Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 3 Hansard (5 March) . . Page.. 572 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
government to capitalise in some way on the horrific events that occurred in the United States and which had an impact here in so many ways, including this outbreak of hoaxes.
Ms Dundas makes the point-and it is a fair point-that none of the perpetrators were actually identified and that no action has been taken against any of the perpetrators for the hoaxes that occurred here in the ACT. But the difficulty of detection is not really relevant to the question of the appropriateness of the penalty. They are separate issues.
But, whilst ever we have a difficulty in detecting the perpetrators in circumstances such as these, it seems to me that there is benefit in sending the signal: "Look, you may be having fun, you may think this is a smart thing to do, you may have a whole range of reasons for the behaviour you are engaging in, and I accept those, but there is now an increase in penalty for that."
Ms Tucker alluded to some of the reasons people do things. I know that we humans are incredibly complex, doing things for reasons that sometimes take some fathoming and about which we should be understanding, but there is also the need for us to develop appropriate deterrents in relation to them. The increase in these penalties-a signal from this parliament, this government, this community that it is not appropriate behaviour-is quite a reasonable thing for us to do.
I have circulated some amendments. The government amendments all share the same purpose: to make it clear beyond argument that the offences are only committed where the actions, threats or false statements involve harm to another person. I want to make that absolutely clear. It was the government's intention. The government's position on this is that that is what the legislation did, but concerns have been raised and I am content to put those issues to bed completely. I have circulated amendments to do that.
The amendments will ensure that, where the actions, threats or false statements only concern self-harm, no offence will have been committed. This was a concern to both Ms Tucker and Ms Dundas. I am happy to respond to that concern, although I do not believe the concern is real. But I am more than happy to respond to it, being the reasonable person that I am.
Therefore, a person who conducts a political protest involving potential self-harm-for example, refusing to eat or drink-will not have committed an offence under the new provisions.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill agreed to in principle.
Clause 1 agreed to.
MR STEFANIAK (4.01): Mr Speaker, I move amendment No 1 circulated in my name in relation to the commencement date [see schedule 1 at page 591].