Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 970 ..
MR MOORE (continuing):
Mr Speaker, this is entirely inappropriate legislation. It is simply about law and order and tub-thumping. It was part of an election ploy and we ought now to sit back in the cool and calm of the Assembly and say to ourselves, "Is it really worth pursuing this?". My sensible colleagues next to me should rethink their position and say, "This is a matter that is worth crossing the floor on".
MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education) (10.23): Mr Speaker, I can answer a few of the questions that Mr Moore and Mr Berry raised in relation to this issue simply by going through Hansard. I go back to page 2771 of Hansard of 14 August 1991. Might I say, to start with, that when the power was continued for another two years as a result of an amendment moved by Mr Collaery, which we accepted, I made a rather prophetic statement when I said:
That means, I think, that the power will remain for another two years. Whether or not I am in the next Assembly -
and I was not -
does not really matter; but, if I am not, I hope that in two years' time the power can be extended indefinitely.
It was not after 1993; it was allowed to lapse. I am delighted to see that Mr Osborne has brought back this commonsense power. The people of Canberra have consistently supported move-on powers for police, Mr Speaker. When the issue was first raised by my Liberal colleagues and me in the First Assembly, in August 1991, the Canberra Times conducted a survey. It showed a number of interesting things. Seventy per cent of the population surveyed - and it was a survey of about 630 people - supported this commonsense power. Interestingly enough, 58 per cent of young people - those aged under 25 - supported this power, and about 85 per cent of people over 55 supported it.
A number of surveys were done in 1991, including a sizeable survey of some 434 people which showed 85 per cent of the population surveyed then supported it, including, interestingly enough, 85 per cent of people under 25. Little wonder, Mr Speaker, because young people are often victims of aggressive, antisocial and violent activities. They are often harassed by louts around bus interchanges. They are often harassed when they go about their lawful business in enjoying themselves around places like Civic and other centres in Canberra. They are very often victims. Old people, especially those dependent on public transport - people who cannot necessarily drive around in cars - are often victims. They often feel intimidated. These are the people who are protected by these powers.
Mr Speaker, the whole idea of having these powers is to nip potential trouble in the bud and enable problems to be avoided or broken up. I think the facts speak for themselves. On page 2770 of Hansard of 14 August 1991 I referred to surveys that had been done. When the powers were introduced a provision of them was that for the first two years they would be regularly reported on. As at 14 August 1991, 2,060 people had been moved on, there had been 19 arrests and there had been only one complaint. In terms of an offence for which people go to court, that is a very impressive statistic. It speaks volumes for the very fair way that the Australian Federal Police exercised this power.