Page 2330 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 2 August 2017

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Initially I tried to keep the emotion out of this but there is no other way of talking about the issues that we are confronted with here. We are not talking about politics, we are talking about moral rights and the moral obligation of this government and of this Assembly.

I have seen Mr Barr’s amendment which says that there are things afoot to put in place criteria for this. All of this has obviously happened because of this case. Where future issues occur, people may get a better hearing. But these are the people who have been affected the most at this stage. This is the worst dog attack on a human that I am aware of in Canberra—ever. Yet you are turning your backs on it.

We are not turning our backs on it. Mr Barr has amended everything out of my original motion. I said, in the first paragraph of my speech, that in May 2017 the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory handed down a decision in Hartigan v Commissioner for Social Housing which revealed serious and alarming deficiencies in the laws of the territory regarding the control of dangerous dogs and lack of effective remedy for people attacked and mauled by dogs.

In Mr Barr’s amendment that has been totally deleted. That was a fact, Mr Barr. You are deleting what are factual elements in the motion that we placed before this Assembly. You want to rewrite the history; you want to put all that behind you. You have not even got the grace to turn around and look at the family. Shame on you, Mr Barr!

Michael Moore in his article in the CityNews a week ago wrote a very incisive article about what we are talking about here today. Mr Moore stated, and I will read a couple of paragraphs:

Concerns about precedents are understandable. Government cannot open the floodgates for other claims that largely blame the government for actions of tenants. However, Justice Penfold’s judgement goes further than government liability. It implies that it is appropriate for Jack Hartigan to have compensation even though the tenant will not be able to pay. Her Honour does point to a process for the future … She suggests “an insurance scheme that could provide compensation to people like the plaintiff who suffer from the actions of dangerous dogs which have been lawfully kept in the ACT”.

The trouble for Jack Hartigan is that this is for the future. However, it does provide a way forward for the Chief Minister without the concern of setting a precedent. The appropriate action for the Chief Minister is to make an act of grace payment after announcing the government’s intention to implement a scheme of the type suggested in the judgement.

That is a positive way forward. Instead, what we get from Mr Barr is an amendment which basically totally whitewashes what we have been discussing here today. There is no judgement. He refers to a young boy being attacked but he refuses to recognise the very judgement that he feels obliges him not to make an ex gratia payment. It is a shameful situation.

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