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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 12 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 3726 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

Another important issue which has emerged since the committee issued its report is the recent conviction of a young man for defrauding the criminal injuries compensation scheme. The committee had proceeded on the basis that criminal injuries compensation fraud was not "a live issue" in the ACT. As the facts of the fraud case demonstrate, however, abuse of the system can occur quite easily but is very difficult to detect. In that case, a young man cut his arm severely while breaking into a high school with a friend. To conceal their criminal activity from parents and the police the two youths invented a story that the cut was sustained during an attack on them by Asian youths. The injured youth and his friend told the fabricated story to ambulance officers and the police.

The injured youth's mother mentioned the injury and the alleged attack to a solicitor when she consulted her in relation to another matter. The solicitor suggested that the youth make an application for criminal injuries compensation. The youth was unaware before this advice from the solicitor of the possibility of making an application for compensation. The solicitor and the mother were unaware that the youth was lying about the attack. The application appeared to be straightforward and disclosed no reason for not accepting the youth's version of events. The court awarded the youth $18,000.

The youth's accomplice later revealed the true story when he was being questioned by police in relation to other offences. The police charged the injured youth with vandalism and with defrauding the Territory. He pleaded guilty to the vandalism and fraud charges, and told the court that he had used the money to buy a car and to drink and smoke cannabis to his heart's content.

Mr Hargreaves: I bet he was content.

MR HUMPHRIES: Yes, I bet he was. Mr Speaker, this Bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety in December 1998. The committee released a majority report of its inquiry into the Bill on 29 June 1999. The government member of the committee, Mr Hird, issued a dissenting report. The majority report contained 24 recommendations.

In brief, the Government supports recommendations 7, 8, 9, 10(ii), 14, 18, 20, 22 and 24. The Government supports the objectives underlying recommendations 2, 3, 5, 15, 16 and 23, but considers further implementation is unnecessary because they involve actions which have already occurred, recommendation 2; the proposed legislation already achieves the recommended approach, recommendations 3, 15, 16 and 23; and the implementation of the recommendation can be achieved within existing arrangements, recommendation 5.

The Government supports recommendations 1, 10(i) and 13 in part, but considers that they would require some modifications if they were to be implemented. The Government does not support recommendations 1, 4, 6, 11, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19 and 21 on the following bases: Firstly, they are not budget neutral and would significantly add to the cost of the criminal injuries compensation scheme in the ACT. I repeat that they would significantly add to the cost of the scheme. My comments about them not being budget neutral apply to recommendations 1, 4, 6, 11, 12 and 18. Secondly, they reduce equity, efficiency or accountability in the operation of the scheme, particularly recommendations 4, 10(i), 13

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