Page 1138 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 20 March 2013

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This highlights that this is legislation that works, that helps households save money on their electricity bills, that helps households use energy more efficiently and that helps our city achieve its greenhouse gas abatement. For all of these reasons, this legislation should be supported by all sides of this house, and it remains to the eternal shame of those opposite that they failed to do so.

Ms Gallagher: I ask that all further questions be placed on the notice paper.


Debate resumed.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (3.32): This is an excellent motion from Mr Seselja and I congratulate him on putting it on today. Having heard the attorney’s response, one can only assume that every fair-minded person in this place will now vote for the amendment. It seems to be that the backlog in our courts is everybody else’s fault and that although there is not a problem, the attorney has done all these things to fix the problem that he somehow says does not exist. He explains away the words of Justice Dyson Heydon by saying, “Well, this is about the parties involved.” But he then went on to explain all the things he had done to fix the backlog. You cannot have it both ways—you cannot say there is not a problem here and that it is just a timing problem.

What the minister seeks to do when he says that this proposal will be expensive is to transfer the expense to all those parties who are waiting for an outcome. If you are on remand and you are innocent, that is an enormous expense. If it is a compensation case and you are awaiting compensation to get on with your life, it comes at an enormous expense. But that is not an expense this minister thinks is worth considering.

What is the expense to those individuals affected by a court system that does not deliver? What is a reasonable time in which to get these judgements delivered? As Mr Seselja pointed out, we have criminal cases being listed for 2014—2014!—and the old saying, justice delayed is justice denied, is very apt in this place.

What is a reasonable time in which to deliver judgements? It is a pretty serious situation for the ACT Bar Association to make a complaint to the attorney regarding 20 cases that have had judgements waiting more than 18 months, and one for nearly four years. Again, justice delayed.

What is wrong with the system and how do we fix it? Quite clearly, what is wrong with the system is that we do not have enough judges. As Mr Seselja pointed out, when you look at the national averages, we are way below the average in this country, and it is time that we at least had judges to match the need in the territory. According to the report, as Mr Seselja said, we have 3.4 judges per 100,000 people. The Northern Territory has 11. I am not suggesting we should go there, but Tasmania, which is a nearer-size jurisdiction, has 4.1. The national average is 4.8. You have to ask yourself the question: why do we have such a low average per 100,000 persons in the ACT and why do we have such long waits for decisions? The case is clear: we deserve an extra judge in the ACT.

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