Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 1 May 1991



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 1 May 1991

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Parliamentary Record 3


Debates for 6th Assembly 1990 - 1994; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 6th Assembly 1990 - 1994




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Wednesday 1 May 1991 suffered economic loss in that regard. Of course, the decision sent a shiver through all public authorities and I dare say may have provided part of the inspiration for this provision. I do not believe that, in his comments to the Assembly, the minister referred to the need to restrict liability in this way. As I said in my comments in the second-reading debate, the opposition believes that the bill offers positive advantages in respect of the registration of titles and represents a positive recognition of the role of computers in the provision of modern records. In that context, I believe that we should be prepared to accept the capacity of people to provide that information in a reliable fashion. I am concerned by the implications of this proposed subsection. It is an opposition decision that we should seek the deletion of this subsection from proposed section 191E. Hr MANZIE: Mr Chairman, the member for MacDonnell certainly hit the nail on the head in terms of the problem involved. As the honourable member would be aware, this section also limits liability in relation to the Commonwealth, local government bodies etc. It is across the spectrum. It is a concern that all areas of government, including local government and the Commonwealth government, have in relation to providing a service and then being liable for any inaccuracies which, through no fault of anyone, may occur as a result of the provision of that service. Certainly, I would not be willing to agree to the omission of this proposed subsection at this stage because we may be prevented from obtaining information from local government bodies if we do not provide that guarantee of limiting any liability to those parties. The whole object of this exercise would then be null and void in that we are trying to provide information electronically to people who require that information. It is rather unfortunate that we have seen in this country a level of litigation which is starting to bring the kinds of problems that are seen in America where nobody will do anything, say anything, assist anyone or provide any information unless they have insurance that protects them totally and entirely in relation to that advice, help, information etc because of the propensity of people to sue. I do not agree with the proposal to delete this provision. It would be counter to the aims of the legislation if we had in place something which would prevent the lodgment of information from other bodies. Although I can understand the concerns of the member for MacDonnell, we are attempting to leave the situation as it has been in practice until such time as liability has been sheeted home in relation to the Parramatta circumstances. If we need to make an amendment in the future, I would consider that. At this stage, I will reject the honourable member's amendment because it would prevent us from providing the information electronically. Hr BELL: Mr Chairman, I note the comments of the Attorney-General. Although I accept that he is not prepared to agree to this amendment, I believe that the general issue of liability in this regard deserves some consideration. It 1s not a minor area. Obviously, the Real Property Act Involves the transfer of titles and a degree of security for ordinary people who are selling or buying a house. In commercial circumstances, where the Real Property Act is involved, it is necessary to ensure a degree of security. That is one of the reasons why you are not allowed to contract to sell land on the nod of a head or the shake of a hand. I note those concerns but, if public authorities are becoming nervous about their liability 1n respect of the provision of information, that is a major Issue that ought to be addressed. Obviously, it goes far beyond the Real Property 873

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