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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 February 2018) . . Page.. 435 ..


position when we were dealing with this amendment on the fly. Having spoken to the bar and having sought my own legal advice, I am satisfied that this will cover it, in the short time frame that I have had to look at it. But I foreshadow that if, on further examination, I am not satisfied, we will come back, in order to make that point very clear. We do not want to be prosecuting people for crimes that were not crimes back in 1984 or before. It is a very important issue.

Let us recognise what we are dealing with here, which is a technical drafting issue that needs to be addressed and that I think in part has been satisfied. With respect to trying to characterise those people that raised concerns as trivialising sexual offences against children, I do not know who wrote your speech for you, Attorney-General, but they can do better.

MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (4.59): The Greens will be supporting the government’s amendments. I understand that these amendments follow on from the concerns raised regarding the breadth of the bill and, in particular, by the ACT Bar Association. I thank the Bar Association for raising their concerns with the Attorney-General. I think these amendments clarify important elements regarding what conduct is captured by the bill.

The amendments, I understand, make it clear that the laws do not apply retrospectively. For an accused to be prosecuted, the crime for which they are prosecuted must have been an offence at the time the act was committed. The ACT Greens welcome these amendments. The prohibition of retrospective criminal laws is a fundamental human right and is contained in our Human Rights Act, as well as numerous international treaties, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. As a human rights jurisdiction, it is important that every effort is made to safeguard these rights. While it was never, I am sure, the intention of the initial bill to create retrospective criminal offences, these amendments will ensure that the bill cannot be interpreted in this way.

The government amendments provide an important clarification with regard to section 66 of the Crimes Act—the grooming offences. Grooming refers to an adult gaining the trust of a child in order to take sexual advantage of that child. This can include the giving of gifts, sending messages on social media or giving a child extra attention. These individual acts in themselves may not be an offence, which has previously made it difficult to prosecute this type of conduct. The new offence will capture conduct which is done with the intention of grooming the child to be involved in a sexual offence.

Concerns were raised that, as originally drafted, the offence could cover acts which were not intended to be covered. For example, a sexual education class at school could be covered, and that teacher could be prosecuted for grooming a child, as presenting an educational video in a classroom could be interpreted as encouraging a young person to take part in a sexual act. Clearly, this is not the intent of the legislation, and the Greens of course do not want to see this situation occur. Sexual education forms an important part of the school curriculum and teachers should be able to teach without fear of prosecution. The government amendments provide a


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