Page 628 - Week 02 - Thursday, 17 February 2005

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Someone who intentionally wounds another faces five years and for inflicting actual bodily harm the sentence is five years, as it is for assault occasioning actual bodily harm. Remember, assault occasioning actual bodily harm can be something as simple as punching someone. Basically it means drawing blood, like a split lip. For common assault—which can be anything from a push to a slap across the face, something that does not draw blood—the maximum sentence is two years. There is one summary common assault offence that the police wanted brought in for six months. That is something akin to the old fight in a public place, a very minor type of assault.

At present the animal penalties stand at one year. The bill I brought in will raise some of them to five years. It will increase the fine and increase some other penalties to two years. For the more serious offences it will increase the sentence from one year to five years. That is hardly more than acts of cruelty to people.

Mr Hargreaves: Excuse me, Mr Stefaniak, I want a ruling on this for my own education. Is this anticipating debate on a bill before the house and therefore is it okay?

MR STEFANIAK: Not really.

Mr Hargreaves: I am sorry, I am not trying to cut you down.

MR STEFANIAK: No, I know. I am trying to make sure it does not.

MR SPEAKER: There is always some latitude in the adjournment debate, Mr Hargreaves, but at the same time Mr Stefaniak should not enter into debate about a matter that is before the house.

MR STEFANIAK: I am not going to go into detail to do that. I wanted to correct something the Chief Minister said in the media. Therefore, I think you can see quite clearly that a maximum penalty of five years is at the lower end of the scale compared to penalties under the Crimes Act for offences against the person. I reiterate something I said yesterday. I notice the government suggested a penalty of two years, so I am more than happy to amend my five years to two years, and I will send members details of that later. But I put on the record the fact that the Chief Minister was quite wrong in saying that the penalties proposed would be higher than penalties for acts of cruelty against humans. The sections of the Crimes Act I have read out bear that out.

Bushfires—fuel reduction

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (5.37): This afternoon I want to address the issue of fuel reduction, which has seen the removal of large quantities of native vegetation from behind the houses of Canberra residents who live on the edge of nature parks and reserves. While fuel reduction has been carried out to protect our urban fringe from fire, it has occurred in a way that has distressed many community members. In many cases it has damaged their sense of connection with nature and removed the reason they purchased their home in that location in the first place. A number of these people undertook quite intensive management of those areas, removing rubbish, fallen branches and bark from them, and keeping them reasonably well mowed. So it could be argued that they did not present a fire hazard at all.

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