Page 2430 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 29 June 2005
hopefully, deterrent to what is a particularly nasty crime, a particularly gutless crime, which is reasonably uncommon but not that uncommon in our community.
I can recall at least a couple of cases in our local courts where some particular lowlife deliberately tried to harm an unborn child, either to get at the woman because they were jilted or for some other spurious reason, or whatever. But it is particularly nasty, and I think it is important that there are appropriate offences to fit the crime so that appropriate punishment, if need be, can be meted out by courts. That, after all, is what our justice system is largely about; it is about protecting society; it is about protecting victims; it is about having appropriate offences for appropriate actions.
We in this place have frequently passed new laws providing new offences, ranging in severity from certain things like industrial manslaughter, which we do not necessarily agree with—we had a perfectly good manslaughter law—down to more misdemeanour-type things. Nevertheless, there are new offences. So there is absolutely nothing wrong with what is being proposed here.
Mr Pratt, indeed, has been incredibly careful in how he has crafted this. He has worked very closely with Mr Seselja and me. We have been in on it with him. He has sought opinion not only from both Mr Seselja and me, and had us in on meetings, but also he has worked very closely with Parliamentary Counsel. He has crafted legislation to ensure that it hits the spot, that it does not have any unforeseen consequences, that it does relate just to these matters, that it has got nothing to do with the question of abortion or the woman’s right to choose or not to choose. Those things are irrelevant. This homes in specifically on where a person intentionally assaults a pregnant woman and knows or reasonably ought to know that she is pregnant, intending to kill a child or to inflict serious harm on that unborn child.
There are also offences in relation to culpable driving. I think it has been mentioned earlier in this debate, either today or on a previous occasion, that there are a number of culpable driving cases that fall within the generic area of this particular crime.
I think it has been crafted very effectively. It certainly does counter one of the nasty areas of crimes in our community, albeit not a very common one—nothing like burglary or the common or garden variety assaults you get in the street or anything like that. Nevertheless, it is a very serious crime and one I think that civilised society has an understandable abhorrence to but which is not adequately covered at present. I think that has probably answered some of the issues raised by Dr Foskey.
Mr Stanhope mentioned section 92 of the Human Rights Act. I remember that was a problematic debate in its own right. That act says life begins at birth. That probably is another issue. That probably was deliberately put in there simply because of his views and his party’s views in relation to abortion. That is in there in that act. I think that was criticised by a number of people. He could have perhaps gone the other way there. I do not think that is necessarily an argument to bring up here—the problematic discussions that welled in relation to that—that, in itself, being a controversial decision, as it were.
What we have here is good, sensible legislation; it is carefully crafted. It is not a new, trail-blazing piece of legislation on its own. There have been moves in other states. There have certainly been moves in other jurisdictions and effective legislation in other