Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 22 June 2021) . . Page.. 1897 ..
Lastly, the bill introduces a concept of reasonable belief. Our current legislation provides that an accused person is guilty of an offence if they know another person does not consent to a sexual act or is reckless as to consent. These are subjective standards. This bill will introduce the principle that any belief an accused person may hold that another person’s consent must be reasonable under all the circumstances, according to an objective standard. In cases where an accused person does nothing to ascertain another person’s consent, they will not be able to rely on a defence of genuinely, by mistakenly, having believed the other person consented. Ultimately, these changes are about cultural and behavioural change. They create clarity for a common-sense approach to respectful relationships.
Sexual assault is a notoriously under-reported and under-convicted crime. National statistics suggest a three per cent conviction rate. This is incredibly low for a crime that has lifelong impacts on survivors. For years there have been calls for reform in how we address sexual assault in our community. This draft legislation released yesterday goes a long way in strengthening and simplifying consent in the law. Ultimately, it is intended that we will see an increase in perpetrators brought to justice. I welcome comments on the exposure draft until close of business on Friday, 16 July. Comments can be made via my website, email or phone. I intend to table the bill in the Assembly in the coming months.
Mr Neil Hermes—tribute
MR HANSON (Murrumbidgee) (4.42): In rising tonight, I must say I am a bit disappointed to farewell my good friend Neil Hermes from the Assembly. He has been my senior adviser on and off since 2013. Many of you would know him. He joined me in 2013, back when I was the leader. He was my senior adviser for health and a number of other portfolios.
When you lose the leadership you go from about eight staff down to two. Sadly, Neil did not make the life raft of survivors; he was floundering around in the ocean. Luckily, he was picked up by my old mate Steve Doszpot, who gave him a job. That did not end well either, sadly. He then worked with Nicole Lawder. So he has spent a lot of time working for members of the Liberal Party here. He then had a bit of a sojourn at the 2020 election, with the Belco Party, I believe. I am not sure what happened there. “Shame!” I hear members say. Realising the error of his ways, he came back to the Liberal Party earlier this year and rejoined me.
He has been a fantastic person to work with. I know all of you would realise that the people that work in your office are not just people that work with you; they become your friends, your allies, your mentors—a whole bunch of things. No job was too big or too little for Neil.
I remember once during estimates hearings the then health minister, Simon Corbell, said that they were not going to build the Canberra Hospital as planned. I ran upstairs to Neil and said, “Mate, we are building a hospital.” Neil looked at me and bolted all that together. When you are in opposition, coming up with a comprehensive plan to build a hospital is not an easy thing, and Neil did it. Equally, he would do any little