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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4239 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

Criminal injuries compensation schemes are a relatively recent invention which some commentators regard as primarily an attempt to mollify victims rights activists alienated by the treatment of victims in the criminal justice system.

The scheme is not mollifying people. That is to suggest that the people receiving some sort of assistance, some reparation, some expression of apology, some assistance in rebuilding their lives, perhaps do not deserve it and perhaps should not be applying for it. That is something that I reject out of hand. The response also says:

The Government's two submissions to the Committee's inquiry reported that the efficacy of such schemes to address victims concerns in any meaningful way has been challenged both by victimologists and victims themselves.

Not to the committee I sat on. The Government's representative, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker - as you would know, because you sat there impressively during the whole thing - did try to say that sort of thing. But, generally speaking, the people who gave evidence to the committee did not challenge the efficacy of the system. They said there were bits that could be tinkered with and fixed up. They said that if there was a problem with the money you could look at ways of fixing that but, generally speaking, they endorsed a lump sum payment for closure, something rejected by the Government's submission. They endorsed opposition to retrospectivity and they endorsed the exhaustion of an application for workers compensation before people proceeded to the next step.

I cannot allow it to be said that our approach is an attack on the opportunity for members of the AFP, bank tellers and people like that to apply for compensation under this scheme. That is not the case. What we are saying here is that a workers compensation claim should be exhausted and that when that is exhausted and there is insufficient reparation then this scheme will apply. It already does. In one case a significant amount, something like $15,000 or $18,000, was awarded to an AFP officer, but not all of the claim was paid by the CIC. There was also an amount under consideration by Comcare for the back injury the policeman sustained on the job. The two schemes should be working in tandem. Workers compensation should apply. Where it does not apply, victims of crime assistance should. In that way I would like to think we could protect members of our work force who are particularly vulnerable.

One of the things we tried to find out in the committee was how much perpetrators contributed to the victims. For example, if $5,000 has been awarded to a victim, how much have we claimed from the perpetrator? I know there is a problem in collecting that sort of money because often the types of people who will bash other people up do not have that kind of money. A reasonable attempt would be a fair go, would it not? You could say, "Let us have a go. Maybe he has a television we can knock off and sell - anything".

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