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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (9 August) . . Page.. 2766 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

against the individual, and argued in the end for a much more constrained approach to appealing acquittals-namely, that they be allowed only when the area in law was "on the whole case a probable explanation of the verdict of the jury".

These are fundamental questions of law. It is remarkable that the government should see fit to pursue its chosen course of action before responding in a coherent way to the questions asked. But up until last night there had been no government response to the scrutiny report. It may be that the government is confident in its numbers. The previous Attorney-General, in a letter to me last year, made the point that he did not need to consider the fairness of ethics of the law he was introducing or the amendments he was supporting, as it was rather a question of numbers. Perhaps we are seeing something similar at play today.

The Greens will be opposing a number of the provisions and amendments in this bill and moving some small amendments in the detail stage.

MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education and Attorney-General) (9.56), in reply: I thank members for their comments, although I do not agree with their criticisms. Comments were made that this bill is very much part of a law and order election campaign. If people oppose sensible amendments to laws this government makes and we are close to an election, of course we will use that in the election. But anyone who looks at my track record in this Assembly knows that I have always been interested in law and order issues. I was a prosecutor for nine years. I spent six years in three firms in New South Wales and the ACT as a private solicitor specialising in criminal law and to a lesser extent family law.

Mr Moore: Move-on Bill.

MR STEFANIAK: That is right. I was called Hang 'em High Bill and all those sorts of things in the first Assembly. Quite frankly, I do not care whether there is an election or not. If I can see areas in the law which need improving, especially areas where I have a reasonable amount of expertise and experience myself, I will push those. I do not care when it is, whether it is election time or three years out from an election. It is understandable that Jon Stanhope and Kerrie Tucker will say that this is all part of an election. It certainly is, because an election is around the corner.

We have a lot of working groups. This was a specific working group set up to see what areas of the criminal law needed improving so that our police and our prosecution service could do their job without unnecessary and unreasonable legislative hindrance. It deliberately did not have a wider representation that other committees would have. We have a Law Reform Committee which does an excellent job.

Mr Stanhope: Which one is that?

MR STEFANIAK: It is chaired by Justice Crispin, I think, and has all sorts of people on it. I have in my office a report which, unfortunately, because of pressure of business, I have not had a chance to read for the last three or four days. According to a quick summary sent to me by the learned justice, it proposes some very significant changes to bail, reversing the presumption for things like murder. That is a very broad committee which took a long time to come to that position. That is an example of one

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