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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (19 August) . . Page.. 2826..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

a higher maximum penalty for this offence. There remains a real issue as to whether so-called consensual adult incest can truly be regarded as consensual when, in many instances, it will have started when one of the parties was a child who was powerless to prevent this form of abuse.

New provisions will be developed to enable police to ask the identity of persons loitering around schools, child-care centres and the like. Such powers will be able to be used only when there are reasonable grounds for police to believe that a person is a threat to the safety of children. There will also be provisions to enable restraining orders to be taken out to keep such persons away from schools and child-care centres. The government has agreed with the commission and the Model Criminal Code Officers Committee that there should be legislative protection afforded to sexual offence counselling notes. A bill to amend the Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1991 was introduced in the Assembly on 26 June 2003.

The bill's passage will be an important step in protecting the confidentiality of such material where there is no legitimate forensic purpose for their disclosure or their disclosure is not otherwise justified to ensure a fair trial to an accused person. Many of the other changes to the law will involve restructuring and streamlining of provisions, improvements to definitions, repealing obsolete provisions and, importantly, updating penalties for these offences. For many of the new provisions there will be an increase in the maximum penalties applicable.

I would like to express the government's appreciation to the Law Reform Commission for the extensive effort involved in its review of the sexual offence laws. It produced two discussion papers prior to its final report in a process that considered a wide range of views on this difficult and sensitive area of the criminal law. Sexual violence is an insidious and unfortunate feature of our society. Sexual offences are perpetrated against women, children and men every day. Many go unreported.

This government is committed to ensuring that our sexual offence legislation is as effective and responsive as possible, to maximise the prospects of bringing sex offenders to account and to avoid further unnecessary stress to complainants. The course that the government proposes in responding to the Law Reform Commission and Model Criminal Code Officers Committee reports will assist us in achieving these objectives. I commend the response to the Assembly.

Papers

Mr Stanhope presented the following paper:

Legal Aid Act, pursuant to section 8-Legal Aid (Funding Agreement, National Security matters Guideline)-Direction 2003, dated 28 July 2003, together with an explanatory statement and an agreement between Commonwealth of Australia and Australian Capital Territory in relation to Provision of Legal Assistance.

Mr Quinlan presented the following papers:

Territory Owned Corporations Act, pursuant to section 16 (3)-Consent of Voting Shareholders regarding disposal of main undertakings of Totalcare, dated 19 August 2003.


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