Page 2193 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 4 June 2013

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Leave of absence

Motion (by Ms Gallagher) agreed to:

That leave of absence be granted to Mr Corbell for this sitting day due to ill health.

Official Visitor Amendment Bill 2013

Debate resumed from 16 May 2013, on motion by Mr Corbell:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR SESELJA (Brindabella) (10.11): The Canberra Liberals will be supporting the Official Visitor Amendment Bill 2013. It fixes a number of flaws in the act which the Seventh Assembly passed, noting that the fix-ups would be required. It noted they would be required because, while the concept was worthwhile, this was a bill that was not well thought out. It was not fully thought through, it contained impracticalities and it prescribed administrative processes that should more properly be dealt with through exactly those administrative processes.

This bill does a number of things. Firstly, it removes terminology around the concept of “inspect” and replaces it with “visit”, because “inspecting visitable places” is not what an official visitor does. Official visitors do as their title suggests; they visit visitable places. Naturally, under the act official visitors retain the power to inspect certain records.

Secondly, this bill removes provisions detailing the frequency of visits. It allows this administrative or operational process to be dealt with under operational guidelines, as already provided for in the act, via disallowable instrument. Next, the bill narrows the definition of “visitable place”. In essence, “visitable places” are places funded by government, or, in the case of visitable places under the Disability Services Act, wholly or partly government funded. So, for example, private family homes will not be covered.

However, complaints mechanisms remain in place. As part of the encouragement of collaboration between official visitors, this bill also enables official visitors to assist each other, rather than them having to seek out the Public Advocate, as is currently the case.

The most substantive, important and new policy area this bill implements is to establish an official visitor board. This board will facilitate collaboration between, and professional and administrative support for, official visitors. It will not, however, govern the functions for official visitors, thereby preserving their autonomy.

This initiative addresses the concerns official visitors had in relation to the original bill as drafted by the Greens, which contemplated that the official visitors would be accommodated in the office of the Public Advocate. The board will be comprised of

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