Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 1 Hansard (18 February) . . Page.. 113 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
It is just one of those things in relation to human behaviour and the pursuit of community life and our involvement as individuals in community life. I do not proceed on the basis that people with genuine beliefs, heartfelt beliefs based on religion, will romp into court and say, "This really does create a problem for me,"only to have the power of the state, through the juries legislation, say, "Too bad, you can sit here and serve, feel uncomfortable and deal with it as best you can."I honestly do not believe that we need to proceed in that way. I do not believe that it is a significant issue for us.
There are other issues. Both Ms Tucker and Mr Stefaniak alluded to them. I sometimes think we are a little bit soft and slack in the range of exemptions that we do give for jury duty. There is a significant issue around who it is that, at the end of the day, serves on juries in our society. Some significant criminological studies have been undertaken into who it is that, at the end of the day, does serve on juries within most of the Western or common law countries.
The findings have been interesting and, to some extent, disturbing. There are even some socioeconomic conclusions that can be drawn or deductions made in terms of the range of people. They do not need exemptions to achieve it, but you do not find many professionals ever serving on juries. You do not find many people who work in banks or the professions-in a whole range of what might be termed upwardly mobile or white collar professions or pursuits-serving on juries. There is an issue, one that we might pursue through further study, about who it is at the end of the day, without the need to rely on exemption, manages nevertheless to get out of jury duty or jury service.
Ms Tucker used an expression along the line of fulfilling our duties as members of the community in ways such as jury service. I tend to think that there is probably a bigger issue around the range of people who manage to get out of jury service, not on the basis of a formal exemption, but in some other way. That is probably the issue that we need to pursue in relation to jury service, rather than nitpicking around somebody with a genuine religious belief who presents and says that jury service really does offend them morally in some way, only to have the system come down and crush them. I do not think that it is a big issue. I think that it is something that we, as a community, should have no hesitation in acceding to. I thank members for their contribution to the debate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill agreed to in principle.
Detail stageClause 1 agreed to.
MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for the Environment) (4.16): I table a supplementary explanatory memorandum to the government amendments to this bill and move amendment No 1 circulated in my name [see schedule 1 at page 123].