Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1993 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 17 February 1993) . . Page.. 123 ..
Wednesday, 17 February 1993
MADAM SPEAKER (Ms McRae) took the chair at 10.30 am and read the prayer.
CRIMES (AMENDMENT) BILL 1993
MR MOORE (10.31): Madam Speaker, I present the Crimes (Amendment) Bill 1993.
Title read by Clerk.
MR MOORE: I move:
That this Bill be agreed to in principle.
Madam Speaker, the Crimes (Amendment) Bill 1993 is a quite simple and short Bill that could have major ramifications for some of the problems we have seen the police dealing with over the last three or four months in particular. I remind members that it was in December that we passed very quickly an amendment to the Crimes Act moved by Mr Connolly which became section 545A and which created the new offence of fighting. I think that was the first step in giving the police more flexibility to deal with problems of public misbehaviour.
This Bill is an attempt to increase the flexibility police have in dealing with public misbehaviour and also to give them the choice of charging people or giving them an on-the-spot fine, which is the effect of the Bill. The most important thing is the flexibility of the police. One of the things I observed when the police were kind enough to take me on their rounds on a Saturday night was that the police lacked a certain amount of flexibility. More importantly, when a situation arose where they needed to charge a member of the public, particularly for public misbehaviour, it would require two police officers to go back to the station to charge that person. That is the normal method of dealing with the situation.
It occurred to me that it would be a much more effective method of dealing with public misbehaviour if we could apply the systems we use for motor vehicle offences and give the police the flexibility to give an on-the-spot fine - I have identified that on-the-spot fine as being $100 - for such offences as street fighting, misbehaviour at public meetings, possession of offensive weapons, fighting, offensive behaviour, indecent exposure, noise abatement directions and public mischief. I will go through those one at a time to illustrate why I have chosen each one.
The Crimes Act at section 482 provides a $1,000 fine or imprisonment for six months. It reads:
A person shall not, in any premises in which a public meeting is being held, behave in a manner that disrupts, or is likely to disrupt, the meeting.