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Land Titles Amendment Bill 2018

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Tags: Legislation

Ms O'CONNOR (Denison - Leader of the Greens) - Madam Speaker, we will be supporting the bill primarily because, as is stated in the fact sheet in the second reading, this is a change to the Land Titles Act that has been requested by the chief justice.  I listened with great interest to Ms Haddad's contribution detailing some of the enormous pressures that the courts are under as a result of increasing case load.  There have been cuts to the funding for courts in Tasmania over the past few years.  As I understand it, there was a $600 000 cut -

Ms Archer - Funding to courts has been cut.

Ms O'CONNOR - It was a $600 000 cut, was that to legal aid?

Ms Archer - That was Commonwealth - certainly not us.  We have given legal aid and DPP more money. 

Ms O'CONNOR - The budget for the Magistrate's Court and the Supreme Court in Tasmania is unchanged?

Ms Archer - Pretty sure it has not gone down.

Ms O'CONNOR - This very brief second reading speech states that in the opinion of the former and current chief justices of the Supreme Court, issuing a summons as part of the section 146 process, which is where there has been a default on a mortgage, for example, is unnecessary and in practice is disregarded by the person on whom it is served.  I note that Tasmania until this point has been the only jurisdiction to have the issuing of the summons in place as part of standard court practice in these processes. 

I encourage my colleagues who are in the Chamber at the moment, particularly the Attorney-General and the Minister for Justice - the Premier regrettably is not in here - to look at a number of other areas where Tasmania is not in line with other Australian states and territories, primarily in the area of electoral law and donations disclosure.  We are a stand-out among states and territories for having the weakest donations disclosure laws in the country.  We have no state-based donations disclosure laws and we come under the Commonwealth Act, which is a manifestly inadequate and un-democratic situation.

The other area that comes to mind is in relation to the offence of misconduct in public office.  Every other Australian state and territory either has this in their criminal code or law.  It is a very important tool for integrity agencies to be able to use in ensuring the highest standards of ethical conduct, probity and good governance in Tasmania.  I remind the House that the Integrity Commission has on a number of occasions - three that I can recall - called for Tasmania's Parliament to enact an offence of misconduct in public office.  Tasmania's Parliament will be given the opportunity once again to have that debate, as we did in the last term and it is a matter of public record that both the Liberal and Labor parties voted against bringing Tasmania into line with other jurisdictions and having on our statutes the criminal offence of misconduct in public office.

We have been accustomed to second reaching speeches under the Liberals in Government that are not simply a detailing of the provisions in the bill and the objectives of the legislation, but they use highly political language.  I point out to the minister that 'red tape' is not a legal term, nor is 'green tape', although we have not seen it in this legislation.  To use language like 'red tape' in a second reading speech is lazy.  It is also puerile and poor use of the English language.  We could say that it reduces the administrative burden on courts and brings us into line with other jurisdictions.  The term 'red tape' is used here at least twice.  I encourage all ministers, and the agencies that prepare second reading speeches for them, not to allow these second reading speeches to become propaganda by using terms which are not legal terms and are not anything other than political terms.

With those few comments, the Greens will be supporting this legislation on the basis that it is the opinion of the former and current chief justice that this is a necessary change