Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4266 ..
Mr Stanhope: We treat them all the same, Gary, they all have access. They are equal.
MR HUMPHRIES: But they do not use it, do they? That is the point. In the present system in the ACT, if you are injured or otherwise affected adversely by a criminal act, your recourse is, essentially, in terms of government run services at least, access to cash. You go and you ask for money to somehow compensate you for injuries suffered. We want to expand the availability of services to people who are victims of crime by providing a system that is free, accessible by any victim of crime, without having to prove that they have been a victim of crime in some court-related way. This provides every person who has been a victim in that sense with counselling and rehabilitation in a way that will be immediately accessible. It does not involve the use of lawyers or having to make claims for cash payments. That is a worthwhile reform. That is a broadening of accessibility to services for victims of crime. It is simply nonsense to suggest we are winding back access by victims to suitable services. On the contrary.
Mr Stanhope: Rubbish.
MR HUMPHRIES: On the contrary. Our victims assistance scheme will expand the availability of services to those victims. It will provide them with a service to which they have no access at present. Isn't it amazing? Those opposite are in this place defending the right of lawyers to seek cash payments in the courts in a scheme that on any reasonable view is being rorted to a very large degree by those who use it - a scheme which even their colleagues in New South Wales are calling now to be reformed, and their average payments are $3,000 lower than they are in the ACT.
Mr Stanhope: And a certain class of rorters can stay in.
MR HUMPHRIES: When average payments are $10,000, Labor in New South Wales are concerned about what is going on.
Ms Tucker: Why are you supporting only sexual assault?
MR HUMPHRIES: When they reach $13,300, we find that Labor in the ACT is not quite so concerned. Mr Speaker, everybody who has observed this scheme with some degree of objectivity, realises it needs fundamental reform. We cannot have a scheme that perpetuates the idea that a small minority of victims can be showered with relatively large sums of money while the vast majority - 98 per cent or so of victims - receive nothing under the present scheme. This attempts to reverse, to redress, that imbalance, and I believe it is worth supporting.
MR QUINLAN (2.30 am): I think Mr Humphries in that little dissertation was trying to change the subject of the inequity inherent in the amendment put forward. He said nothing about that fundamental inequity. I would rather expect, and hope, that Mr Humphries might vote on the compromise he has apparently made with a couple of members here. But please do not insult this place, the members of this place or future victims who will get less if they are not in the upper class, by trying to justify it. Just vote on the compromise you have made. This is, as far as I can recall, in terms of just principle, the lowest point in the two years I have been here.