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

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (15 June) . . Page.. 1883 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

The scrutiny of bills committee made a detailed and quite lengthy analysis of this provision and expressed its concern that provisions such as this are very unusual and that this is an extremely rare exception to the understanding that powers of this sort will be invested only in police officers. I do not remember explicitly the discussion that took place within the scrutiny of bills committee, but I think it would be worthwhile if every member of the Assembly reflected on the extent to which a seemingly simple provision such as this invests in a security officer, who is not a police officer, a power to make these sorts of demands of citizens. It is an incredible departure from accepted practice and understanding, at least in Australia and in other common law countries, that this sort of power is restricted very much to members of the police forces. These are not appropriate powers to invest in security officers or other people within the community. These are powers that have, for very good reason, traditionally been restricted to police officers.

My amendment seeks to ensure that at least a security officer should have reasonable grounds before even bothering to approach a person. It is simply not good enough to provide in legislation that a person whose behaviour is perhaps unusual in the eye of a security officer should then be subjected to treatment that amounts to an invasion of their right to privacy. We invest these rights in police officers and we do that for good reasons. There are very good reasons for not spreading these sorts of powers more widely.

My amendment proposes that if a security officer believes on reasonable grounds that a person entering or on court premises is behaving unlawfully-there have to be reasonable grounds for believing there is unlawful behaviour-is behaving in a disorderly or menacing way or is a threat to court security in those circumstances, then it is quite reasonable that the security officer should be able to ask for the person's name and the person's reason for entering or being on the premises. We think this should be the extent of the security officer's powers.

The amendment seeks to include a couple of supplementary provisions. It provides that a person must not, without reasonable excuse, fail to answer a reasonable request of a security officer in circumstances where that person is quite obviously acting unlawfully or in a disorderly or menacing way.

MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education and Attorney-General) (4.22): Mr Rugendyke will probably support Mr Stanhope's amendment. I have no difficulty with what Mr Stanhope said. The government certainly has read what the scrutiny of bills committee said in criticising clause 8. Indeed, both the scrutiny of bills committee and ACT Legal Aid criticised clause 8 as being invasive of privacy and they said it could be omitted without unduly comprising the security of the courts.

I think it should be noted that if there are grounds for believing that persons on court premises have committed an offence, the police will be able to use the power under section 349V of the Crimes Act 1900 to ask that person to provide a name and address and to do certain other things.

I hear what Mr Stanhope is saying. I think he made some valid comments about police officers. Certainly they should have certain powers and responsibilities which other officials should not have. There is some strength in that argument.

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