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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (9 August) . . Page.. 2770 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

At present, the police must obtain an order from a magistrate before taking such material. The current procedure is that, in order to take this identifying material, the police need an order from a magistrate. No evidence has been presented by the government that this procedures presents a hardship to the police. Such an order can be obtained over the telephone. That is what we are doing here. At the moment, the police must obtain an order from a magistrate. The police are able to obtain that order by phone. Yet the Attorney thinks we need to undo that, we need to undo the making of a single phone call. Where is the justification for that? How does that affect the balance? What balance are we adjusting here that we are doing away with a phone call from the police to a magistrate?

The Attorney has made the point that the police claim that much crime is committed by young men in this age group and that they are repeat offenders. Even if there is evidence to support this assertion-all we have before us is an assertion; no evidence has been presented-that is no reason to strip adolescents of their rights; it is no reason to expose 16 or 17-year-olds in this way. We have debated often in this place the fact that people in this age group are the least empowered within our community, apart perhaps from indigenous people.

The Assembly chose, against some opposition, to ensure that we had a special magistrate appointed to rule over the Children's Court so that there would be some consistency of approach in dealing with children and young offenders. It was hoped that in time the special magistrate would be able to make recommendations about the best way of approaching juvenile offenders. I wonder whether the Attorney approached the Children's Court Magistrate. I have to say that I have been very impressed with much of what Magistrate Madden has been doing and saying in the Children's Court.

Did the government consult the Children's Court Magistrate before moving ahead with this proposal? If not, why not? Why didn't you consult a single youth advocacy service? Why didn't you consult your Children's Court Magistrate? Why didn't you ask Magistrate Madden what he thought about this amendment and whether it would enhance or impact upon the work that he has been doing extraordinarily well? I have to say that Magistrate Madden, in the work that he has done for young people, has really cut across some of the criticisms and the condemnation that were targeted very much at the proposal that we have a specialist Children's Court Magistrate. By way of digression, I need to acknowledge Mr Osborne's determination to see the Children's Court Magistrate proposal proceed. I think that those of us who supported that in this place have been well justified in our support.

It may be the case that the Children's Court Magistrate would have informed the Attorney that the superior courts in various jurisdictions have said that the purpose of granting the police permission to take identifying material from any person is to identify the person to the court. In this case, in the absence of any evidence that unidentified young people are being kept in custody and placed before the court without names, we must assume that the police want the power for some other purpose. Could it be that they want to run the fingerprints against old crime scene records to clear up some of the very many unsolved offences on the books?

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