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Validation Bill 2021

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Tags: Legislation, Public Service

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Deputy Speaker, I indicate that the Greens will support this bill. It seems to be tidying up, and some overdue housekeeping. I respect the fact it is easy to miss these things. There seems to be rather of a lot of them that are similar. I wonder whether other agencies with ministers you have gone through, minister -

Ms Archer - I would be really careful because this is departmental territory and I would not like to reflect on people's work.

Dr WOODRUFF - No, I am not intending to do that.

Ms Archer - My answer will need to go there and I would feel uncomfortable.

Dr WOODRUFF - There are a lot of details around these things and I can understand it gets missed. It is clearly the case that your department has gone through things with a fine tooth comb and has identified these things and is correctly bringing them here. I wonder whether this is something which has been discussed at the Cabinet level for all ministers to have the same sort of fine tooth process so that we do not, inadvertently, in other departments that have committees and doing work where the appointment, the re appointment and that sort of thing. It is a fine point and these things do have to be perfect if they are challenged.

I recall a recent case of a Huon Valley sitting councillor who was unable to continue in his role because he had a residence outside of the council area. Although he owned land inside, he had not updated his details in the Huon Valley Council and with the Electoral Commission to make it clear that he had property in the area. On what he felt was a technicality, he lost his position as a councillor. There was some discussion at the time about whose role it was. He argued it was a minor administrative matter. I imagine I am making the point which you make in this bill, which is that these can have quite real-life consequences.

When it comes to matters of appointees, of tribunals and commissions who are making decisions that have real life and death consequences for people, it is appropriate to be very particular about the details of the appointment of people who are doing that. I do support the changes here.

One of the questions I have relates to the validation of justices of the peace. I wonder whether you could speak a little more about what appears to be some leniency that was provided in relation to issues regarding the awareness of a number of justices of the peace about the legislative reforms and the transitional arrangements, including the notification requirements. You say:

While the appointments of those JPs who failed to notify the secretary were terminated on commencement day, certain JPs appear to have been unaware of this change and continued to exercise their functions. This occurred in instances where despite the Department of Justice forwarding correspondence to all JPs on the database at the time to inform them of the legislative changes and transitional arrangements, as well as through communications via the three Justice of Peace associations. The JP either failed to return the documentation to the department that was forwarded to them to indicate their preference to remain a JP or where they did not receive said paperwork due to incorrect or not current contact information held by the department.

Do you mean that those JPs continued in their role because they stated that they were unaware of the fact that it had been terminated? I do not understand from this whether these people were subsequently reappointed?

Ms Archer - You do not understand why they were?

Dr WOODRUFF - No, whether they were subsequently -

Ms Archer - Whether they were. If they wish, yes.

Dr WOODRUFF - Whether they were subsequently reappointed after having had, I would think, some reasonable opportunities for someone in that position to take on board the fact that things had changed and they were required to make these paperwork changes.

I do not know the circumstances but I am thinking of the Huon Valley councillor. It seemed to many people that a small amount of leniency would have been fair given that the person had been a representative of the community for 12 years. He argued it was something he could have done in one day. It was a paperwork issue. He had willingness, he had cancer, he mounted many reasons why he had not got the paperwork done. Was leniency provided and were those people, those JPs, subsequently reappointed after the paperwork had been undertaken? If that is the case, I would expect that a person in that situation would be able to keep on top of those details. I do not want to dig too deeply into -

Ms Archer - No, it is all right. I can address it.

Dr WOODRUFF - I am not asking about personal circumstances. I am asking about the generalities. They were the only other comments I wanted to make. These are critical tribunals. They do really important work. I thank all the people who sit on those tribunals. They make some very difficult decisions and act with great expertise and in good faith on behalf of the people who appear before them. It is welcome that these details are fixed up and that we have all the paperwork sorted.