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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2000 Week 8 Hansard (31 August) . . Page.. 2812 ..


Debate resumed from 28 May 1998, on motion by Mr Humphries:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (8.37): Mr Speaker, the Attorney-General introduced this bill on 28 May 1998 in the wake of the dismissal of assault charges against a then prominent Canberra footballer. It will be recalled that the court acquitted on the basis that he was too intoxicated to have formed an intent to commit the offence. Although there was some criticism of the prosecution's response to the defence argument, the decision was consistent with the High Court precedent.

This bill inserts a new part into the Crimes Act 1900 to provide that evidence of self-induced intoxication cannot be considered in determining whether an act or omission that is an element of an offence was intended or voluntary. In other words, it removes what was colloquially known as the drunk's defence.

The Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety, in report No 10, closely examined the bill and the surrounding issues. The committee also examined the common law and the approaches taken in other jurisdictions. It reported that, in summary, it found no evidence of superior alternatives to the government's bill. It concluded that this bill is an appropriate and effective response to the availability of the drunk's defence in the ACT. The committee recommended that the Assembly support the bill and that the government monitor its operation and report back to the Assembly in three years time.

The proposed amendment is intended to give effect to model legislation agreed to by attorneys in 1995. However, even though each state except Victoria has some legislation, there has not been a common approach across all Australian jurisdictions. Some have followed the UK model of amending the law in relation to specific intent, and others make no distinction between specific intent and basic intent. This has led to the committee's view that there is no superior alternative to the government's bill which ensures that people who choose to become intoxicated will be held accountable for their actions. It tells potentially self-induced intoxicated defenders that criminal acts committed in that state will not be tolerated. It gives recognition to the rights of victims of crime committed by intoxicated individuals, and protects the community from intoxicated individuals.

MR SPEAKER: Order! There is far too much audible conversation in the chamber. Mr Stanhope has the call.


: Thank you, Mr Speaker. On the basis of those four particular points identified by the committee and their conclusion that there was no superior alternative to the government's bill, the Labor Party is pleased to support this legislation. We accept that the community has a right to be protected from loutish drunken behaviour. Individuals have a right not only to be protected from the criminal actions of people who are intoxicated. If they are subjected to that sort of behaviour they have a right to know that the offender or the perpetrator will not simply walk away and attempt to wash their

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