Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 3 Hansard (5 March) . . Page.. 577 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

grounds for suspicion, an often cited reasonable suspicion test is whether a reasonable person would fairly suspect the matters in question from all the circumstances.

It is clear that reasonable suspicion is something more than mere suspicion and requires a legitimate basis for the search. Reasonable suspicion is a suspicion based on facts which are objectively seen as sufficient to give rise to an apprehension of a suspected matter. By way of clarification, to say the suspicion is reasonable does not necessarily imply that it is well founded or that the grounds for suspicion must be factually correct. Although suspicion has a lesser standard of conviction than belief, there must still be a real foundation.

For the edification of members, Mr Speaker, the case law from Canada and the United States in relation to the analogous concept of reasonable cause suggests that reasonable suspicion must be something more than mere conjecture. Rather, it must be the suspicion of a reasonable person which is warranted by facts from which inferences can be drawn.

Mr Stefaniak: Great principle of law, Jon.

MR STANHOPE: Yes, and of course that is the test that applies in the extant provision, but we are amplifying that to make it absolutely clear that these amendments will ensure that where actions, threats, or false statements concern self-harm or political activity, no offence will be committed. Therefore, a person who conducts a political protest involving, say, self-harm, will not be committing an offence under the new provision. The amendments are designed to clarify, I hope beyond the doubt or concern of any member, that that is the government's intention. That is how the legislation is drafted and, we believe, will certainly be interpreted.

MR STEFANIAK (4.21): I can see why Mr Stanhope has moved his amendment. I agree with what he said in his letter to the scrutiny of bills committee, specifically at page 3, and I will read the first couple of paragraphs of that page. The letter stated:

It is understood that a concern has been raised that a person engaged in a protest who, for that purpose, commits and act of self harm, might be caught by the offence on the basis that such a person would have:

(a) done something that could endanger human life or health; and

(b) done the act with the intent of causing public alarm or anxiety.

It is certainly possible, though rare, for protestors to make their point by committing serious acts of self harm. However, the Government is not convinced that such an act would, if done as part of a protest, ordinarily, satisfy the requirement that it be done with the intent to cause public alarm or anxiety, particularly in view of the ordinary meaning of those words as noted above. The Government is, therefore, of the view that the provisions, as cast, and taken in their context, would not result in the criminalisation of self-harming protestors.

I must say, Mr Speaker, that I entirely agree with what the Chief Minister has written there. However, the opposition does not see the need to go one step further and put this in legislation. Although I suppose we will not die in a ditch over it, we would oppose this amendment-and, indeed, the subsequent consequential amendments, which I will not speak to again-as it is unnecessary.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .