Page 2328 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 3 August 2022

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We will not suddenly see everything change the day after these amendments commence and then spend two years analysing those results.

The processes will take time—whether it be the time needed to engage in criminal investigations, proceedings, sentencing and rehabilitation or the time taken for cultural shifts stemming from the legislation to take place. If the review is undertaken after only two years, it does seem pretty likely that the information to inform the review will be insufficiently developed. I do acknowledge that the Assembly, rightly, regards domestic and family violence laws as something needing continual attention. That is why we will be providing an update to the Assembly after two years.

This leads me to the second reason why we will not be supporting the amendments. The Justice and Community Safety Standing Committee, when they undertook their inquiry, specifically noted that a three-year review is appropriate but recommended that any early information should be brought, in a two-year update, to the Assembly. The government agreed to this recommendation from the committee. If I could quote from the committee’s report, paragraph 4.38 stated:

The Committee agreed with the three-year review but noted that there should be monitoring of data to support it, particularly noting the concerns in respect of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

At recommendation 5 the committee said:

The Committee recommends that in two years from the commencement of the Act, the Attorney-General provide an update to the Assembly on the impact of the legislation.

And at recommendation 6 it stated:

The Committee recommends that the ACT Government, as part of the review of the legislation after three years, assess the impact on offender rehabilitation of longer sentencing under the aggravated offence scheme.

Therefore, it has come as somewhat of a surprise to me that Mr Cain, who is the chair of the JACS committee that made these recommendations, has now come in with a different amendment. He comes to the place saying that the review said be after two years. Fair enough. I guess we all change our mind at times. But the only effect of this would be that the review—in my view and on the advice that we have received—would be hampered by a shortage of information. I think the quality of the findings of that review would therefore suffer.

Mr Cain, this morning, said that he wanted to take the recommendation a little bit further. I suppose that is what his amendment does. But we have actually agreed with the committee recommendations. I think that is quite a good way to proceed. I am comfortable to come back and give an update after two years with whatever data and community feedback we have got. But I would prefer, and I think it is a better approach, to take the three years of data that we will have received and have the review at that point. So I appreciate the sentiment, but the government will not be supporting Mr Cain’s amendments.

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