Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 November 2021) . . Page.. 3279 ..
bill is based on a mischaracterisation of the operation and purpose of the current bail system, which does not provide for the automatic granting of bail to people charged with assault of a frontline community service provider.
Secondly, a broad spectrum of behaviour can be captured by the term “assault” and the range of sentencing options available to the court for offending of this type. Thirdly, the reform would be inconsistent with the existing bail framework and type of offending to which the presumption for bail does not apply. Fourthly, there is no evidence that indicates that those charged with assault of a frontline community service provider have a greater risk of reoffending or failing to appear in court such to justify the removal of the presumption for bail.
Fifthly, there is the impact on the right to liberty, which would severely impact on and harm people before they are even convicted. Sixthly, there is the potential for miscarriages of justice, including by incentivising early guilty pleas, to avoid being remanded in custody. And, finally, there is a likelihood of exacerbating disadvantage for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and other vulnerable groups, such as those with mental health issues, who are most likely to come into contact with frontline community service providers.
In summary, the bill is unlikely to achieve its goals of promoting safety and is likely to cause significant harm to the welfare of individuals, to erode the integrity of the justice system and to marginalise some of the most vulnerable community members in this city. The government will not be supporting this bill today.
MR HANSON (Murrumbidgee) (4.38), in reply: I table a revised explanatory memorandum. I am somewhat surprised that the Minister for Police and Emergency Services is not in the chamber. The people under his charge—the police and emergency services first responders—are most affected by this. That he has chosen not to speak to this or even be in the chamber I find a little disappointing. I am sure those members would be disappointed, as well, that he is not here standing up for them. I wonder whether it indicates that there is a slightly different position at play here between the two ministers, or whether he just does not seem to care. Certainly, the feedback that I get from members of the emergency services and police is that the latter may be the case. I will start my words with those of the most affected by the government’s decision today to not support this bill. I will quote the Australian Federal Police Association’s statement, titled “ACT Attorney-General lets down first responders”.
The Australian Federal Police Association (AFPA) is disappointed with the ACT Government’s response, particularly that from Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury, to a bill tabled to change the presumption for bail for people who assault first responders.
AFPA President Alex Caruana expressed frustration, saying that Australian Federal Police and ACT Policing members would be disappointed and angry with the decision of the ACT Attorney-General.
“It’s clear that the Attorney-General values the rights of recidivist and dangerous offenders over community safety and those hard-working first responders who protect and administer health outcomes in the ACT.