Page 681 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 8 March 2005

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some knowledge or intention ought be required to commit a particular offence (in which case a specific defence is provided), the defendant’s frame of mind at the time is irrelevant. The penalties for offences cast in these terms are lower than for those requiring proof of fault.

An absolute liability, of course, is similar to strict liability in its nature but also removes the defence of mistake of fact. Essentially, this means that conduct alone is sufficient to make the defendant culpable. However, some defences such as intervening conduct or event are also available. Absolute liability has been provided for an element where mistake of fact by the defendant would not be the appropriate defence in the circumstances. However, in all cases where absolute liability has been applied, a particular defence with either a legal burden or an evidential burden has been specified in the further provisions of the offence.

I think this is an important piece of legislation. It is not particularly controversial. It does make our classification system, I think, perhaps a little bit truer in its depictions or descriptions in relation to the advisory categories, as opposed to the restricted categories. The basis or rationale for the changes was the subject of some significant public research by the Office of Film and Literature Classification. It was discovered by the OFLC that there was enormous confusion or misunderstanding within the community around exactly what the classifications meant and what the restrictions implied.

The new system really is designed to meet the level of ignorance that existed within the community about exactly what each of these categories, G, PG, M or MA mean. At one stage there was an intervening category that was essentially meaningless. I believe the amendments to the classification legislation are warranted. They are not particularly controversial, but it is a very interesting subject and one that is always of lively interest to the community. I thank members for their support and certainly commend this bill to them.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.

Disability Services—Board of Inquiry

Paper and statement by minister

Debate resumed from 15 February 2005, on motion by Mr Hargreaves:

That the Assembly takes note of the paper.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (11.08): In my first real sitting day in the Assembly in December, I raised, as a matter of public importance, the importance of comprehensive and effective statutory oversight of services for Canberra’s vulnerable people. These same issues are before us again in debating the fourth six-monthly report on the implementation of the government response to the Gallop report.

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