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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 3 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 608 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

that they believe that amendments to the Bail Act have had some implications for crime rates, particular property crime rates, in the ACT.

I think we all know-and, once again, this evidence is anecdotal-that much of the property crime in the ACT is committed by a small number of recidivist offenders. It is clear that people cannot continue to commit offences if they are remanded in custody. The shadow Attorney did acknowledge that the Labor Party did support the initial amendments, but we thought then that the government, buoyed up and in chest-beating mode, just took the issue a little bit too far, and we did oppose subsequent amendments to the Bail Act.

However, it is simplistic to claim that the Bail Act amendments are the only, or even the major, cause of declining crimes rates. There are a range of other factors involved, and we referred to these the other day. I have made the point before that there is a significant heroin drought affecting the ACT and Australia. I think the heroin drought is probably having an opposite effect to the one anticipated. It was anticipated that the increasing price of heroin would result in more burglaries, insofar as those who were addicted to heroin would commit more crime in order to meet the increased price of heroin. However, that has not happened, as the crime statistics for the 2001 quarter reveal.

There has been a fall in burglary rates, and it could be due to a number of factors apart from the Bail Act amendments. There is one thing we need to keep in mind in relation to any discussion about the burglary rates: for the last year, burglary rates in the ACT were still 13 per cent higher than they were in 1998. There was an enormous peak and we have come off the peak.

It is interesting that it was under Mr Stefaniak's stewardship that the rate actually began to decline. However, while the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Humphries, was Attorney-General, the burglary rate in the ACT led the nation. We had the most enormous peak in property crime here in the ACT during that particular period.

Mr Stefaniak, as Attorney, actually did manage to claw back some of that enormous level of property crime in the ACT, which had led to Canberra being known throughout Australia as the burglary and car theft capital of Australia, as well as the national capital. Certainly, the rate of burglaries was reduced under Mr Stefaniak, and you can take a pat on the back Mr Stefaniak. It is a pity that your leader did not have the same capacity and that, under Mr Humphries, we actually led the nation in burglaries and car thefts. Unfortunately, we still do lead the nation in car theft rates.

You did get the rate of burglaries down, but you did not go that further step, and the rate is still higher than it was back in 1998. When discussing these issues and discussing the effect of the Bail Act amendments, you should acknowledge that, even with the Bail Act amendments, the burglary rate is still higher than it was four years ago, when we did not have those Bail Act provisions.

In any serious discussion of this issue, rather than a grandstanding redneck response, you have to have regard to that fact. You have to have regard to the fact that you need to look at some of the other causes of crime rates. If you are genuinely serious about these issues, you need to be a little bit academic and a little bit rigorous in your approach. You need to think that, if the burglary rate is higher today than it was four years ago, then it

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