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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (8 December) . . Page.. 3306 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

There is a general point I always want to make in these sorts of debates. I want to remind members that domestic violence is a broad societal problem and it can be traced to other pressures such as poverty, unemployment, lack of family support services, substance abuse, and addictive behaviour such as gambling. I would always want to see a more holistic approach coming from government to these sorts of issues and a much greater emphasis on resourcing of the preventative measures. It is interesting that in the last week we have had a major report come out from the Federal Government. I believe there is $8m in a package to fund preventative responses to societal issues. In this case, with the Federal Government's money, they are looking at youth crime, delinquency and so on.

All these things are related. Obviously, if a young person is brought up in a family where there is violence they would only be unhappy, and there is more likely to be issues in their lives that cause them to act out in different ways. This is all very well researched and it is not new to anybody here.

What is always necessary to point out, I believe, is that we do not see from governments anywhere in Australia, or probably in many other countries, a long-term approach to these sorts of issues. It is always the three-year electoral cycle. It is always said that we cannot afford to do that because it is just too much money to get into prevention and intervention. Then we end up having to deal with crisis management at the end and the law and order responses which we so often see from conservative government which cost huge amounts of money anyway in the long run, not to mention the human tragedy and social fragmentation which comes with not focusing on prevention and intervention. I will conclude with those points.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (10.25), in reply: Mr Speaker, I thank members for their support for this Bill. It is a very important Bill. I have to express some surprise, quite frankly, at the reticence about some aspects of this legislation. Following my study of the provisions which have been put forward here and of consideration of documents like the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other sources of supposed problem with this legislation, I have to say I am left completely bewildered as to what really is the problem with this sort of approach.

I can see that there is a question of balance here between the rights of a person who is being restrained or detained for the purposes of serving an order and, on the other hand, the rights of a person who alleges some form of domestic violence or some form of violence which needs to be addressed by way of a protection order. In those circumstances it is always a very difficult matter to balance those two considerations. But, having accepted that we need to go to the stage on occasions of giving a person access to a protection order on the basis of an application when they say, "Look, I fear for my safety or that of my children or my family or my property or whatever, and I believe I need to get protection", it makes absolutely no sense to make that protection available only during times when the court happens to be open.

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