Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 2 Hansard (29 February) . . Page.. 517 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

The Minister already has taken those important first steps of dealing with community policing, and I congratulate him for that. Now it is time to go through the appropriate process, and the appropriate process, as I see it, is to start with the Legal Affairs Committee ascertaining whether there is enough in the idea to make it worth while, and, if it is to continue, what it is going to cost. It is no good for us just to say, "Yes, we are going to have unstaffed cameras. They are going to be there and we can go back and have a look at them to see whether we can find enough evidence to pinpoint people". That is tricky anyway. You need particularly good cameras to be able to do that. I presume that Mr Humphries has seen the very fancy system they are using in the casino. People who go there know that they are under observation. That is an entirely different situation. You volunteer to go in there.

I am very reluctant, and always have been very reluctant, to increase this sort of Nineteen Eighty-Four approach. I find it extraordinary that we have reached such a stage. I remember reading Nineteen Eighty-Four and thinking it was a mythical concept - that we could have a situation where you could walk through the streets and somebody could be watching by means of a camera. I think that is something that we have to deal with very carefully. Before we surrender any of our civil liberties we have to keep asking ourselves, "What are the costs and what are the benefits?". There have to be significant benefits before we give away any of our civil liberties. I know that Mr Humphries thinks that way on many issues as well, because there are many issues involving civil liberties that we have discussed where we are of a like mind. On this issue I think we have to take time to make sure that we know that the benefits have a chance of outweighing the costs, because if they do not we ought not start on the idea at all.

MS FOLLETT (Leader of the Opposition) (4.25), in reply: Mr Speaker, I would like to thank all members for their comments in this debate and to assure all members, including Mr Humphries, that I have listened very carefully to what they have said. I think the level of debate that we have had on this issue so far indicates that there is a range of matters which ought to be fully explored before we take the step which Mr Humphries, I know, is anxious to take. I therefore believe that the action that I have proposed is entirely reasonable, and it is only a six-month delay if we do decide, in fact, to go ahead with the surveillance cameras.

I would like to address a couple of issues that Mr Humphries raised, Mr Speaker. First of all, one thing that struck me in Mr Humphries's comments was his drawing attention to the case of Eddie Amsteins and the tragic attack on that young man. Mr Humphries seemed to be arguing that perhaps the severity of that attack, or the crime itself, could have been reduced had there been surveillance cameras. I do not think it is very productive for us to make those kinds of hypothetical assumptions, Mr Speaker. Whilst I absolutely deplore the crime that was committed against Mr Amsteins, I am equally well aware of the case in England, I believe it was, where two teenagers abducted a very small toddler. They removed that tiny child, a little boy, I think, from a shopping centre and murdered him in a savage and foul manner, and the initial abduction was conducted in full view of security cameras. We would all have seen the very chilling footage of those two teenagers leading the small child out of the shopping centre to a ghastly death. In that case the cameras helped with the apprehension and conviction of the murderers, but they did nothing whatsoever to save the life of that child.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .