Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 968 ..
MR HUMPHRIES: In 1991 you supported the legislation, Mr Moore, and the legislation actually went through on your vote, on the basis that there was no problem with the legislation. In 1993 the legislation actually lapsed because the Assembly did not consider the renewal until after the legislation had actually lapsed. Mr Speaker, it is my recollection - and I am open to correction here - that there were no complaints about the legislation between 1991 and 1993. The only complaints about the legislation occurred before 1991. Mr Moore shakes his head. I am happy to hear what he has to say in the debate.
Mr Speaker, the bar being set for this legislation in previous Assemblies was a very high one. If someone complained about it, it was not allowed to be renewed. I think that was far too high, far too demanding, a standard. This legislation was effective. As I said, in over 2,500 cases people peacefully moved on, and a situation on the streets of Canberra which police officers of this Territory perceived to be a situation where violence might occur were those people not moved on was avoided. That constitutes, in my book, a good basis on which to enact such laws in the Territory.
Mr Speaker, let me close by saying that I do not propose to support this legislation tonight in an entirely open-ended way. The fact remains that any officer of the Territory - in this case, technically, of the Commonwealth - who, on behalf of the community, exercises important powers on the streets of this city must do so in a highly accountable way. The exercising of these powers is, of course, capable of being monitored by the courts and, indeed, by other bodies, such as the Ombudsman. I have no doubt that it will be monitored in that way.
I repeat the undertaking I gave on earlier occasions in debating the equivalent legislation, which is that if there is evidence of a problem with the exercising of these powers, if it is clear that there is a systemic or systematic abuse of the powers by police officers - and I note in passing that it was the custom of the police between 1989 and 1993 to have the power exercised only under the supervision of sergeants or officers of above sergeant rank - I will be the first to come back to this place and say that we should repeal the legislation. However, I think that the police of the city have shown already - between 1989 and 1993 - that they are capable of exercising those powers on the vast majority of occasions, if not on all occasions, responsibly, judiciously and in order to avoid the incidence of crime. They, therefore, deserve to have those powers once again.
MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (10.16): Not so, Mr Speaker; not so. In fact, I did support the move-on powers originally and, as Mr Humphries points out, they went through. My recollection is the same as his, that is, that they finally went through on my vote, because I was prepared to try them. So, what happened in the intervening period to change my mind? I gave the same assurance as Mr Humphries has just given. I am sure that Mr Berry remembers it well. So, what changed my mind? That is why it is that I am very sure that there were a number of cases. I specifically remember one. It is inappropriate to name the person here, I think, but I could name a member who refused to move on and was arrested, went to court and was found by the court to have acted appropriately; in other words, the power was misused. It was not a judgment by me that the power was misused. It was the judgment in the particular case that I am thinking of - and I understand that it was in another case - that the power was misused.