Page 5893 - Week 18 - Wednesday, 11 December 1991

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Clauses negatived.

Title agreed to.

Bill, as amended, agreed to.


Debate resumed from 16 October 1991, on motion by Mr Jensen:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

MR CONNOLLY (Attorney-General, Minister for Housing and Community Services and Minister for Urban Services) (12.20): Mr Speaker, the Government is not in a position to support Mr Jensen's proposed amendments to the Litter Act. That is not to say that we do not acknowledge where he is coming from or what he is trying to do. However, I think his proposal is an unsound way of going about it. What he is doing is creating two classes of offences under the Litter Act - one that applies if the litter is likely to cause injury to persons or damage to property, which carries a $2,000 penalty; and any other case, $250. No other State has such a provision, and my advice is that amending the Act in this way does not comply with established criminal law policy in that it creates two different penalties for essentially the one offence and is a very subjective creation of an offence.

I understand what Mr Jensen is getting at, and in his prime example it seems very reasonable. Mr Jensen says that, if somebody leaves broken glass or a syringe lying around, it is a more serious matter than if you throw away your pie wrapper. Indeed, that is a sensible proposition. But there is a vast area of grey here. The first and most obvious example is: What of the glass that is not broken but which may become broken? Is that "material that may cause injury to a person" or is that "any other case"? For the person who drops a glass bottle, not broken, is that a $2,000 offence or a $250 offence?

The pie wrapper we are talking about throwing away, we will assume, is a $250 offence, being a paper pie wrapper; but what if it is a plastic bag that a child can stick his head in, which can cause significant injury? What, indeed, of the piece of paper that can fly onto the road and hit the windscreen of a car? Creating a different offence with the subjective "Is the item likely to cause injury to persons or damage to property?", in the Government's view, is unsound and ought not to be supported.

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