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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 2 Hansard (20 May) . . Page.. 359 ..

Wednesday, 20 May 1998


MR SPEAKER (Mr Cornwell) took the chair at 10.30 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.


MR RUGENDYKE (10.31): I present the Crimes (Amendment) Bill (No. 3) 1998, together with its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by Clerk.


That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

I am pleased to present to the Assembly the Crimes (Amendment) Bill (No. 3) 1998. With incidents of stabbings and assaults involving knives being prevalent in our community, I thought it necessary to develop this amendment to the Crimes Act. I have done so with two main thoughts in mind. Firstly, I asked for commonsense, workable legislation to enable police to effectively perform their duty to protect members of the community from the current trend of knife assaults. Secondly, the civil liberties of offenders must be catered for and reflected in the practical application of this amendment. This legislation is based upon the knife legislation recently introduced in New South Wales by the Carr Labor Government. However, my proposal does not go as far as making parents accountable for their children carrying such offensive weapons. I have excluded this draconian provision from the Bill I put to you today.

This Bill creates the offence of possessing a knife in a public place or school without reasonable excuse. It also describes occasions which constitute reasonable excuses. Those excuses include the lawful pursuit of a person's occupation; the preparation or consumption of food; lawful entertainment, recreation or sport; the exhibition of knives for retail or trade purposes; exhibitions by knife collectors; being part of a uniform; and religious purposes. In short, if a person carries a carving knife into a schoolyard they will need a leg of lamb to go with it. The Bill also excludes self-defence as a reasonable excuse for carrying a knife.

Another important aspect of this Bill is that it intends to make it illegal to sell a knife to a person under the age of 16. One just needs to walk past a knife shop and see what types of knives are on display and can be purchased by any child. Some of these knives have no place whatsoever in our community. For example, a throwing knife can be used for only one purpose, and that is to throw at someone or something.

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