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

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 11 Hansard (22 October) . . Page.. 3967 ..

MR PRATT (5.58): Mr Speaker, I rise to support Mr Stefaniak's proposed legislation. What is particularly grasping here for me is that the ACT Law Reform Commission has put together a viable piece of legislation. I find it peculiar that they are being ignored. Their proposal clearly means that there will be a presumption against bail for serious crimes, particularly murder, crimes involving a weapon, armed robbery, nasty assaults and serious drug offences. These crimes would seem to me to be absolutely the right sorts of crimes for which people should be denied bail and I cannot fathom what is the problem in this place this afternoon.

Mr Speaker, I am concerned that the current bail laws, which provide a revolving door for people to go into and out of courts, remand centres and police stations, place a great burden on the police. I am mystified as to how the Chief Minister can talk about Mr Stefaniak's proposed legislation being tougher on police and increasing the burden on police, which is what he just said. Surely the opposite is true. If people who are known to be repeat offenders or are known to intimidate other people are wandering in and being bailed out whilst under investigation or on charge, there is a problem for the police.

The other point is that when the police see people being bailed simply for the sake of bailing it affects their morale. It affects their attitude to the way that society is dealing with crime. It affects the way that police look upon the courts. That all adds to the burden that police carry in terms of their morale and their ability to do their job effectively. If repeat offenders know that they are going to be bailed because we have a climate in the ACT where bail is automatic, they will not be too frightened to offend again. I would think that this would mean that we have a climate in which we do not have a deterrence factor.

This afternoon, I have heard people talk about civil liberties, which is fine as civil liberties underpin our democracy, but I have begun to think that civil liberties predominate in the minds of those opposite and perhaps even the crossbenchers when it comes to how the community seriously faces up to its responsibilities to head off crime. If those people are more concerned about the civil liberties of alleged offenders than about the victims of serious crime, they should go and talk to victims of serious crime who have to face up to repeat offenders who are granted bail and then go back out into the community and intimidate their victims or intimidate people who witnessed their crime. Where is the compassion for the victim? We are having plenty of compassion being expressed here for repeat offenders and alleged offenders, but where is the compassion from those opposite to the victims?

Mr Speaker, it is the view of the opposition that, by rejecting Mr Stefaniak's legislation, the government is going soft on crime. Again I ask: why are people in this place ignoring the ACT Law Reform Commission, which has, in a rather solid and professional form, put down a watertight and very fair system which underpins this proposed legislation? People here need to be held accountable as to why they are not taking note of such professional and respected advice.

Mr Speaker, I support Mr Stefaniak's legislation and I hope for the sake of the community's safety that this place will support that legislation.

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