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Thursday, 31 May 1984
Page: 2199

Senator COATES —I give notice that it is my intention, when notices of motion are given on the next day of sitting, to withdraw Business of the Senate, Notices of Motion Nos. 1 and 3, standing in my name. I seek leave to make a brief explanation.

Leave granted.

Senator COATES —The Regulations and Ordinances Committee was concerned about a number of reversals of onus of proof and conclusive certificate provisions in the Ordinances concerned. The Committee has been discussing these provisions with the Minister for Territories and Local Government (Mr Uren) over the past three months. As a result, the Committee has satisfied itself that the reversal of onus provisions are intrinsic to policy, which of course, is outside the scope of the Committee's normal principles or terms of reference. The Committee has also received an undertaking from the Minister to amend the other series of provisions which relate to decisions made by a single medical referee. The Minister has promised that a wide range of such decisions will, where at all feasible, be made by a panel of medical practitioners rather than a single medical referee. A full account of the Committee's action will appear in its next report to the Senate.

The Committee has also had some three months of discussions with the Minister for Territories and Local Government over the Dangerous Goods Ordinance 1984. Again, as a result of those discussions, the Committee is now satisfied with the amendments promised by the Minister-correcting in one case a serious misprint, and in three other cases reversal of onus provisions so that the defendant bears only an evidentiary, and not a persuasive, burden as currently provided for. I should also add that the Minister has satisfied the Committee that two other reversal of onus provisions are warranted by the legislation in circumstances where the defendant's own belief, rather than objective criteria, is the saving factor.

In addition, the Minister has promised to improve the quality of explanatory statements and is also pursuing a consolidated reprint of all dangerous goods legislation relevant to the Australian Capital Territory, as requested by the Committee. I thank the Senate and commend the Minister for his co-operation.