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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 989..


MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

I have seen a legal advice from Mr Corr of counsel on the constitutionality of these provisions. I do not wish to enter into strong debate on what this opinion says; but the opinion, which I think members in this place have seen, argues that to conduct a frisk search or an ordinary search of a suspect whom a police officer suspects on reasonable grounds to have a knife is potentially ultra vires the Australian Constitution and the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act. The opinion depends on the premise that in order to conduct a search the police officer must of necessity detain the person. That, I am advised, is a premise which is not justified by the legislation. It is possible to search without detaining a person, I am advised, and therefore - - -

Mr Wood: How do you do that?

MR HUMPHRIES: Because it is done by consent, Mr Wood. That is how you do it. Therefore, the premise and the opinion, I am advised, are not justifiable. I am content to see the legislation pass. I do have some concerns about the forfeiture of knives, and the permanent forfeiture of knives in certain circumstances. I have amendments which I have circulated in the chamber today, and I will speak to those when we come to the detail stage of the Bill.

MS TUCKER (11.37): Mr Speaker, there are parts of this Bill which the Greens can support. I understand that we will be dealing with the Bill in detail and I will be opposing the clause in regard to the search. The legal opinion that I sought and that Mr Humphries has referred to already is, I believe, a concern. I think I am prepared to support the other aspects of this Bill, although I am interested to see Mr Humphries's amendments to the forfeiture clause. I am quite happy to support the proposition that people do not have these sorts of weapons, and that it is seen to be an offence to have them. I will not be supporting the fifth clause.

MR OSBORNE (11.38): Mr Speaker, I rise to give strong support to the Bill presented by my colleague Dave Rugendyke. Mr Rugendyke has worked hard on this, and I believe that he and his staff have done an admirable job.

In essence, Mr Speaker, the Bill does two things. It makes it an offence for a person to carry a knife in a public place, and it bans the sale of knives to people under the age of 16. It also removes the right of people to argue before a court that they carry a knife for the purpose of self-defence. It is, in effect, similar to legislation brought in by the Carr Labor Government in New South Wales which will come into effect in July. However, it does not go quite as far as that law, as it does not seek to make parents liable if their children are found carrying knives. Perhaps that is something we can look at later, Mr Speaker. I might lean to the right, but I see no reason to topple over the edge following Mr Carr's lead.

It has been said that legislation such as this cannot stop people from carrying knives, and perhaps there is some truth in that. Some people will break the law no matter what laws we pass, just as some people continue to cling to their guns despite the nationwide attempt to wipe the scourge of guns from our community. Be that as it may, Mr Speaker,


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