Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 1 Hansard (15 February) . . Page.. 283 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

In deciding whether the carrying out of the forensic procedure without consent is justified in all the circumstances, the police officer must balance the public interest in obtaining evidence tending to confirm or disprove that the suspect committed the offence concerned against the public interest in upholding the physical integrity of the suspect.

So, basically, there is a public interest test to be applied. Subsection (3) actually indicates what the police officer needs to take into account, and this is where the real protection lies. It says this:

In balancing those interests, the police officer must have regard to the following matters.

(a) the seriousness of the circumstances surrounding the commission of the offence and the gravity of the offence.

That is very important. It relates back to subsection 29 (3). The subsection continues:

(b) the degree of the suspect's alleged participation in the commission of the offence;

(c) the age, physical and mental health and cultural background of the suspect, to the extent that they are known to the police officer;

(d) whether there is a less intrusive but reasonably practicable way of obtaining evidence tending to confirm or disprove that the suspect committed the offence;

(e) if the suspect gives any reasons for refusing to consent-the reasons;

(f) any other matter considered relevant to balancing those interests.

There are some very significant protections there, Mr Speaker. Whilst I can understand Mr Stanhope's point, I do have some serious problems with the scenario he paints. When he paints a scenario that someone such as a schoolgirl out selling raffle tickets for the Girl Guides and contravening the Lotteries Act could be tested against her will, I think he is being totally extreme by talking about how she could be physically restrained and, on the order of a policeman, be subjected to a variety of procedures such as an internal mouth swab. I do not think he serves his cause well with examples like that.

I recall some other ridiculous examples given some 10 years ago by the Labor Party about cake stalls when we were debating move on powers. I really think the Labor Party, Mr Stanhope and everyone else in it, need to change their attitude in relation to things like that. Indicating that something like taking a swab from some little Girl Guide selling raffle tickets in contravention of the Lotteries Act could actually happen is just degrading our police force. If you are going to try to use an example to back up what you are saying, for goodness sake come up with something that is logical and do not make stupid comments like that that degrade our very fine police force who, from my experience of them, going back decades, exercise discretions exceptionally well.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .