Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 27 October 2010) . . Page.. 5164 ..
MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (3.06): Speaking to the amendment, I guess it will come as no surprise that I am a little surprised and disappointed that neither the government nor the opposition is willing to support the Greens in our call for an Assembly decision point on the issue of tasers. I cannot think of a more appropriate and necessary debate to take place in this chamber. And I would like to respond to a couple of the points that have been raised in the context of talking about this amendment.
Certainly, with regard to the Liberal Party, this is a chance to hold the government to account. And I am surprised they are passing it up, given the lines that we often hear being flung across the chamber in this place. This is a real-life, practical opportunity to do it and it is a shame it is not being taken up.
Mr Hanson has referred to this as being an operational police matter. Whilst to some extent it is, I also would argue that it is a matter of significant public interest and importance and I do not think it is one that we should simply delegate when the potential impact on the public is significant. I think I made the point in my opening remarks about the fact that there is a level of public discourse and/or concern on this and I believe it is up to members to take part in that public conversation.
I also note the comments that Mr Hanson was quoted as making in this morning’s Canberra Times that this matter had already been debated by the Assembly. I presume he was referring to the 2007 Assembly committee inquiry into police use of force. If I am correct in understanding that, then it certainly has been inquired into and I think it is interesting to reflect on that inquiry and the makeup of the committee that looked at it and its key findings.
The committee members on that inquiry were Mr Seselja, Karin MacDonald and my colleague from the Greens, Deb Foskey. Their key recommendation, No 4 in the findings of that inquiry was:
The Committee recommends that TASERS are deployed by tactical response group members only and should not be generally deployed by ACT Policing as standard issue gear.
That was in 2007. So it was clear that, in 2007, Mr Seselja and the Liberal Party thought it was good enough for the Assembly to take a view on whether the police should have the deployment of tasers as a general issue. But certainly they do not hold that now and I think it is a shame they have backed down from taking the responsibility they thought it was appropriate to take in 2007.
Finally, in response to Mr Hanson’s comments, I would like to cast back to some earlier days in this term, in case he is uncomfortable with casting back to Mr Seselja’s position in the last term. In the earlier days of this Assembly we had not one but two random drug-driving bills before the Assembly for debate, one from the government and one from Mr Hanson. Each of those bills was designed to armour police with drug swipes to test drivers for the presence of drugs in their system. Certainly, much debate was had. Assembly resources were consumed and column inches were devoted to the topic. And I think the ultimate outcome was a good one.