Page 4740 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 31 October 2017
The amendments to the Coroners Act 1997 remove the mandatory requirement for a hearing in situations where a person dies as a result of or under an anaesthetic. This reflects a significant clinical improvement in anaesthesia and the increasingly common use of anaesthetics, which has made the original policy intent for mandatory hearings no longer necessary. This also brings the ACT into line with other jurisdictions in Australia, many of which abolished the need for mandatory hearings in anaesthetic-related deaths many years—and in some cases decades—ago. Importantly, the amendment only removes the requirement for a hearing and not the rest of the coronial inquest. This recognises that other parts of the coronial inquest can still produce very useful findings without needing a hearing that involves witnesses and potential further investigation. It will be at the discretion of the coroner as to whether a hearing will be held as part of any particular coronial inquest with respect to anaesthetic-related deaths.
The changes to the Liquor Act will broaden the membership of the Liquor Advisory Board. The Greens consider that these amendments reflect the changing nature of our clubs and hotels industry. In this new environment it makes sense that the hotel and club representatives on the board can come from across their industries rather than restricting the membership to any one specific organisation. There is also an amendment to expand the membership of the board to include a representative of the late-night economy. These amendments will hopefully encourage different people with a diverse range of skills to participate in advising government on policy related to our liquor laws and night-time economy. I do note Mr Hanson’s commentary on this. I do not buy into that. As a party that continues to meet with all of these organisations, we certainly have no particular agenda in that space, and I do not think it is the government’s agenda.
The minor changes to the Co-operatives National Law Act and regulations are administrative and are designed to improve its efficiency in the prescription of fees and allowances.
The bill also makes minor administrative changes to the road transport legislation. The road transport authority will be able to accept “known user declarations” from the person who was responsible for a vehicle at the time of an offence. Previously, the declaration had to come from the owner of the vehicle, stating they were not in control of the vehicle at the time of the offence and nominating the person responsible.
Finally I would like to talk about the amendments to the Freedom of Information Act 2016. I was pleased to introduce this piece of legislation last year. As Mr Hanson rightly noted, it did take much longer than I had hoped, but I guess that is the process of negotiation. I was pleased to work with colleagues across the chamber to get that bill passed during the last Assembly. It is set to commence operation next year. The Greens are committed to openness and transparency in government. This legislation has taken the ACT from being one of the least open FOI jurisdictions in the country to being one of the best. Based on the Queensland FOI laws, the new FOI laws will not only assist the public to assess whether the government has done its job well but also facilitate the release of important government information so that the community can actively participate in the formulation of policy ideas.