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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 1 Hansard (15 February) . . Page.. 266 ..

Mr Stanhope: Shame on them!

MR STEFANIAK: Shame on the courts, Mr Stanhope? They are the ones who administer it.

Mr Stanhope: Absolutely. Shame on them.

MR STEFANIAK: Shame on the courts? I do not think our judges and magistrates would particularly like that.

Mr Stanhope: Legal Aid did not raise any objection?

MR STEFANIAK: No, they did not say anything. The definition is clearly linked to intent or ability to cause injury or incapacitate a person. It is broad enough to include everyday articles such as hammers, kitchen knives, cricket bats, baseball bats, pickaxe handles-

Mr Stanhope: Combs, handbags, pens.

MR STEFANIAK: Yes, even maybe an umbrella, depending on how you use it. Its operation will be confined appropriately by the individual offence provisions which use it. Mr Stanhope is concerned that a person, according to him, could be charged with possessing an everyday article such as an umbrella. It is not an offence under the Crimes Act to possess an offensive weapon per se. You have to have additional grounds to be satisfied before an offence is proven.

I will give a couple of examples. For example, section 493, which deals with possession of an offensive weapon, requires the possession to be in a public place and in circumstances likely to cause alarm. A person could not be charged with carrying an umbrella or anything like that in normal circumstances under this section.

Section 494, "Possession of an offensive weapon with intent", requires the circumstances to include intent to commit a violent offence with the weapon. If such intent is proven, articles such as umbrellas should rightly be considered as offensive weapons.

Section 27 has an offence of using against another person an offensive weapon likely to endanger human life or cause a person grievous bodily harm. That restricts the definition in the context of this particular offence.

Police, prosecution and the courts will use their commonsense. It will be the courts that will decide whether a weapon or an article that is used is in fact an offensive weapon or not. The courts have absolutely no problem with this effectively consolidated definition we are now seeking to have continued throughout the act.

It should also be noted that the current definition in section 494, which refers to anything capable of being used, has created absolutely no problems that we know of in the past. I hope Mr Stanhope is not going to suggest that our courts are nothing other than scrupulous in ensuring that fair play occurs and that the defence is given every right it is entitled to under the law to the protection of the law and to the full measure of the law. In

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