Adjourned debate on second reading.
(Continued from 4 August 2016.)
Ms CHAPMAN ( Bragg—Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (17:00): The opposition will support the Statutes Amendment (SACAT) Amendment Bill 2016, as it is consequentially necessary to deal with the outcome of the bill we have just passed. On the assumption that that follows its normal passage, this is required. Can I say, however, how deeply disappointed I am that, when opening the SACAT bill, we are not transferring the next trove of jurisdictions that the government promised they would transfer after Guardianship and the Residential Tenancies Tribunal. On 17 May this year, the Attorney-General made a ministerial statement in which he confirmed SACAT's establishment and its transfer of these jurisdictions, together with the Valuer-General disputes, which the opposition pushed to be included. He said:
Since commencing operation, SACAT has been faced with challenges associated with the centralisation of separate decision-making bodies into a single tribunal. Challenges include the operational challenges of converting from a paper-based working model to an electronic paperless case management system, and workload issues associated w ith a more accessible tribunal.
He went on to say that, as a result, there was going to be a go-slow progression of this bill. It has obviously gone to completely glacial inaction. That is very concerning because we are the last jurisdiction in Australia to have an administrative tribunal. We have literally dozens of jurisdictions waiting to be transferred. The District Court is so overburdened that it has two-year waiting lists for trials. We are below the complement of judges in our superior courts; yet, the government persists in not getting this tribunal up and running.
It would have been acceptable if the two areas that were being transferred were actually going to be relocated into another building but, in fact, we had an upgrade of two chambers—for a District Court judge and a Supreme Court judge to have some new rooms and redecoration—and we had a change of a sign above the courtrooms that operated in exactly the same places. The Guardianship Board still operates at Collinswood in the ABC building. The Residential Tenancies Tribunal still operates in the same premises. They literally had to change the headings of the paperwork and the sign above the door.
It is nonsense to think that this government has not been able to progress an important area of reform. We fully supported the government to do it. This started back in 2013, and two and a bit jurisdictions have been transferred—that is all, out of hundreds of areas of reform that were to be transferred. I just cannot believe that the government could be so incompetent that we are opening up this bill to accommodate an expansion of a model in relation to employment law and we do nothing to deal with what are supposed to be all the benefits of this tribunal in the other model. It is very disappointing. The mark out of 10 is minus five.