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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 2 Hansard (21 February) . . Page.. 452..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

The new offence contained in proposed section 118A is based on the bushfire offence in chapter 4 of the Model Criminal Code. The Commonwealth Attorney-General has written to all jurisdictions urging them to take a national approach to the problem of deliberately lit bushfires by adopting this provision. It was specifically developed by the Model Criminal Code Officers Committee to deal with bushfires and was subject to nationwide consultation before being finalised in January 2001.

The fault elements of the new offence avoid the need to prove that the offender intended the fire to cause damage or to spread. Section 118A (1) contains separate fault elements which distinguish between the offender's state of mind in relation to causing the fire and his or her state of mind regarding the spread of the fire to vegetation on another person's property.

The first fault element will require the prosecution to establish that the offender either intended to cause the fire or was reckless in causing that fire. The second fault element requires the prosecution to show that the offender was reckless as to the spread of the fire to vegetation on another person's property. The second mental element will be established if the prosecution shows that the offender had realised that there was a substantial risk of the fire spreading to vegetation and property belonging to another person.

The concept of causing a fire is defined to include lighting a fire, maintaining a fire and failing to contain or extinguish a fire that the person lit. Maintaining a fire is included so that new offences cover persons who intentionally or recklessly add fuel to an existing fire, even though that person realises there is a risk of the fire spreading. Failing to contain or extinguish a fire will ensure the new offence applies to a person who lights a fire other than intentionally or recklessly-for example, who starts a fire accidentally or negligently but who then intentionally or recklessly fails to control the fire while it could be controlled, even though that person realises there is a risk of the fire spreading.

Debate (on motion by Mr Stefaniak ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Legislation Amendment Bill 2002

Mr Stanhope , pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by Clerk.

MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for Women) (10.37): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, this bill marks an important stage in the evolution of the Legislation Act. First, it completes the establishment of the legislative framework for the Public Access to Legislation project. Second, it provides more fully for the status of Legislation Act provisions. Third, it restates in an updated form some of the basic principles of statutory interpretation. Finally, the bill confirms the application of the common law privileges against self-incrimination and legal professional privilege.


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