Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 6 Hansard (5 June) . . Page.. 1391..
MR SESELJA (continuing):
streets rally and the 21/2 years which the complaint took to be finalised. The committee considers this to be an inordinately lengthy time for a relatively straightforward complaint to be resolved. However, the focus of the committee's recommendations lies in data collection and access and community liaison for potential crowd control matters. The committee's concerns in relation to data collection access were also reflected in a KPMG report released by the minister late last year.
I would like to thank the committee secretary, Robina Jaffray, for all of her work. I thank my Assembly committee colleagues Karin MacDonald and Deb Foskey. I commend the report to the Assembly.
DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (10.36): I, too, welcome the report on police powers of crowd control, especially because I referred this matter to the legal affairs committee. However, I am concerned that the issue that gave rise to concern in the community and inspired me to refer the matter for inquiry remains unresolved. That is the issue Mr Seselja referred to: the investigation into what appeared to be an inappropriate use of the crowd control method of capsicum spray on two young people.
The reason I am concerned is that the incident occurred on the day of the federal election in 2004. The demonstration was a reclaim the streets rally, a fairly harmless event where a number of people walked from Northbourne Avenue and gathered on the grassy verge at the corner of London Circuit and Northbourne Avenue. It was while they were on that grassy verge—not impeding traffic in any way, just being absolutely law abiding—that this young brother and sister were treated with the capsicum spray.
The inquiry into that incident has taken a very long time to go through all the processes that exist within ACT Policing and now with the Ombudsman. It is not resolved at a time when we have another federal election coming, when we can expect more demonstrations and rallies. I think we would like to know that the use of police powers will always—as has been the case in other instances—be appropriate. That is my concern.
This is an excellent report. It is a broad-ranging survey of the use of police powers around the country. In that sense it is a very useful report which I commend to the Assembly.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Statement by chair
MR SESELJA: I seek leave to make a statement regarding a new inquiry.
MR SESELJA: In light of recent bushfire events, including the 2001 and 2003 fires, the Standing Committee on Legal Affairs recently resolved to conduct an inquiry into ACT fire and emergency services arrangements with the following terms of reference:
1) Assess issues raised and recommendations made in the McBeth and McLeod reports, the 2003 bushfire coronial report and other relevant reports;