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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (9 August) . . Page.. 2768 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

I am pleased that all groups have had an opportunity to comment on this bill. It has been on the table for some two months. I mentioned the provisions about cheques. There are many provisions in this legislation which bring us into line with practice in other states. It is rather ridiculous that we have different tests, often harder tests which make it harder for our law enforcement agents, from those that apply in other states. I do think that is fair. I do not think that is what the community want.

The victims of crime are not often the rich. The rich can insulate themselves to an extent. It is the workers, the poor and the underprivileged who are the victims of crime. They are the ones who will benefit from law enforcement authorities having better power to do their job properly. They are the ones who will suffer less crime. We have seen decreases in some serious offences as a result of a huge concerted effort by police and, let us not forget, some back-up in legislative changes. That will benefit some of the more underprivileged members of our society.

The people affected by move-on powers are invariably young people. I am not going to say much more about that until we come to it. They are the ones who benefit. I do not think either Mr Stanhope or Ms Tucker were around when those powers were introduced in 1989. They are probably unaware of a Canberra Times survey then which is very edifying. You two are completely out of kilter with what the vast majority of Canberra citizens want. Sure, they do not want their police riding roughshod. That is why the internal affairs divisions are scrupulous in ensuring that police do the right thing. That is why we have a good ombudsman service. That is why police have such restrictions on them. If they appear in front a disciplinary tribunal, they have to answer questions. They are forced to. They do not have the normal rights of other citizens. They are crucially important checks and balances. Police who are in a position of some power can be held totally responsible. In Canberra that has certainly been the case. I think that all members will agree that we are probably being well served by our police force.

Mr Hargreaves said yesterday in the debate on the motion by Mr Hird:

Even a dyslectic reader would be able to figure out that I only ever congratulate the police if they are doing something well, and I belt the government if they are not allowing the police to do a good enough job. That will be the tenor of what I have to say today.

Mr Hargreaves is not here. Maybe as a result of what his leader has said, he might have to belt him for not allowing the police to do a good job and for opposing some of the things the Labor Party will be opposing here today.

Mr Speaker, this is about balance. It is about fairness to society. We have checks and balances in our system, and that is right. But I think it is time we took stock and worked out what we can do to ensure that we are consistent with a lot of the rest of the country on these important issues and gave our law enforcement agencies the ability to do the job we want them to do properly, without unnecessary and unreasonable restrictions. That is exactly what this legislation does.

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