Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 5116 ..
MR SMYTH (continuing):
terms of the regulations. That is a concern, but these words are taken from the New South Wales system where it seems to work. If the Chief Minister is concerned about it, I look forward to his amendment to the bill in the months to come.
Ms Dundas, the Democrat, said she was delighted to read a bill that talked about rehabilitation instead of enforcement and heavy-handed, law-and-order-type attitudes. I am delighted to surprise the Democrats. I take on board her suggestions about how to deal with people with an illness and indigenous people. The act provides that regardless of people's race they be dealt with appropriately, but if members want to put specific amendments that outline that I'd be delighted to see them. We need to send a very strong message in this regard.
Ms Tucker talked about the objectives. I would be delighted to see them expanded. If we can become even more explicit and broader, and more inclusive at the same time, that would be a good thing. We often forget the objective sections of bills. We need to state what we're attempting to achieve in bills so that when they are being interpreted in the courts it is quite clear what we want to achieve. We need to look at objectives in bills more often. Mrs Cross was quite right about the toolkit concept. It gives judges scope to individually tailor sentences that they think will help people down the rehabilitation path. If we can marry that with the caseworkers to ensure they get the assistance they need, we will get better outcomes.
Part of what prompted me to do this was a Clean Up Australia Day at Burnie Court some years ago before it disappeared. I think you attended, Mr Deputy-Speaker, Mr Stefaniak came and Gary Humphries turned up. We were greeted by a guy with tattoos and a cut-off red T-shirt, and he was absolutely delighted to join in a community activity. After a few minutes of digging he was a bit knocked up and he apologised for being out of condition. He got out of Goulburn jail at 7 o'clock that morning and at 10 o'clock he was with a bunch of blokes digging a hole to fix a pathway in Burnie Court. He said he was absolutely delighted. Every other time he'd got out of Goulburn jail he'd come to Burnie Court, got depressed, spent his money on a six pack and inevitably gone straight back to Goulburn jail because that's all he knew. So maybe that Clean Up Australia Day helped one offender not to re-offend. We need to make sure that the support systems are in place. The Chief Minister is right; they will be expensive, but what is the price of not doing it? What is the price for all of us, let alone those who offend?
This is part of the broad package from the Liberal Party that looks at community safety. Of course, we should work towards prevention and that's why Mr Pratt has mentioned in his policy closer relations with the police in the schoolyard. Incorrectly reported as Gestapo and jackboots in schools, very successful programs exist around this country of relationships between young school children and police officers to give young people role models. Everyone would agree that role models for young males are important. They give young Canberrans the sense that they have a friend in the police, someone they can trust and go to. So prevention is always important. Under this government the number of prevention programs has gone down from 14 to four, so the government's basic plank has gone out the window in its first term.
Police need the numbers and appropriate tools to do their job properly and safeguard the community. Their job is hard enough without them being hindered. We on this side of the house do not resile from appropriate sentencing, but through rehabilitation, through