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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 3902 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

Having listened to Mr Kaine, Mr Osborne and Mr Smyth, I am now waiting to see when one of those members or someone from the Liberal Party - perhaps Mrs Carnell, who supports it - will propose exactly this sort of mandatory minimum sentencing on another issue. Take property crime. In the Northern Territory an Aboriginal person was locked up because he took a towel off a line. It was three strikes and you're out. That was decided. The judiciary had no power to deal with that issue. The social consequences of putting an indigenous person in gaol are of considerable interest to many people in the Australian community.

A precedent has been set here today. I agree with Jon Stanhope that it is absolutely dangerous. I am very nervous about what it will mean to the rest of this Assembly. I hope that in the next Assembly we have people in this place who will not support such a very serious imposition on our system of government.

MR HARGREAVES (7.59): I think I have made my views on mandatory sentencing and the separation powers pretty clear, and I will not go over them again. On behalf of the Opposition, I express appreciation to the departmental officials who have put together this package. As I said earlier today, the national transport and road reform agenda has been a particularly difficult one, one which I know has been tackled with gusto by departmental officers. I single out David Handley and his people for all of the work that they have done. I think they have done a sterling job. That we had to focus on part of the legislation was unfortunate, as far as I am concerned.

I would also like to express the appreciation of the Opposition to John Leahy, the Parliamentary Counsel. He had a very difficult job taking an outdated Motor Traffic Act and turning it into a road transport Act. Those two gentlemen were particularly effective and did a great job. The briefings they gave me and my office and my colleagues were superlative. I wish to have those thoughts recorded.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (8.00): Mr Speaker, I am quite pleased you called Mr Hargreaves, because I had a made a note following Mr Kaine's speech that no-one had questioned the motives behind what we are trying to achieve here. We are trying to protect lives and to reduce the trauma and so forth of motor accidents. I think all members agree with that. Mr Hargreaves said that he agrees with the vast majority of the legislation that has gone through. That needs to be put on the record. We have to recognise the hard work that has gone into this over many years, not just in the ACT but right across Australia, to get us to this point tonight. The intergovernmental work is always so difficult. I am very pleased that Mr Hargreaves has put that on the record. I would like to reiterate it.

I also emphasise the danger in what we have done tonight with this form of sentencing. I think it is worth remembering that often the very worst decisions are made with very high motives. I think that is the difficulty here. It highlights for us the problem we have. Mr Kaine says he does not want people to be free to do what they like - free to do this and that. None of us do. Nor do we believe that the legislation would allow that to happen.

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