Page 4069 - Week 11 - Thursday, 21 September 2017
This bill also makes a number of amendments that are aimed at streamlining and improving the services provided by our courts. This includes the amendments to the Coroners Act 1997, the Court Procedures Act 2004 and the Road Transport (General) Act 1999.
The amendments to the Coroners Act 1997 include an amendment to remove the mandatory requirement for a hearing when a person dies under, or as a result of the administration of, an anaesthetic. This amendment recognises that the original policy intention underlying the need for mandatory hearings in these deaths has been overtaken by the significant clinical improvements in anaesthesia and in their increasingly common use. This amendment also brings our legislation into line with legislation in other jurisdictions such as New South Wales, which introduced legislation with this effect in 1960.
The Coroners Act requires that certain deaths be reported to the coroner. For all reported deaths, a coroner conducts an inquest. The legislation presumes that a coroner will hold a hearing as part of the inquest. However, the coroner can decide not to hold a hearing if satisfied that the manner and cause of death are clear and that a hearing is unnecessary. It is important to note that this amendment removes only the need to hold a hearing, not any of the rest of the coronial process. Any death that appears to be completely or partly attributable to an operation or a procedure under a medical procedure must be reported to a coroner, whether related to anaesthetic or not. This amendment means that it is now within the coroner’s discretion to decide if a hearing that involves witnesses and further investigation is necessary in these circumstances.
The amendments to the Court Procedures Act 2004 include amendments to streamline the principal registrar’s powers in relation to delegation and staff recruitment. They also include a new subject matter for court rules, being the security of court premises, including the use of electronic devices in court. In this age of increasing use of smart phones, this amendment will allow for new court rules aimed at maintaining the integrity of court proceedings and protecting the privacy of people involved.
The amendments to the Road Transport (General) Act 1999 are aimed at creating efficiencies for the community as well as the courts. They reduce court interaction for people paying off traffic infringement notices via infringement notice management plans and introduce a more flexible system for making known user declarations for traffic offences. The government will be able to accept a declaration from someone who is accepting responsibility for a fine. Currently, the registered owner of a vehicle must first write to the government. This means that there will be less red tape when sorting out who is responsible to pay a traffic fine and therefore fewer delays.
Finally, this bill contains amendments that, in addition to being the product of consultation, enhance the government’s process for consultation. The Liquor Advisory Board will be expanded to include a member of the late-night economy sector. This expansion will ensure that decisions about liquor regulation are better informed by the experience of those working in the industry. The Liquor Advisory Board provides advice to government about the effectiveness of our liquor legislation.