Page 2318 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 2 August 2017

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

Animals—victim compensation

MR DOSZPOT (Kurrajong) (10.20): I move:

That this Assembly:

(1) notes:

(a) that in May 2017, the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory handed down a decision in Hartigan v Commissioner for Social Housing in the ACT which reveals serious and alarming deficiencies in the laws of this Territory regarding the control of dangerous dogs and lack of effective remedy for people attacked, mauled and injured dogs;

(b) that evidence has been provided to the office of Mr Doszpot MLA that Domestic Animal Services (DAS) and ACT Housing had been aware of unmanaged dogs menacing people at a particular ACT Housing premises in Griffith for many years prior to 2010;

(c) in October 2010, a boy was attacked by a dog at those premises and sustained an injured eye, lost 13 teeth and has had 17 operations including skin grafts to his skull and continues to suffer;

(d) that action was taken by the boy through his lawyers against the ACT Government to compensate the boy for the injuries;

(e) although unsuccessful, the judgement notes the boy is “clearly entitled to compensation”, but that the person responsible was not capable of satisfying judgement, and the Government was not liable;

(f) as a result, the boy had applied, through his lawyers, for an ex gratia payment from the Government to be held in trust, to pay for his ongoing medical expenses;

(g) on 3 July 2017, the Chief Minister wrote a response regarding the ex gratia request in which he asserted the injuries that the boy sustained are not the Territory’s responsibility, and the Territory would not provide an ex gratia payment;

(h) ex gratia payments are commonly used to provide relief when other avenues are unavailable, and are defined as “a payment of money made or given as a concession, without legal compulsion” and are provided for in the Financial Management Act;

(i) the Chief Minister has asserted that he could not see any special circumstances to warrant his authorising any payment to the boy;

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