Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 March 2018) . . Page.. 754 ..
MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong) (4.29): The Courts and Other Justice Legislation Amendment Bill makes a range of amendments to legislation relating to the operations of the ACT courts and tribunals. The bill seeks to facilitate access to justice by introducing efficiency measures in relation to the structures and processes of the ACT courts and tribunals, including the operation of the ACT justice and coronial system. The bill is responding to issues identified by the courts, many of which are administrative and procedural in nature, as part of the government’s regular review of justice legislation to ensure that the ACT has an accessible, fair and efficient justice system. I do not plan to discuss all of the changes, as they are largely positive and predominantly procedural, but I would like to make a couple of brief comments on a few particular matters.
The bill makes a series of amendments to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2008, most of which are aimed at providing clarity in relation to certain procedures of the tribunal. This includes clarifying the process for the enforcement of orders made by ACAT in the Magistrates Court. This is in response to a judgement by Justice Refshauge in the case of Kaney v Rushton last year where His Honour noted that it would be preferable to put beyond doubt that the enforcement of ACAT orders is to happen through the established procedures under the Magistrates Court Act 1930. The bill introduces a new section to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act which provides that a money order or non-money order made by the tribunal may be enforced by filing a copy of the order, sealed by the tribunal, along with an affidavit in support stating that the order has not been complied with in the appropriate court, usually the Magistrates Court.
The bill will also amend the Utilities Act to increase from $10,000 to $25,000 the maximum monetary amount of compensation which can be awarded at ACAT for energy and water complaints. The compensation limit has not been increased since it was set in 2001, and the new maximum amount will make sure that the tribunal is better able to address unfair conduct or poor service by energy and water providers in the territory.
Amendments to the Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act clarify the process for ACT courts to take evidence using audiovisual links or audio links. These amendments clarify that evidence by audiovisual links or audio links can be received from overseas. When considering whether evidence can be provided from a place outside the territory, including from overseas, the courts will weigh up the benefit of reduced costs and delay in the conduct of the proceedings with any impact on procedural fairness to the parties to determine whether it is in the interests of justice. Given the changing expectations in the world of being able to use this sort of technology, and the improvements in the technology, I think it is very appropriate to make this sort of amendment. I think we will see this sort of evidence-taking happening more frequently in the future, and the courts will be able to be more comfortable that it is an appropriate mechanism.
The bill makes amendments to the Juries Act to better support jurors in their important role. The Greens are particularly pleased to see that the bill will support the inclusion of people with a disability as jurors, ensuring that juries better reflect the