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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4243 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

dollars had been collected. Whilst a lot of the defendants - indeed, probably the majority - are without means and the public purse is being called upon, there are certainly some who would be able to pay it. In my time at court, which, I admit, stopped in 1995, there would have been occasions when money would have been recouped.

There are factors which are very important to victims other than simply saying to them, "The system has let you down. Here is a wad of money". There have been inconsistencies, too, in terms of how that wad of money has been divvied up. I think that the package that has been put forward here addresses that and will be of great assistance in helping victims to get over the trauma of what has occurred to them as a result of criminal activity.

MR BERRY (1.02 am): Mr Speaker, the part of this debate that I have found most disturbing is that there has been a fairly comprehensive attack on the victims of violent crime in the past. We have heard about criminal injuries compensation being paid to a woman who was traumatised by finding a doormat burning on the front step. Put simplistically, that might sound uninteresting. On the other hand, I understand that this case involved a fairly lengthy harassment of this woman. Basically, she was being monstered. I do not know about you, Mr Speaker, but if I was dragged out of bed in the middle of the night to find my doormat alight, I think I would take that as a death threat. I think that it demonstrates that somebody is seriously upset and wants to do you harm. I think I would worry about that, even if I had not been monstered for weeks or months before.

That is one example I have heard of the victims being blamed for the payouts under the criminal injuries compensation scheme. If they had not made a claim, I suppose there would be no payout and there would be nobody to blame. Other examples I have heard of involve young men - again, the target of the people opposite in legislation which has been before this place on other occasions - on licensed premises who might be inebriated. The suggestion seemed to be that they should not be involved in the criminal injuries compensation scheme if they were in a place where people could drink alcohol.

What if they were in a place where people could drink alcohol, but they were stone cold sober and got beaten up? You have a right to wake up in the morning in a decent condition, whether you have been drinking or not. Is it okay for people who have consumed too much alcohol to become targets for thugs to bash up? Should they not be entitled to criminal injuries compensation because they have been on the sauce? That is an extremely upsetting approach to take, but it is typical of this Minister's approach to these sorts of issues: Pick out a few victims and give them a bit of a box around the ears to demonstrate a need for change. These people are in the minority and it is always easy to go after people in the minority.

There has been some debate about how the criminal injuries compensation scheme has applied to police and others. I seem to recall this Minister also being quite critical of the criminal injuries compensation that bank tellers could receive in the event of a bank hold-up. I do not know about others, but if somebody pointed a weapon of some sort across the counter at me, I would feel a bit upset about it. I cannot see any reason why bank tellers should be treated harshly by the Government because they have an entitlement to criminal injuries compensation.

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