Published: 27 August 2015

Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, this is an example of a bill we receive about once a year.  Tidying up a few matters and getting rid of some out-of-date terminology. There are questions I have for the Leader, which I post broadly.  We can either deal with them in her reply or in the specific areas throughout the bill.

Generally, I do not have a problem with any of the provisions in the bill.  Just a few questions.  With regard to the amendments to the Acts Interpretation Act, which allows service occurring electronically, I wonder what the presumption will be for proof of receipt of that.  Will they have read receipts attached and that sort of thing to confirm they have been received?  They can always say, 'I did not receive the email.  It was probably in the junk mail'.  How do we know that those have been received and will there be a process for that?

Mr Valentine - The person who is receiving it agrees to send a receipt. 

Ms FORREST - They have to agree to receiving it electronically, to say that they received it.  There are times when emails or other electronic communications probably do go astray.  Is there an expectation or requirement for the recipient of the message to acknowledge it in some way, through a read receipt or whatever.  At least there can be no argument about that.  Without that it could always be open to question.  I am seeking some clarification about how that would work.

The amendments to the Bail Act are appropriate and important.  I was pleased to see the provision for programs to be included, including gambling addiction, which is a new thing.  That will be a positive.  It will enable magistrates to allow people to be released on bail on condition that they undertake a program such as that, if that is the predominant reason they have become before the court in the first place.  That is a positive step.  I understand the Chief Magistrate was asking for that change, to clarify that those types of things could be included and to strengthen the statutory basis for making these bail conditions.  I think that is quite appropriate. 

The amendments to the Health Complaints Act, to extend the time beyond 45 days for a further 45 days where there is a reasonable explanation for the inability to proceed at that time - it is important there is some sort of process there.  We do not want the complaint to lapse.  Most people make genuine complaints about health services.  I have a lot of these people come through my office requesting assistance to put in complaints.  The majority of them are legitimate, and they have had some real challenges with that. 

The question is how will the assessment be made as to what is unavoidable, so that we do not just allow a health service provider to delay and be slow in responding as opposed to something outside their control.  Who makes that assessment?  Is that the commissioner and on what basis do they make that assessment? 

With regard to the amendment to Powers of Attorney Act inserting a time limit, I am not sure why a time limit is needed and that was mentioned in the Leader's second reading speech.  I would like some more detail about why a time limit was needed in that. 

Another section with regard to the Public Interest Disclosures Act I thought was interesting in that it is currently being more honoured in the breach rather than the observance.  The Ombudsman has requested that this subsection be limited to only large public bodies such as agencies, councils, GBEs and stateowned companies.  That is what this bill is doing.  My question is, have those larger public bodies - the agencies, councils, GBEs and state-owned companies - been the ones honouring the act in its breach rather than its observance, or have they been compliant? 

The briefing on the Right to Information Act, which includes the Parole Board, was again helpful and I thank the Leader for organising it.  The Parole Board is one of those bodies to which it does not apply.  I would like a bit more detail on that than was provided in the briefing as to why they were seen as being left off the list.  It seems that if lawyers who want to represent their clients in this area have trouble getting access to some information or do not know whether they can have access to information, we were told in the briefing that these individuals have every right to access their own personal information.  That should be adequate, but I just want to clarify that so we do not have issues for lawyers seeking to represent someone involved in some form of litigation or personal dispute and all they get is redacted documents and they cannot access the information they may need. 

These are the only areas I wanted to address specifically.  If the Leader wants to do it in the Committee stage I am happy with that, but if she can provide the answers in her reply that would be helpful, too. 



[3.57 p.m.]

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