Page 4113 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 15 November 2005

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MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (12.24): The opposition will be supporting this amendment. I would like to point out, and no doubt Mr Pratt will probably have something to say on this, too, that on two occasions Mr Pratt submitted perfectly good bills replicating New South Wales legislation. One was voted down in the last Assembly and one, I think, earlier in this Assembly. Mr Pratt put a lot of effort into preparing bills designed to protect pregnant women who suffer a serious injury and whose child suffers serious injury as a result of attacks on them. The bills basically followed New South Wales legislation and practice in other states as well.

The government says it is going to have its own bill. It has a foreshadowed bill dealing with offences against pregnant women. The government is very slow to get pieces of legislation before the Assembly. This particular piece of legislation, it is stated, took three years and it is a significant piece of legislation. But when good ideas are put forward, it is ridiculous for a government to find some excuse, any excuse, to vote them down and then finally come up with something which is pretty similar, if not identical, which does the same thing and say, “Aren’t we good? Look at what we’ve done.”

I am quite happy to support sensible amendments that the government is making here. I am quite happy to support a sensible piece of legislation, despite the fact that it does not go far enough. These bills generally are sensible. It is ridiculous that the government, having not supported the bills that Mr Pratt presented, now brings something like this in here that will go only part of the way because we have to wait to see what the substantive offences are.

This legislation itself has to be recognised for what it is. It is merely one of the considerations that courts have to take account of when sentencing offenders, people who have been convicted of committing crimes. It is just one factor. It may have some benefit initially, but we certainly need substantive legislation. I want to point out we had good, substantive legislation put up by Mr Pratt which has now been voted out on two occasions by this government. I wonder when we are going to see this next segment of the Criminal Code actually introduced.

If Mr Pratt’s legislation had been accepted, pregnant women in the territory could have been protected for probably two years. How much longer are we going to have to wait? Having said that, this is at least a start, but we could have got to the desired result a lot earlier.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (12.27): Mr Stefaniak raised the issue of Mr Pratt’s legislation. I want to say that the Greens disagreed with it for quite good reasons. The intent of the legislation may have been similar to what is expressed in this amendment, which we do agree with. It is a matter of concern that the opposition does not see a difference between an amendment like this and hopefully the forthcoming legislation, which will be in line with that approach, and some underlying concerns and implications of the earlier bill. We will be supporting the amendment.

MR PRATT (Brindabella) (12.28): At long last we have something being introduced to try to plug a very large anomaly in law. I welcome the Chief Minister’s amendment No 4. It is certainly better than nothing. It goes some way to addressing what is not only a major anomaly in law here in the ACT, but indeed across the entire nation.

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