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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 1 Hansard (15 February) . . Page.. 265 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

Attorney seeks to utilise is a definition which contains the words "anything capable of being used". An extension of that definition, in effect, renders every single item anybody would care to name potentially or prima facie an offensive weapon, so we create this scenario where anybody carrying anything who falls foul of the police for whatever purpose can be deemed, just on the basis of the definition, without any suggestion of intention, to be in possession of an offensive weapon.

That, it seems to me, is far too extreme a definition. It is a definition which potentially renders everyone, on the basis of a decision by a member of the police, a criminal and subject to a criminal penalty. It is far too broad a discretion. It is unnecessarily broad. There is no need to provide the police with such an extensive power.

There is a perfectly acceptable alternative in the formulation that is used in the definition of offensive weapon that is utilised in the New South Wales Crimes Act. The New South Wales Crimes Act definition, the one that I am seeking to adopt, is that an offensive weapon is:

(a) a dangerous weapon, or

(b) any thing that is made or adapted for offensive purposes, or

(c) any thing that, in the circumstances, is used, intended for use or threatened to be used for offensive purposes, whether or not it is ordinarily used for offensive purposes or is capable of causing harm.

Why would you possibly need a more extensive definition than that? Why do you need to reduce that New South Wales definition and for the government to say, "Let us remove the need for intention; let us remove from this definition of offensive weapon any suggestion that there has to be an intention that the object be used for a criminal purpose; and let us just reduce it to a definition which says 'anything that is capable of being used' without any suggestion that the person in possession of the object need have any intention to use it for any unlawful purpose"?

MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education and Attorney-General) (4.24): A single comprehensive definition of offensive weapon was passed without comment by this Assembly in December 2000 in the context of the stalking amendments. Mr Stanhope indicated then that-

Mr Stanhope: That is not true, Bill.

MR STEFANIAK: I think you will find it is, Mr Stanhope. When you introduced your amendments, you made reference to the stalking legislation. You thought the definition was okay in that context.

Mr Stanhope: I do, in that context.

MR STEFANIAK: What is the difference? It is now proposed to apply that definition to the Crimes Act. Currently, the act contains a number of different definitions, for no apparent reason. This proposal did not come out of thin air. It was circulated for comment to the major stakeholders in the criminal justice system-that is, to the DPP, Legal Aid, the police and the courts. None of those agencies raised any concerns at all about the proposal.

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