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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2019 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 20 March 2019) . . Page.. 792 ..


MR RAMSAY (Ginninderra—Attorney-General, Minister for the Arts and Cultural Events, Minister for Building Quality Improvement, Minister for Business and Regulatory Services and Minister for Seniors and Veterans) (10.03): This government is unequivocally and firmly committed to keeping Canberrans safe. Violence has no place in our city, and this government has been diligent and determined in pursuing new laws and new resources for our police to ensure that all Canberrans feel safe and are safe.

Today’s debate between the Canberra Liberals and the government is not one fundamentally about goals. We agree that keeping Canberrans safe is vital. But, unlike the opposition, we cannot pretend to make promises about safety and then not worry about their connection with reality. In government we make decisions about how to prevent crime based on evidence. On examination of the evidence, it is clear that the bill before the Assembly will not contribute anything to making Canberrans safer. We will never adopt ineffective legislation just for the sake of a headline.

This government’s promise to Canberra is that we will support our police and criminal justice system in ways that are practical and proven to prevent crime and keep our community safe. That is why we will continue to work with police, with prosecutors and with our courts to ensure that they have the tools they need to uncover and prosecute organised crime.

The bill before us today was introduced off the back of years of scaremongering by the Canberra Liberals. They have done their best to politicise responses to organised crime by making promises about safety. But those promises simply do not stack up on an examination of the evidence.

In introducing this bill, Mr Hanson made the claim that Canberra is a haven for bikies. His evidence for this claim is a list of media headlines which he continually and mistakenly referred to as “facts”. He and the Canberra Liberals have repeatedly seized on those headlines to call for legislation that will not do anything to prevent the incidents that they are talking about.

Promising safety is not the same as delivering safety, and scaremongering will not deliver safety. Unfortunately facts do not seem to worry the opposition when it comes to this topic. We cannot just quote headlines or, even worse, aim to make headlines to effectively stop crime. We have to look at the evidence available. I will provide examples from experts on crime and voices from our community.

Associate Professor Mark Lauchs from the Queensland University of Technology described these laws as not a solution to street violence “because it still happens in jurisdictions where anti-consorting laws already exist”. Former senior police officer and Bond University criminologist Dr Terry Goldsworthy said that anti-consorting had become “political window dressing”. And that is what the Canberra Liberals are offering today: ineffective political point-scoring. It is gutter politics at its worst, and it offers no real solutions to tackle organised crime.

These expert opinions are borne out in ACT statistics. ACT outlaw bikie gang membership numbers have remained relatively stable in recent years. In recent years


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