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

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (7 August) . . Page.. 2497 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

Although this bill is, as pointed out by those opposite, a further infringement of civil liberties, I am supporting it because, unfortunately, I feel that it is necessary. It is not going to the extent that a magistrate will not still have the final say. He or she will do so, which I think is the most important factor.

MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education and Attorney-General) (4.34), in reply: I think that a few people have lost track of exactly what we are talking about, which might not be surprising as it probably happened this morning as well on another bill. The Bail Amendment Bill 2001 created a presumption against bail for people who allegedly commit a serious offence whilst on bail for another serious offence. The presumption was introduced in acknowledgment of the fact that it is appropriate for alleged reoffenders, particularly when serious offences are involved, to be required to prove exceptional or special circumstances before being granted bail.

While the current presumption, which has been in force for a couple of months, applies where a person is alleged to have committed a serious offence whilst on bail for another serious offence, not all people in the ACT alleged to have committed a serious offence are, in fact, on bail. Instead, an offender may be summonsed to appear at court or may enter into a voluntary agreement to attend court, a VATAC. Also, if a person is arrested and brought before a court, the court may dispense with the requirement for bail. In addition, if a person fails to appear at court in accordance with a bail undertaking, he or she then ceases to be on bail. That point was made by the Chief Justice in a case not long after the first amendment of 2001 to the Bail Act came into force.

Accordingly, this bill amends the presumption to include people who allegedly commit a serious offence while they have a charge for a serious offence pending or outstanding. A pending charge is defined as including a person who has been issued with a summons or entered into a voluntary agreement to attend court in relation to a serious offence, and a person arrested for the offence but not yet charged, unless the person is later released without charge. An outstanding charge covers people who have been charged with a serious offence where the charges have not been finally determined.

The bill introducing the current presumption against bail was passed by everyone except Ms Tucker, an overwhelming majority. This bill simply improves the operation of the presumption by removing the unnecessary distinction between alleged offenders on bail and those who have had proceedings instituted against them by way of a VATAC or a summons or who otherwise are not on bail. The amended presumption would apply in relation to a decision to grant bail on or after commencement, even if a relevant offence is alleged to have been committed prior to that time. That strikes an appropriate balance between the rights of the defendant and the right of the broader community to be protected from crime. Mr Moore seems to have appreciated that, although I do not agree with some of his comments in relation to shooting galleries or whatever. Mr Speaker, it is fascinating that members are so interested that Mr Kaine is the only member in the chamber; nevertheless, I will continue.

Mr Kaine: I am finding this fascinating.

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