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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 2 Hansard (19 May) . . Page.. 321 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

that claims by young people about what they had done and claims by the reporters about what was happening were simply lies. We see lots of programs like that and we see lots of newspaper reports like that, and there develops in the community a perception about crime that is not always matched by the figures. Certainly, we are all concerned about crime. Certainly, it is on the increase in certain areas, and we have to attend to it; but let us not do it on the basis of perceptions.

Of course, we would argue that judges are highly objective people and they would not make any judgments based on mere perceptions. We might argue that, but we know in fact that judges are as human and as fallible as we are. They do not have any greater talents than other citizens. They have a greater knowledge of the law, sure. So let us not let sentences face the possibility - I use the word "possibility" - of being coloured by perceptions or prejudices about what we think might be happening. Mr Stanhope said that the judges do not have any special access to or special expertise on crime statistics. They are as available to them as they are to me or to the Minister. The judges need to make their decisions based on what they hear in that court, and that is a very important principle.

It has been said that Mr Osborne will support the Government's proposal. Mr Osborne, in presenting his first report as chair of the committee that looks at the scrutiny of Bills, has brought down a report that sounds a warning or raises an issue. It does not make a totally clear statement. Mr Stanhope said he was not quite sure about what it meant. The report has certainly flagged a basic principle that we need to attend to. It is Mr Osborne's report and he brought it in here. Ms Tucker has expressed her concerns about it and wants to explore it further, and I know of one other member who at least will be encouraged to write to Mr Osborne and seek further elaboration of what that committee report was about. On that basis, while I would prefer an outright rejection of these amendments, we should at least defer our consideration until we hear what Mr Osborne's report meant, and until we get some greater explanation of what it is about. When the motion for adjournment comes before this Assembly, I would hope that we support it. When eventually the vote is put, I would hope that we reject the amendments.

MR BERRY (12.32): Mr Speaker, I move:

That the debate be adjourned.

MR SPEAKER: To a later hour this day, Mr Berry?

MR BERRY: No, just that the debate be adjourned, Mr Speaker. I seek leave to make a short statement in order to explain my position. It might be helpful for members at least.

Leave granted.

MR BERRY: We heard Ms Tucker put an argument for deferral of debate on this matter in order to look at the scrutiny of Bills report. That has been mentioned and I do not need to go into the detail of that. It has also been mentioned that we may wish to raise with the expert adviser to the scrutiny of Bills committee some of the detail which

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