Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 2 Hansard (7 March) . . Page.. 349..
MR STANHOPE: It does. In relation to every possible offence that you could conceive against a pregnant woman, the penalty is increased. Whether it is manslaughter, intentionally inflicting grievous bodily harm, recklessly inflicting grievous bodily harm, wounding, inflicting actual bodily harm, occasioning actual bodily harm, culpable driving of a motor vehicle causing death, culpable driving of a motor vehicle causing grievous bodily harm, the penalties are increased if the victim of those offences is a pregnant woman. It covers the field. If anybody offends against a pregnant woman, this community is sending a loud, hard message that you will be punished and doubly punished. The purpose of these provisions in this bill is to ensure that we as a community express our abhorrence of anybody or any act that intentionally targets a pregnant woman and her unborn baby.
MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (12.12): Mr Speaker, I listened with interest to what the attorney had to say. I think a very salient point can be made about the Queensland legislation. Although the attorney may not have said that the opposition was dishonest, he could have used the word "disingenuous". I think this could apply to the government. I do not have the Queensland legislation in front of me-I did see it the last time we had this debate-but the attorney conceded that they have moved away from the longstanding principle that he spoke of. He also indicated that they have introduced a separate provision. Well, it seems to me that that is exactly what Mr Pratt has done in his proposed new section 42A. He has introduced a separate provision.
In an attempt not to reopen the debate in relation to abortion, the attorney seems to have ensured that this particular offence and the section do not apply to certain situations. But they relate to the issue of abortion. So quite clearly, Mr Speaker, I would think he seems to have very much introduced a separate provision. I am sure Mr Pratt would be very happy if the attorney just introduced the Queensland provisions. I think he spoke quite fondly about them, as did I, in the previous debate. They are very good, strong provisions which certainly carry the relevant deterrent factor which, despite what is being said in this place, we all seem to want to achieve here.
It is not the case that the opposition is not supporting the government's bill. It is actually supporting the government's bill. What we are saying is there are better ways of doing it. You are right, attorney: this is the third time round and the government has voted against Mr Pratt's bill on two previous occasions. We are now back dealing with the government's bill.
I think it is quite interesting to see the attorney indicate that, "Oh no, this is not the government reacting at all."As he said, the government is going through a process of introducing a criminal code. Yes, it is a very lengthy and complex situation. It is a very important piece of legislation. I would hope that Australia-wide there will be a national criminal code some day. And yes, it does take time. It is a major reform of the law. I am pleased to see that the next chapter of the code will be crimes against the person because that, probably more than any other crime, is what concerns people most in the community. People mostly fear what could happen to them and their loved ones. This is the area of criminal law that people are most interested in. They want to see that justice is done and that hopefully people are deterred from committing particularly nasty crimes against the person.