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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 3 Hansard (28 May) . . Page.. 704..


MR SMYTH (continuing):

Finally, these reforms will also enable the ACT to regulate the gas industry in a consistent and cost-effective manner, and so ensure consumer confidence in gas as an energy choice. I commend the Gas Supply Bill 1998 to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Hargreaves) adjourned.

CRIMES (AMENDMENT) BILL (NO. 4) 1998

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (11.42): Mr Speaker, I would like to try again to present the Crimes (Amendment) Bill (No. 4) 1998, together with its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by Clerk.

MR HUMPHRIES: I move:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, I am not sure whether, had I read the speech I was given, anyone would have noticed that I was missing two pages. But, just in case they did, I had better do it again properly.

Mr Speaker, the Crimes (Amendment) Bill (No. 4) 1998 addresses the widespread public concern which followed an ACT Magistrates Court decision last year to acquit a defendant of assault on the ground that the defendant was too intoxicated to form an intent to commit the offence. It must be stressed, Mr Speaker, that in introducing this legislation the Government makes no comment upon the application of the law by the Magistrates Court in that case. To do so would be quite inappropriate. However, it is entirely appropriate for the Government, and this Assembly, to consider whether as a matter of policy the law in the ACT on the issue of intoxication is in keeping with community standards and expectations. There can be little doubt, having regard to the understandable public outcry over the law on this matter, that a change to the law is required.

Briefly, the law in the ACT, as a result of the High Court 4 : 3 decision in the O'Connor case in 1980, means that a defendant can avoid criminal liability if a court is satisfied that because of gross intoxication, whether or not self-induced, the defendant's actions are not voluntary. The so-called "O'Connor defence" applies in the Territory as part of the common law. It also applies in Victoria and South Australia. In New South Wales - another common law jurisdiction - legislation was enacted in 1996 so that a defendant is not able to avoid criminal liability due to self-induced intoxication in cases involving a basic intent offence. In those Australian jurisdictions which have a criminal code -


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