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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 3 Hansard (5 March) . . Page.. 584 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

to provide guidance to the meaning of 'public alarm or anxiety' in the context of their product contamination offences'. The Committee does not challenge this point ...

The Committee notes that the Government is prepared to amend the proposed provisions in the way indicated.

The report goes on:

The committee accepts the Government view that proposed new section 140A will cover situations where an act does actually endanger human life or health. The Committee's comments at point 1 above apply in this respect.

In relation to the point which has been pressed by both the shadow attorney and the Leader of the Opposition, I refer them to that comment of the scrutiny of bills committee. And "point 1 above", of course, goes to the committee misunderstanding what it was that the government was intending to do.

I think Ms Tucker made a very clear and succinct statement of exactly the situation we are in. I support entirely what Ms Tucker and Ms Dundas said. But it is quite clear to me that the example the Leader of the Opposition proffered of somebody marching into a kindergarten class, supposedly as some legitimate act of political protest, and threatening to blow their brains out, would not be covered, would be exempt from this particular provision, and there would be no offence caused. I do not see that that particular example is at all relevant.

MS TUCKER (4.46): I just want to clarify a couple of points. I have read the scrutiny report, Mr Stanhope. I do not seem to have made my point clear. After listening to what Mr Humphries had to say, I said I would not support this legislation if this amendment did not get up. Basically, this is going to confuse how this discussion could be interpreted. Mr Stanhope, the Chief Minister, gave a response to the Standing Committee on Legal Affairs, in its capacity as a scrutiny of bills committee, and the question was raised whether the offence could cover acts of self-harm. The response stated:

It is understood that a concern has been raised that a person engaged in a protest who, for that purpose, commits an 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.

However, the Government is prepared to amend the proposed provisions ....

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