Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 980 ..
MR RUGENDYKE (continuing):
Under current laws, police have no powers to intervene. They have to stand by and wait for a substantive offence to occur. It makes sense for police to be able to apply crime prevention powers in this situation, simply ask the crowd to move on, and remove the crowd mentality which fuels emotion and confrontation in these situations. Ask yourself, Mr Speaker: Is it more sensible to avert trouble brewing or to wait until there is an act of violence; to wait until people are hurt and put in hospital, and charges are laid? I know which is the better option and I know that my experience of the police force is such that, if granted these powers, they would be utilised appropriately. I believe this Bill can provide a welcome addition to increasing community safety in the ACT.
MR BERRY (10.59): Mr Speaker, I opposed the introduction of move-on powers when the issue was first raised in this Assembly, and I thought, once they were seen off, that we would never have to face the situation again, because I thought that more sensible people would be elected to this Assembly as time passed and the urge that some people had to empower the police more would be allowed to pass as an anachronism, as something out of the past, by people who were knowledgeable about law enforcement and who would have a commitment to treating the difficulties, rather than simplistic tub-thumping right-wing proposals which lead nowhere.
Mr Speaker, I have a great deal of respect for the job of policing. It is a role which is filled by people who are generally committed to law enforcement and who face particular difficulties. I understand why some amongst the police would be attracted to these sorts of powers, because they see it superficially as making their job easier. But it is not always the case that just making the policeman's job easier is the proper course. You have to have due regard to the civil liberties of the citizens. After all, the police are there to serve the citizens, not their own particular interests.
I am extremely disappointed that people who might be regarded by the community as intelligent would resort to this sort of tub-thumping right-wing nonsense when it comes to the issue of law reform. I am disgusted at the rationalisation by some Liberal Party members of the performance of these laws in the past. Fancy saying that the fact that the laws enabled police to move on 2,600 people is a sure sign of their success! What a joke! That demonstrates your inability to come to grips with the issues of law enforcement. If it was so important and it was so successful, how have we possibly survived with 2,600 people out there who ought to have been moved on and who are still wandering the streets, threatening violence to or intimidation of a person or damage to property? What a joke you lot are! Fancy saying that the fact that police moved on 2,600 people is a demonstration of the success of these laws! All it demonstrates is that there are lots of people out there who never protested to the courts.
Mr Speaker, I know of a couple of cases that did not succeed in the courts and I have heard of others where charges were not brought to the courts because of the misuse of these powers. They have been misused in the past. Nobody can sit there and honestly tell me that, among the 2,600 that were moved on, the police powers were not misused and that bullying tactics were not used in the course thereof. These powers have not improved the situation in the ACT at all. I am disappointed that Mr Rugendyke climbs to his feet and says that police are unable to deal with violence to a person or intimidation of a person without move-on powers. I am extremely disappointed that he should say that,