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Tuesday, 15 March 2005
Page: 90

Senator GREIG (6:36 PM) —The Democrats oppose item 226 in schedule 1 in the following terms:

(3)    Schedule 1, item 226, page 65 (line 25), to page 66 (line 29), TO BE OPPOSED.

Our opposition to this schedule goes to the heart of our concern regarding the constitution of multimember panels. As I noted in my speech in the second reading debate, the bill will remove the requirement for multimember panels to include at least one senior member. We Democrats have serious concerns regarding this proposed change. As the National Welfare Rights Network noted:

... the practice of the Tribunal is to constitute multi-member Tribunals in cases involving significant questions of law, complex issues of fact and detailed consideration of scientific or medical evidence.

We Democrats note that senior members are by definition legal practitioners who have been enrolled for at least five years or individuals who possess special or particular knowledge or skills. But, given the complexity of the matters assigned multimember panels, we take the view that it is vital for these panels to include at least one practitioner or other senior member with relevant expertise. The purpose of our opposition to this schedule is to retain this requirement.