Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 3398 ..
MR HARGREAVES (continuing):
however, not to the extent that this Bill proposes. Furthermore, I feel that this Bill will impress safer attitudes on the roads, but just because it is law does not mean that people will not test it. However, Mr Speaker, the real test lies with the Government. How do they intend to enforce this legislation when our police do not have the resources? As much as the community wish that police could be present at every crime that takes place, realistically it is not possible.
Mr Quinlan: They are at some.
MR HARGREAVES: Mr Quinlan, my colleague, says they are at some. Selectively perhaps? Therefore, the community should realise that this Bill needs to be enforced by the police.
Mr Speaker, Labor feels that the penalties for an offender are too severe. The penalties should be made appropriate for the crime. It is not appropriate for a second offender to have their vehicle forfeited back to the Territory. This is on top of having their licence suspended for 12 months and paying a penalty. It is not really appropriate, Mr Speaker, that the second time you have committed an offence under these provisions that you have your vehicle confiscated. The question must be asked: What right does the Government have to confiscate a person's vehicle? This takes me back to the days when I was at school when you used to have your belongings confiscated at school by your teacher. It just represents schoolyard bully tactics.
This type of legislation opens the door for a wide range of possible penalties for other offences. For instance, Mr Speaker, if a person is continually found in contravention of the Environment Act because their fireplace emits an excessive amount of smoke, does this mean the Government will confiscate their home and sell it? Or, Mr Speaker, if your child is caught for the second time breaking a window at a shop, does this mean the Government will take the child away? Some might say, "Hopefully".
Mr Quinlan: Just his rocks.
MR HARGREAVES: I take it you are going to support this Bill when it comes to the vote. This may sound silly, Mr Speaker, but it could happen, and this Bill today is only the beginning.
Seriously, this Bill represents an infringement of people's civil liberties. Under this Bill perpetrators are offered no protection and have no rights. The fact that a person can be arrested on police suspicion raises alarming problems. We are not talking about a hanging offence here, Mr Speaker, when the police suspect that murder may have taken place, when there may have been mass rape or maybe a break and enter at a significant jeweller's shop; we are talking about people putting skid marks on a road. To be arrested on the suspicion that you may have put those skid marks on the road is a little bit rough. Mr Speaker, this type of law apparently was implemented in England over 20 years ago, and, not surprisingly, it was not successful. Subsequently the law was repealed.