Page 928 - Week 03 - Thursday, 22 March 2018

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MR RAMSAY (Ginninderra—Attorney-General, Minister for Regulatory Services, Minister for the Arts and Community Events and Minister for Veterans and Seniors) (11.29): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I am pleased to present the Justice and Community Safety Legislation Amendment Bill 2018, or the JACS bill. This JACS bill continues the tradition of making technical and tangible amendments to improve the operation of the territory’s legislation. The amendments in this bill make adjustments to ACT legislation to ensure that there are minimal gaps in the application of interstate regulatory schemes in the ACT. The bill also makes improvements to our justice system by correcting inconsistencies, reducing the burden for victims of family violence and acknowledging the increasing demand for restorative justice services in the ACT. These amendments will help ensure that our justice system is accessible, transparent and timely for everyone.

One key amendment in this bill is the amendment to the Family Violence Act 2016. The intention of that new Family Violence Act was that the court could make a declaration under division 9.6 that a family violence order is a recognised family violence order. Under the new act it is only necessary for a person to make an application for recognition once. The intention of this legislation was that, once a declaration was made in a jurisdiction, the family violence order would be treated as a recognised family violence order in all participating jurisdictions.

However, while the intention of section 199 of the Family Violence Act was that orders made under the old act were treated as orders under the new act, it was also the intention not to automatically recognise all old orders under the national recognition provisions. As drafted, the provision prevents these older orders from being registered. This amendment will correct that inconsistency and clarify that division 9.6 is intended to apply to orders made under the new act as well as the old act.

This amendment ensures that, whether a victim has an order under the old scheme or under the new scheme, they will be able to apply to have that order declared as a recognised family violence order without having to travel interstate. This will better protect victims of family violence and reduce the burden of applying for declarations, making family violence orders more accessible across Australia regardless of jurisdictional boundaries. Addressing the issue of family violence remains a high priority for the government. These amendments contribute to that response.

The amendment to the Crimes Act 1900 corrects a drafting inconsistency. The Crimes Act provides for special hearings for those accused who are unfit to plead. The purpose of a special hearing is to make sure that a person is not detained for a long period of time simply because they are unfit to plead. Section 316 currently allows the Supreme Court to direct the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal to appoint a guardian for an accused with a decision-making disability where that accused is unable to decide for themselves whether they want to have a special hearing. That guardian, or a guardian the accused may already have, can then notify the court that they think it is in the best interests of the accused to have a special hearing.

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