Page 2104 - Week 07 - Thursday, 16 May 2013

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Question resolved in the affirmative.

Justice and Community Safety—Standing Committee

Report 1

MR DOSZPOT (Molonglo) (10.11): Pursuant to the order of the Assembly of 14 February 2013, as amended on 9 May 2013, I present the following report:

Justice and Community Safety—Standing Committee—Report 1—Report on Annual and Financial Reports 2011-2012, dated 6 May 2013, together with a copy of the extracts of the relevant minutes of proceedings.

I move:

That the report be noted.

I rise today on behalf of the Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety, to table its inquiry report on annual reports for 2011-12.

In this place, annual reports and estimates inquiries, together, support the accountability of the executive government to the Assembly in important ways. Each instance of this process gives the committee the opportunity to see how things are travelling with administration, policy and implementation by the executive. The matters that come up in hearings for these inquiries are often long-term issues. And it is in connection with these issues that the committee system, with its emphasis on scrutiny, frequently delivers significant value to the overall work of the Assembly.

In this case, there were three areas the committee considered particularly important and made recommendations on.

In recommendation 1, the committee recommends that the ACT government consider establishing a single secretariat or administrative unit for independent agencies with responsibilities for rights in the ACT. During the inquiry process, the committee noted the close relationship between rights agencies, which are created as independent agencies by statute, and executive agencies. An example is the relationship between the Human Rights Commission and the Justice and Community Safety Directorate. In the committee’s view, this is a departure from both the wording and intent of legislation creating the commission. A greater degree of structural separation would be desirable. Factoring in questions of economies of scale and the smaller size of the ACT jurisdiction, the committee has asked government to consider making a structural separation by putting rights-oriented agencies, including the Public Advocate, in a separate independent agency.

In recommendation 2 the committee recommends that the government endorse the Director of Public Prosecutions’ recommendations such that there be greater pre-trial exchange of materials and witness lists between prosecution and defence counsel in court cases. In the committee’s view, this would lead to better use of the court’s time.

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