Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 01 Hansard (Tuesday, 12 February 2008) . . Page.. 13 ..
The government supports the measures set out in this package as another option for police officers to have at their disposal. While the bill creates two new offences, police will still have the discretion to pursue the offence carrying the more serious charge. The decision to charge offences remains with the officer’s discretion and will involve an assessment of the circumstances surrounding the commission of the offence and an appraisal of the appropriate course of action in the light of these circumstances. This bill will not interfere with police expertise when determining the most appropriate course of action.
Mr Acting Speaker, the government will soon introduce into the Assembly the new option of court attendance notices, which will expedite the process of bringing charges before the court. The use of court attendance notices will be more efficient, as police are not required to lay an information, saving time and money and keeping more police on the street. The use of court attendance notices will also leave more time for the courts to deal with more substantive issues. The use of court attendance notices will apply to all minor offences where court proceedings would have been otherwise commenced by way of a summons, such as fighting and assault. These reforms, Mr Acting Speaker, will further complement the package of measures I am introducing today.
The government has also publicly stated that it would undertake a review of the Liquor Act 1975. That review will seek to determine whether the current law is adequate in satisfying community expectations about the responsible sale and consumption of alcohol in the territory. As part of this process, the review will examine the appropriateness and effectiveness of the legislative and regulatory regimes of the current liquor laws within the ACT community. For these reasons, Mr Acting Speaker, the government does not support the proposals set out in Mr Stefaniak’s bill that deal with the sale of liquor, and these are matters dealt with as part of a comprehensive review of the Liquor Act.
I would also like to draw the Assembly’s attention to a report on this very topic by the Community Law Reform Commission tabled in this place by the then Attorney-General, Mr Humphries, on 25 September 1997. I also point out for members that this report was prepared following a reference to the commission by Justice Terry Connolly when he was the Attorney-General. During debate in 1997, the third Assembly relied heavily on the findings and recommendations of this report in arriving at the final form of the Crimes (Amendment) Act (No 4) 1997. Some of the concerns pointed out by the commission in 1997 are still relevant today.
For these reasons and others, Mr Acting Speaker, and the concerns around the use of infringement notices for criminal offences generally, I will be asking the Chief Police Officer to report to me after a period of 12 months on the use of these fines by ACT Policing. I will also ask the commonwealth Ombudsman, as the ACT Ombudsman, to review the implementation of infringement notices covered by the Bill during the first 12 months of its operation. I will ask the Ombudsman to report to the government on any issue of concern in relation to the service of these infringement notices by ACT Policing and other persons authorised under the regulations.