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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 4071 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

I am also still interested in referring to the Legal Affairs Committee the issue of how we can protect our active civil society and other human rights while we are dealing with the law and order push and anti-terrorism responses.

MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for Women) (11.14), in reply: Mr Speaker, as I indicated in my presentation speech, this bill is the second stage in what is certainly a mammoth project to progressively reform the whole of the criminal law of the ACT. By enacting the code, the criminal law of the ACT will be more accessible and much easier to understand because the general principles of criminal responsibility will be conveniently located in one document and explained in plain English.

There are also other advantages for the ACT. The police, the courts and the profession are already familiar with chapter 2 of the code because of their work in relation to Commonwealth offences. It will be less confusing for ACT law enforcement and the legal profession once all the principles of criminal responsibility are fully implemented, because then the same laws will apply whether an ACT or Commonwealth offence is involved. I acknowledge the comments which Mr Stefaniak made in relation to representation he has received from the bar in that context. But we are engaged in this process and along the way there will be some discomfort perhaps for the profession as they become familiar with the code.

The bill is also an important step in achieving uniformity in the criminal law across Australia. Uniformity is gradually becoming a reality, with all jurisdictions in the country having enacted various parts of the model criminal code since it was first proposed in 1992. It is pleasing, and I think it is a matter of pride, that the ACT has taken a leading role in this effort and has already passed the model provisions on sexual servitude, bushfires, food contamination and female genital mutilation.

The bill also enacts new chapter 4, which will modernise the ACT's computer, sabotage and property damage offences. It is important for the ACT to have an effective range of offences in place and I think in the context of these uncertain times it is important that we have laws that will deal effectively with sabotage and related activities. Chapter 4 will give us the capacity to deal effectively with sabotage. I am aware of an amendment that has been circulated by Ms Tucker in relation to sabotage. I don't support it, I think it is unnecessary and, indeed, counter-productive but I will be happy to deal with that matter at the appropriate time.

In order to bring the in-principle stage debate to a conclusion, I simply wish to do no more than thank all members of the Assembly for foreshadowing their support today for the passage of the criminal code legislation. It is pleasing that each member of the Assembly and the Liberals, through their spokesperson, Mr Stefaniak, have indicated that they will be supporting the bill today and I thank them all for that support.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

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