Page 1309 - Week 04 - Thursday, 5 May 2022

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Amendment No 3 introduces proposed new section 50C, which makes provision for a definition of a sexual act, as requested in the government’s response to the bill tabled. The definition is a technical amendment to avoid interpretive difficulties, to create clarity and avoids leaving open any possible gaps in the definition and interpretation of a sexual act for the purpose of sexual offences at part 3 of the Crimes Act 1900. The definition aligns with that of comparable New South Wales legislation.

MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong—Attorney-General, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Gaming and Minister for Water, Energy and Emissions Reduction) (4.21): I would like to take this opportunity to express my and the government’s support for Dr Paterson’s amendments to the Crimes (Consent) Amendment Bill 2022. I will speak to all of them now because my remarks cover each of the amendments. These amendments respond to the comments raised by the justice and community safety scrutiny committee in its report of 15 March this year, and they are the result of effective collaboration and consultation with key stakeholders.

In addition to the amendments tabled today, I welcome the changes made to the revised explanatory statement, which respond to comments made by the justice and community safety scrutiny committee and the ACT government’s response. I note that the revised explanatory statement provides clarification about how the bill is intended to apply in practice and clearly sets out the boundaries of behaviours that are designed to support the most vulnerable in our community in the most vulnerable of circumstances.

The revised explanatory statement clarifies that the proposed test in section 67(1)(g) aligns with growing community expectations about consent and is not intended to introduce a higher test to negate consent. That is, it continues to be for the prosecution to establish that an accused person was unreasonable in their mistaken belief in consent, if any.

The revised explanatory statement now clarifies that both surrender and freeze responses have been contemplated by the bill and that the new laws address these two responses through the new principles of consent at new section 50A of the bill. The revised explanatory statement also includes a more detailed human rights analysis of the amendments and modifies its language with reference to gender identity.

That goes to the issues in the revised explanatory statement in terms of the detailed amendments that Dr Paterson has already introduced and will introduce further. I can indicate the government support for all of those. We believe that they both address a number of technical matters that were raised through the development of the bill and also add clarification for issues that have been flagged in a number of questions raised with Dr Paterson. I confirm our ongoing support for each of those amendments.

MS LEE (Kurrajong—Leader of the Opposition) (4.24): I do not intend to speak long on this amendment, only to clarify and confirm that the Canberra Liberals support the amendments. As spoken by the Attorney-General, they reflect the feedback that has been provided to Dr Paterson from the scrutiny of bills committee. I can also confirm that the Canberra Liberals will support the other amendments.

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