Parliamentary record : Part I debates (16 February 1989)
Debates for 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
Northern Territory Legislative Assembly
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Thursday 16 February 1989 busy place. It is the hub where most international shipping interchange occurs and it is very critical to the operation of the Port of Darwin. Again, the response was extremely supportive and positive. The member for Jingili inquired about bulk handling. At the moment, we have facilities to handle lead and zinc and all the other products he mentioned. There is one thing we will have to do, and I hope it will come about very soon. If the McArthur River project goes ahead in the next few years, and if the company sees its way to utilising the north-south rail by bringing a link across in the region of Tennant Creek, we would need to make provision for some additional 0.25 million tonnes per annum in and out of the Port of Darwin. That is an extremely large additional load, and the Port Authority would need to look at specific handling facilities for it. Mr Deputy Speaker, I thank honourable members for their contributions. If nothing else, if we have enabled members to understand the progress that has been made and to go away to sing the praises of the Port of Darwin and help to promote it through positive statements, we will have achieved all that we sought to do. Motion agreed to. LOCAL COURT BILL (Serial 144) Bill presented and read a first time. Mr MANZIE (Attorney-General): Mr Speaker, I move that the bill be now read a second time. Magistrates' courts are the busiest courts in the Territory. Over 90% of all legal proceedings take place in magistrates courts. The government has continually emphasised the need for reform in the court system and judicial administration, a key aspect of that reform being to upgrade the status of magistrates' course and and to modernise them. Key initiatives have included the significant expansion of the court's civil jurisdiction under the Work Health Act, the development of new dispute resolution procedures, such as pre-hearing conferences under the Small Claims Act and, on the criminal side, streamlined penalty enforcement procedures. We now have in the Territory a magistrates' courts system which is second to none in Australia. This bill provides for a new Local Court structure. It will facilitate the substantial increase and modernisation of the court's civil jurisdiction. It is a result of work by representatives of the magistracy and officers of my department. Throughout its preparation, there has been consultation with persons likely to be affected by the bill. Some months ago, I released a draft comment by the Bar Association and the Law Society. I am pleased to say that the bill has received strong support from the legal profession and magistrates. The jurisdiction of the court is set out in clause 14. The jurisdictional limit of the court will be raised to $40 000. Clause 14(1)(b) contains a clear statement of the court's jurisdiction to grant equitable relief. These reforms, in particular the raising of the jurisdictional limit to $40 000, will lead to the more efficient control and disposal of civil litigation in the Northern Territory court system. As recently as 6 years ago, the magistrates' courts played a minor role in dealing with the community's civil litigation. The relocation of a significant element of civil litigation to 5600
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