Page 4124 - Week 13 - Thursday, 31 October 2013
incumbent on our courts to have a consistent approach in dealing with breaches of work health and safety law and consider the likely deterrent effect of the fine or penalty imposed. I agree with those sentiments, as I know the court does also. The appointment of an industrial court magistrate will help to achieve this goal.
MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Gentleman.
MR GENTLEMAN: Minister, what are the views of the community on the formation of the new court, and what has the government done to take these views into account?
MR CORBELL: I thank Mr Gentleman for the supplementary. The government engaged widely with stakeholders in the development of the proposal, including the magistrates themselves, the Law Society, the Bar Association, WorkSafe ACT, the HIA, the MBA, Unions ACT, the CFMEU, the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union and the ACT Work Safety Council. A range of views were raised.
One of the most obvious was the issue around the jurisdiction of the new court and whether or not high value common law claims above the $250,000 threshold should be included. Initially these were included in the bill, but, following representations from stakeholders, it was agreed by the government to reform that and, of course, as members know, the bill has, as passed, adopted the threshold of $250,000.
MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Dr Bourke.
DR BOURKE: Minister, how will the new sentencing database, as well as the interstate equivalents, assist this new court?
MR CORBELL: I thank Dr Bourke for the supplementary. The government is progressing the new sentencing database initiative, and I look forward to that starting to be rolled out in the coming months. The sentencing database will allow magistrates, judges and also members of ACAT to have easy access to contemporary sentencing information in related matters as they consider their sentencing or decision-making responsibilities.
The sentencing database will therefore assist the industrial magistrates court and the industrial magistrate through the process of considering previous cases and previous precedent around sentencing. This will be a more streamlined, effective and timely process than that which has previously been the case.
It will also mean that all of our judicial officers and tribunal members will have access not only to sentencing data here in the ACT but also to relevant sentencing data in New South Wales, which we are drawing on for the sentencing database. This will be important, particularly in the context of harmonised penalties and harmonised laws such as those around work health and safety.
Ms Gallagher: Madam Speaker, I ask that all further questions be placed on the notice paper.