Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 13 Hansard (26 November) . . Page.. 4722 ..
MS DUNDAS (continuing):
the budget about where our money is going and who it is in this community who is in most need of our support.
I thank members for their contributions to the debate. I hope it does inform the work of Treasury, which the Treasurer has already indicated is under way. I don't see why this is such a big burden. It is about just specifying that we want to look specifically at low-income earners and concession schemes for low-income earners. I hope that the work is timely and that it does provide a good basis for further debate in this Assembly.
Amendment agreed to.
Motion, as amended, agreed to.
Sentencing Reform Amendment Bill 2003Debate resumed from 2 April 2003, on motion by Mr Stefaniak:
That this bill be agreed to in principle.
MS DUNDAS (6.11): Mr Speaker, I would like to begin this debate by saying that I was pleased to receive a letter from Mr Stefaniak, last week I think, that indicated that he will be removing his support for clause 45 of this bill which had the consequence of victims of incest being able to be charged with the crime of incest. The crime of incest, I thought, was quite disturbing. The effect of the amendment would have been that people who are coerced into sexual intercourse with family members would also be guilty of incest. The easiest way to explain it is that if a 14-year-old boy had sex with his 12-year-old stepsister they would both be guilty of incest and the power role would have no bearing on the crime. I thought that this showed little understanding of incest, which is normally entirely based on power roles. As such, the current law reflects this knowledge.
I was quite concerned when I was going through this piece of legislation and saw that it also included this amendment. It indicated to me that what we had was a piece of legislation before us that was more interested in upping the penalties for crime than looking at what the crime was and what it means. I will repeat that I am grateful that Mr Stefaniak has withdrawn his support for that particular part of this legislation, because I was quite concerned to see it there.
Even though Mr Stefaniak has done that, it does not change my opposition to the bill as a whole. I see it as nothing more than scaremongering and a cynical attempt at setting up the Liberal opposition as being tough on crime. I think Mr Stefaniak seems to believe that harsher sentences will appease community fears and deter people from committing crimes.
While we have seen some sensationalist media reports in relation to crime, I hardly think that following the papers, as Mr Stefaniak says he has since he was Attorney-General, provides empirical evidence one way or the other as to the reality of sentencing in the ACT. It is not the media's job to report on the sentence of every person convicted of a crime in the territory. So it is hardly reasonable that Mr Stefaniak would use reading the newspaper as evidence that sentences need to be harsher. If Mr Stefaniak has concrete proof that sentencing in the ACT is substantially lighter than in New South