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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (9 August) . . Page.. 2780 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

I am not surprised that this government thinks that it is ridiculous to do that as it does not have great enthusiasm for informing its decisions with information, but I would like to see information gathered from the police on who is being affected, how often the powers are being used and so on. It is perfectly reasonable in some circles to inform public policy, but not in the circles of the majority of members of this place, obviously. I recall that in the original debate that we had here Michael Moore spoke very eloquently against move-on powers. He said that they can be and have been abused. He spoke about move-on powers being the first step to a police state. He put the view that contestability is fundamental to our notion of democracy, but that powers such as these are not contestable.

When the ACT first trialled move-on powers, the police were required to report on their use of the powers, as Mr Stefaniak said. However, since the reintroduction of the powers, they have not. We do not know now how often the police have exercised these powers. We do not know whom precisely they have affected. We do not know if it is more likely that Aboriginal kids, for example, or boys in beanies have been moved on more frequently than others. We have no idea how these powers are exercised, how important they have been in averting violence, and what the social implications are in the long term of having these groups of people consistently being given the very clear impression that they are not welcome on the streets of our city, even though they are citizens of our city.

We get so concerned when there is antisocial behaviour in our city, we do not like having graffiti and we do not like people writing on a wall that they do not like the police, but we might like to look at the implications of this kind of action. We have absolutely no idea how often this new and extra right to direct people away from each other would have defused what instead would have become a violent incident. We only know that the police think that the powers would be useful, and that is not good enough.

I will now speak to the amendments that, no doubt, I will need to put. The amendments I have circulated require the recording and reporting of the use of move-on powers. If the police and the department are not going to build into the processes a requirement to assess carefully the impacts, intended and otherwise, of the powers we give the police, the Assembly should introduce such requirements into the legislation. Giving powers to the police should not become a one-way street. After all, we trust that a more positive and peaceful society, which one day we may reach, will not need to rely on such force or power to the same extent. We must always keep open that desirable option of moving away from coercion. It is crucial, then, to keep a weather eye on what we are doing in the area of law enforcement and the effectiveness of the powers and regimes that we establish. We cannot evaluate our effectiveness if we keep no records of our actions.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health, Housing and Community Services) (10.53): Mr Speaker, one of the interesting things about spending over 12 years in an Assembly such as this one-

Mr Berry: Oh, yes!

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