Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 5 Hansard (9 May) . . Page.. 1401..
MR STEFANIAK (continuing):
It is an artificial exercise and, I think, says something about the government's rationale in quoting some European human rights legislation and saying that, because a child is anyone under 18, therefore we should not include them. There is no natural age here. A person under 18 can be potentially a terrorist. Sixteen and 17-year-olds in our community are unfortunately quite capable of committing quite horrendous crimes.
Sixteen and 17-year-olds also have a number of rights and responsibilities in our law. One example is marriage. If two young people want to get married and one is 16 and one is 18, the 16-year-old only needs the parents' consent. That is a pretty big step. At 17 you can get a drivers licence or join the army At 16 you can get L-plates. There is any number of things that the law allows a 16 or 17-year-old to do in the ACT.
Mr Stanhope: Unless you are gay.
MR STEFANIAK: You will probably pass that, Mr Stanhope. Anticipating your bill on Thursday, at 16 two people of the same sex or of different sexes will be able to enter into a civil union. So there is another example of something that might well happen.
Mr Corbell: You are saying that might well happen.
MR STEFANIAK: Yes, we do. That is something that you are pushing for. You will do that. You will accept that a 17-year-old can drive. You will accept that a 16-year-old, with the consent of parents, can enter into a marriage with an 18-year-old because that is federal law. I have never heard you to have a problem with that. I have never heard you to have a problem with 16 and 17-year-olds going out into the work force, and I mentioned the example of how old you have to be to join the armed services.
Yet here you are citing some human rights convention and saying that a preventative detention order cannot be issued for a 16 or 17-year-old. What arrant nonsense! There are a lot of provisions in respect of young people. Under our law young people are capable of being prosecuted for very serious offences. There have been instances, even in the territory, where people under the age of 18 have been prosecuted and, indeed, convicted for killing other people.
There are proper provisions in legislation in relation to where they should be housed, and that is at Quamby. We have had some quite serious crimes. At present there are young people at Quamby aged 16 and 17 who have committed very serious crimes and been convicted by the courts. The conditions there and the way Quamby operates are different from an adult custodial institution because it is a juvenile institution.
There is any number of protections for 16 or 17-year-olds who are being incarcerated. The commonwealth and every other state and territory make provision for 16 and 17-year-olds who are likely to commit a terrorist act. The ACT government is the only government that will not do so. They might laugh it off, but this again is their warped idea of human rights. To hell with the human rights of the rest of the community! We have this obsession here with the rights of would-be terrorists. Sadly, young people can be badly influenced by others to commit crimes, and this is particularly true of terrorism.