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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 3 Hansard (11 March) . . Page.. 1159..

MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for Environment) (9.54): As I explained in my presentation speech last year on the Criminal Code (Theft, Fraud, Bribery and Related Offences) Amendment Bill 2003, the bill will implement phase 3 of the criminal code project by reforming the law of the ACT on theft, fraud, blackmail, forgery, bribery and other related matters. The bill will also significantly rationalise and reduce the ACT statute book by repealing numerous offences in other legislation that will be made redundant by the new codified offences in the bill. Further, the bill will continue to work at the previous phase of the criminal code project by applying the corporate criminal responsibility provisions of the code to all ACT offences. At present they only apply to offences commenced after 1 January 2003.

It is not my intention to repeat all the many improvements that the bill will make to the state of the law in the ACT. These are well summarised in the presentation speech I delivered last year. However, to assist the Assembly with the breadth of the reforms in the bill I will highlight some of the more significant points. In addition to generally modernising and making the law that it covers easy to understand, the bill will also introduce new offences to the ACT on conspiracy to defraud, and payola. It will eliminate many of the complexities in the law of theft, fraud and forgery and will clarify the way in which blackmail applies where the victim is a corporation or government. It will extend the law on robbery and burglary to close some technical gaps that perpetrators can exploit and will simplify the traditionally complex offence of receiving by removing categories that are more properly dealt with by the offences on complicity and accessory after the fact. It will rationalise and standardise the offences that protect the public purse and will extend the bribery and corruption offences to apply to both public sector officials and private sector agents.

The government has a few brief amendments to move to the bill which I will address more fully in due course. At the moment, the most minor consequential amendments to other acts will substitute references to offences in the Crimes Act with references to the replacement offences in the criminal code. The more notable amendment arises from the Scrutiny of Bills report No 44 and concerns subclause 377(4) of the bill. That provision allows the minister to make a direction about how forfeited goods would be dealt with. The committee suggested that the minister's direction should be a disallowable instrument. The government agrees and thanks the committee for its comments on the issue.

Finally, the government will move to amend schedule 1 of the bill by including an additional amendment to the Land (Planning and Environment) Act in the same terms as the other amendments in the schedule. I commend this particular significant piece of law reform to the Assembly.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Detail stage

Bill, by leave, taken as a whole.

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