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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 3 Hansard (5 March) . . Page.. 545 ..

MR WOOD: I am not aware that anyone wanted to postpone it.

MR SMYTH (10.36): While discussions go on, on the other side, as to the progress of this bill, I might reiterate the opposition's position, which Mr Stefaniak put so well previously, that we have no objections to this bill. As you would be aware, both the Labor Party and the Liberal Party put forward similar bills in the lead-up to the election.

It is the government's bill that is now coming forward, and we have agreed to it. We believe that people should not be conducting hoaxes of this nature. It is detrimental to the community, it scares people, and I think it tears at those things we do hold sacred. At the same time, it puts to a great deal of expense, time and effort those members of our emergency services-the police, the fire brigade and the ambulance-who really should be spending their time doing better things.

The intent of the bill is to increase the penalties and, as Mr Stefaniak has already so well outlined on behalf of the Liberal Party and the opposition, we will be supporting this bill.

Debate (on motion by Ms Tucker ) adjourned to a later hour.

Criminal Code Amendment Bill 2002

Debate resumed from 19 February 2002, on motion by Mr Stanhope:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR STEFANIAK (10.38): This is national legislation and with good reason. It is actually going to be reasonably slow to implement. The previous government introduced some legislation last year in relation to this. This was meant to commence on 10 March 2002, but I think events were beyond the control of everyone here. That date must be put back to 1 January 2002.

It is important, I think, that we do get this right, to make sure that the relevant principles are incorporated, and to make sure that there is consistency across jurisdictions. I thank the Attorney for the briefing from his departmental officers, which refreshed my memory about where we were up to last year. They have been most helpful on this and several other bills, and I want to place that on record.

The delay is to enable the remaining principles of criminal responsibility to be incorporated into the code. It is also to redraft many existing offences into user friendly English. At present, the criminal code contains only some principles of criminal responsibility, and it cannot operate until the remaining principles have been included. When this occurs, in the subsequent bill, I will certainly look at those very carefully to ensure that everything is being done correctly.

This is a procedural bill that the government is putting in place. It is part of a continuing process that we commenced, as the previous government, and certainly, as the opposition, we are very happy to support this bill. Because this will produce an Australia-wide criminal code, I hope that we will all be winners. It is going to take some time. I do not know how many of us will be around to see the national criminal code come to fruition. However, I think it is eminently sensible.

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