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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 10 (19 October) . . Page.. 3353..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

Dragon Abreast Challenge. The Pink Ladies, of course, will continue to paddle their dragon boat, which they have paddled for many years. They paddle regularly in competition and they are an absolute highlight of that event. There will be a number of spectacles at the event. Indeed, my colleague Mr Smyth, currently sin binned from this place for a couple of hours, will be one of the presenters of the trophy which he very kindly donated for this particular event.

I think that Mr Smyth will be in the Pink Ladies team. I will be paddling along in, I think, the Eurovision team. I am rather glad that we will be adjourning a bit early because I will be able to get to training. I have not done it for a while. It is a very good event and I think it is wonderful to see this issue, breast cancer, highlighted by such events, particularly the highly impressive efforts of the Pink Ladies team, which has done such a great job to highlight it over the years and regularly participates in dragon boat activities.

I wish to raise another couple of matters. Firstly, I had the privilege to sit in court a couple of weeks ago to witness an historic judgment and sentence handed down in relation to probably one of the nastiest series of rapes in Canberra. They occurred on about five separate occasions, with a number of offences occurring on each occasion, and terrorised north Canberra and the inner part of Belconnen for several years—I think from 2002 to 2005. Justice Connolly, in an historic decision, sentenced the offender, in what I felt was an incredibly logical and measured judgment, to 37 years in jail, with a non-parole period of 25 years.

A lot of the victims were in court. I think that the whole process was done in such as way as to greatly assist in closure, as much as you can ever can have closure, for victims. As well as the excellent job of Justice Connolly, I thought that the efforts by both the defence counsel and the crown prosecutor were exemplary. It was an historic decision for the ACT. I think that decisions like that restore people's faith in the justice system.

On another matter, I noted with interest some of the comments made in the DPP's report. We will have the opportunity, obviously, through the annual reports process to investigate them further. It is a shame to see issues such as that raised in relation to problems between the DPP and the Supreme Court. A number of comments have been made already in the paper in relation to that, including by me. I would like to offer a suggestion there. I was pleased to see the law society offer to assist as well. Obviously, if the parties sit down and thrash out any difficulties, it will be good for the justice system.

I might say on the public record that the DPP is a fine man whom I have known for many years, as I have other staff in his office. Might I also say in relation to that that, if there are further difficulties with that, another suggestion I would make to the government is that it appoint a panel of, say, three recently retired judges, perhaps one from the ACT and two from interstate, just to look at the system, look at the issues and see whether they have any ideas and suggestions which would ensure that the system would be improved, to see whether there are any longstanding problems there and things that need to be fixed up or perhaps even knock a few heads together. I commend that idea to the government because it is worrying when things like that do crop up.

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