would remove references to model litigant guidelines from clause 15 of the bill.

However, “model litigant guidelines” is a phrase used in other clauses in the bill and is therefore necessary. In particular, it is used in clause 11, which establishes the power of the Attorney-General to issue a legal services direction setting out the model litigant guidelines, and in clause 36, which ensures the existing model litigant guidelines are carried forward under the proposed new act. The model litigant guidelines are distinguished in the bill from other types of legal services directions to ensure that it is mandatory for the Attorney-General to issue them. All other legal services directions are discretionary. The mandatory requirement to issue model litigant guidelines is from existing legislation.

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