Page 563 - Week 02 - Thursday, 19 February 2015

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not believe in the existence of a god to take an oath. This is a practical amendment that will not alter the substance of taking an oath under the Oaths and Affirmations Act but aligns with modern and accepted principles.

The bill proposes a number of amendments to the Coroners Act 1997. The first amendment will require a coroner to hold an inquiry into a fire only when requested by the Attorney-General. This will significantly reduce the workload of coroners but still allow for inquiries to be held in relation to serious fires.

The coroner will continue to be able to investigate a fire under the Coroners Act if the coroner considers it appropriate to do so, or on request. The proposed amendment will not impact on the coroner’s powers to investigate deaths and disasters.

Further amendments will allow the coroner to establish a coronial investigation scene. They set out the powers that a police officer has within that scene to collect and preserve evidence. Coronial investigation scenes can be established when no obvious crime has been committed and it is inappropriate to use investigation powers under the Crimes Act.

A police officer may request an order creating a coronial investigation scene in writing or by telephone and is also able to establish the scene in any way that is reasonably appropriate in the circumstances. A scene can also be established in a public place to ensure the integrity of evidence, and to ensure that the deceased is treated with respect and integrity.

Further proposed changes to the Coroners Act are consistent with legislative recommendations flowing from the final report of the review of ACT coronial and post-mortem process and practice, prepared by Dr Charles Naylor, Chief Forensic Pathologist from Queensland, in August 2013.

The amendments include clarifying the definitions of inquests and hearings, and clarifying the types of death that a coroner is required to investigate. The amendments to the coroner’s jurisdiction in relation to deaths will update the language and remove some ambiguities in the current provisions. They will not alter the scope of a coroner’s jurisdiction or any of their powers or functions.

The bill also repeals the Mediation Act, bringing the ACT into line with the national accreditation processes for mediation and reducing red tape for mediators.

Overall, these changes will improve the operation of laws in the ACT to promote access to justice for members of our community and its effective administration. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Hanson) adjourned to the next sitting.

Domestic Animals (Breeding) Legislation Amendment Bill 2015

Mr Rattenbury, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

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