Page 3240 - Week 10 - Thursday, 25 August 2005

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I am advised by the police in respect of other issues raised—issues of grave concern quite rightly raised around the safety of any resident or citizen acting lawfully, or indeed simply being present in the city or any other area of Canberra—that there has been a steady decrease in the number of reported assaults. I do not say this to in any way suggest that this particular assault is not the most serious issue and is not receiving the full attention of the police—it is. It is being vigorously investigated. The police are following leads and information currently available to them but, of course, would welcome the continuing assistance of the community in relation to their investigation of this particular matter.

Always, of course, when there is a serious assault such as this that gains significant media attention—as it quite appropriately does and has—there are concerns about the extent to which ours is a safe community. Compared to other major metropolitan areas in Australia, Canberra continues to be a very safe place.

Mr Smyth: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I did not ask whether Canberra was a safe place; the question was, “What did this student do wrong? What facts are there that demonstrate that there was more he could have done to protect himself?” The Chief Minister is not answering the question.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Smyth, you understand the standing orders as well as I do. The Chief Minister is remaining relevant. And he has five minutes in which to respond to the question that you have asked.

MR STANHOPE: In fact, I did respond to that specific part of the question. I indicated initially that I did not have that information or advice, and I don’t. Even if I did, as a result of the operational requirements of the police investigating a crime such as this, it is not information that would be provided. Indeed, in the context perhaps of the privacy of the individual involved, I had answered that question. I thought perhaps the Leader of the Opposition would be interested in other aspects of issues around assault and safety. I was simply addressing those particular issues. Mr Smyth obviously is not interested. He may choose not to listen to the rest of the answer.

The issue I conclude on is this: in recent times the number of reported assaults in Civic has dropped quite dramatically. For instance, the weekly assault rate for the city over the period 27 June to 21 August is two, two, three, eight, seven, seven, five, four, four, two, two. In each of the last two weeks there were two reported assaults in the city, dropping from a high of eight, with two weeks of seven just six weeks ago.

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Chief Minister, do you stand by the comments of Mr Hargreaves that this student should have taken additional actions to protect himself?

MR STANHOPE: I was not aware of any comment that the minister made to that effect. I am simply not in a position to respond to what it is the minister may or may not have said. I have given the Assembly today the advice available to me in relation to this matter. That advice is that this is a very serious assault with very serious consequences. The ACT police are investigating it most vigorously. They have certain information available to them. They look forward to continuing cooperation from anybody that may

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