Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 24 June 2010) . . Page.. 2397 ..
What is clear, however, are the three arguments that have been raised with my office about why our amendments should not pass or, put another way, why the lower threshold is appropriate. I will address each now and set out why we do not think they warrant the lower threshold being used.
The first argument is that “suspicion” is used in the national model bill signed off by the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General and has been implemented by New South Wales and Victoria. The intent of the laws is to work in conjunction with corresponding laws interstate so that a warrant issued here in the ACT can be used in New South Wales and vice versa.
Neither the Greens nor the Liberals sit on the standing committee and do not have input into its decisions. It is an often-used argument that, because something has been agreed to by the standing committee or by COAG, individual states and territories cannot interfere during their legislative process. The Greens reject that argument. To say that the ACT Legislative Assembly does not have the right or power to make its own law is misleading and devalues the role that we have. We will continue to apply our own principles and thought to all legislation that comes to the Assembly.
Further, by setting a higher threshold test, the system of corresponding laws will not be put in jeopardy. Warrants issued in the ACT will continue to be able to be used interstate. The explanatory statement makes that clear when it says:
It is not intended that mutual recognition would be defeated if corresponding law was not cast in exactly the same terms as the Territory’s law.
The second argument is that a review of all ACT criminal thresholds is imminent and that this issue can be revisited then. The Greens cannot agree with this justification. If the Assembly does have a view on what the appropriate threshold test is when introducing new law, then it should be passed that way the first time around. Put simply, the Greens believe that, if something is worth legislating, it is worth doing correctly the first time.
The third argument is that the Human Rights Act would operate to require “reasonable belief” or “suspicion” to be read up to actually mean “reasonable belief”. The two points on this last issue are that, if “reasonable belief” is the appropriate test in light of human rights, then this should be set out in the legislation up front, rather than left to decision makers to read up or down words based on the Human Rights Act and this jurisdiction’s commitment to that.
The second point is that these laws envisage applications being made over the phone in times of stress and urgency. We should give decision makers all the assistance we can to make their decision-making process clear. Requiring them to read words up or down cannot help them in their decision-making process as they try to contemplate what impact the Human Rights Act might have in the application of the legislation.
To conclude on this amendment, the ACT is a human rights jurisdiction. We should not be afraid of leading the pack because of that. Rather, we should be proud of occupying that place. We, as legislators, must bear human rights firmly in mind when