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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 13 Hansard (26 November) . . Page.. 4755 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

Unfortunately, the laws at present in relation to people who assault police are far from satisfactory. Hence I have lifted those three laws again from New South Wales. In terms of at least punishing and sentencing people for crime, they are far ahead of what currently exists in this Territory. Sadly, it will probably remain so as a result of this very ignorant, short-sighted and, might I say, wrong decision most of you are taking tonight.

Think about the community! Do not think about your own blind, silly, left-wing ideology-whatever it is-that is driving you here. It is misguided. I think a lot of you could probably benefit from tagging about with the DPP for three or four weeks and then sit through the court for about four or five weeks and just see what happens. You might change your minds.

At the end of the day I think this is a tragedy for the ACT. Mr Stanhope, you are not even window dressing here. There are a couple of reasonable things here but you are not addressing the root cause, which is this: if the courts are not reflecting community values, if they are going off on their own tangents on many occasion-not always-but on many occasions-

Mr Stanhope: A point of order, Mr Speaker! These really are very serious reflections on the Supreme Court and on the Magistrates Court. I do believe that these are repetitive and continuing reflections on our courts and I do not think we can allow that continuous reflection. These are repetitive reflections on the quality of our courts and on our judges and our magistrates.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Stanhope, that really is the point of the debate. The standing orders do not give me the power to strike anything like that out, as long as members are not reflecting on individual members of the judiciary.

MR STEFANIAK: Thank you, Mr Speaker, I am reflecting on the system and I am saying that this legislation actually will assist our courts. The most I will say about individuals is that everyone has their own personality, just as we are all individuals too. But there are some systemic problems. There are problems in terms of how our justice system and the courts-I suppose for serious crime we are talking Supreme Court-look at these things.

We can give guidance here just like Bob Carr and the Labor Party in New South Wales have done and other jurisdictions as well. If we do not do that I do not think we are serving the interests of the community we are sworn to protect properly.

I commend this package to the Assembly. We will bring this back, or something very similar next year, if you knock it out. I look forward to seeing what Mr Stanhope actually comes up with. I again commend this package to the Assembly, although it does not look like it is going to get up.

Question put:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

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