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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 5 Hansard (1 May) . . Page.. 1284 ..

MR RUGENDYKE (continuing):

As Mr Moore points out, the downside might be increased pressure on the remand centre, but that is a consequence we will have to live with. We will have to move speedily to a resolution of the prison and remand centre project to alleviate the problems so that we can keep our people in the ACT and not have to send them interstate.

I support the use of facilities such as the court cells and the Periodic Detention Centre for remandees where necessary, if that is appropriate. I have not visited the Periodic Detention Centre, but that may well be a useful facility for remandees.

Mr Moore: It requires significant modification.

MR RUGENDYKE: I am told that it requires significant modification, so it may not be appropriate. We need to do all we can to protect the community from the growing problem of recidivist offenders. I also believe that we need to be serious about people sentenced to jail who have been able to walk out of the court before their sentence comes into force. The granting of bail for sentenced offenders is, in my view, a weird idea. That ought to be changed.

Mr Speaker, I fully support these amendments to the Bail Act. My only disappointment is that Mr Stefaniak tabled these amendments instead of me. I would have been happy to do it myself.

MS TUCKER (11.54): The Greens will not be supporting this piece of legislation. We are very concerned about the trespass on rights that Mr Moore spoke to. We have a different answer to the question that was posed by the scrutiny of bills committee.

We understand that the importance of bail in our system is that it recognises the gap in certainty between someone who is charged with an offence and when a decision is reached based on a thorough examination of the evidence against and for them in a court of law. It is part of the way we protect our citizens from being arbitrarily deprived of their liberty.

This is based on a couple of principles fundamental to our system of democracy and rule by law. They are the presumption of innocence until proven guilty and the right to liberty unless by process of law. They are not only Australian principles. They are principles articulated in the internationally agreed instrument the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Australia is a signatory to this covenant, which is one of the fundamental human rights treaties passed by the UN Council in 1966 and is legally binding. Australia ratified it in 1980 with a number of reservations which do not limit our nation's commitment to this matter. The relevant article is 9.3, which states:

Anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release. It shall not be the general rule that persons awaiting trial shall be detained in custody, but release may be subject to guarantees to appear for trial, at any other stage of the judicial proceedings, and, should occasion arise, for execution of the judgement.

In our legal system this right to liberty, based on a presumption of innocence, is weighed up in each case against the safety of the community and alleged victims and the need to ensure that a thorough trial can go ahead; that neither evidence nor the accused go

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