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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (9 August) . . Page.. 2803 ..

MS TUCKER (12.54 am): The Greens are also concerned about this. The argument used to justify the change from "belief" to "suspect" is that if the police unreasonably suspect you of something you will win in court. In the meantime, you can have your car broken into, you can have your house broken into and you can be arrested, all without a warrant.

I appreciate that to form a reasonable suspicion it must be based on more than conjecture; it must be warranted by facts from which inferences can be drawn. In other words, it has to be based on something. All the recent argument in Sydney has been about ethnically based gangs and the consequent increased level of suspicion faced by some young men-Aboriginal, Middle Eastern and South East Asian. The stories that those of us in Canberra who take an interest in understanding what it is like for different groups in our community, particularly marginalised groups, hear demonstrate the problem of resorting to suspicion. I think it is of grave concern that we would move in this direction. I think members of this Assembly should not be supporting it.

MR KAINE (12.55 am): I draw people's attention to the explanatory memorandum that came with this bill. If they had read that, they might have understood better what the Attorney-General was trying to do. I do not say that I agree with it, but it does explain. It says:

This clause replaces the reasonable belief test with a reasonable suspicion test.

Police may often encounter a suspect shortly after an offence has occurred, without having had the opportunity to conduct thorough investigations. While they may be unable to form a reasonable belief, police may be able to form a reasonable suspicion that a particular person committed the crime ...

So there is an explanation, although it is not clear or obvious to me, after having read that, why we need to accept this change in standards. But it is interesting that there is an attempt to explain it. I am not certain that some people have read that. Having read it, I am still not convinced.

MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education and Attorney-General) (12.56 am): It is an important standard. It is an important change to the act, and the government makes no bones about doing it. I am somewhat appalled to hear Mr Stanhope go on. He does not have any faith in the police or the DPP. The committee was set up to see what needed to be changed. It was not something that I suggested, Mr Stanhope. It was suggested to government.

Police in New South Wales and Queensland may arrest on reasonable suspicion. Allowing arrest on reasonable suspicion reflects the realities of community policing. Police often encounter a suspect shortly after an offence has occurred, and they may be able to form a reasonable suspicion that that person committed the crime.

For example, in relation to a burglary, a person may fit the description given by a witness. They may be in the near vicinity and they may indeed be known to police, for example, as a repeat offender. That is not enough at present. It is all right in Queanbeyan and it is all right in other parts of New South Wales, but it is not all right here. Here the police cannot do anything.

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