Page 278 - Week 01 - Thursday, 14 February 2008

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Justice and Community Safety Legislation Amendment Bill 2007 (No 2)

Revised explanatory statement

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services): For the information of members I present a revised explanatory statement to the Justice and Community Safety Legislation Amendment Bill 2007 (No 2). This revised explanatory statement is presented in response to matters raised by the scrutiny of bills committee.

Community safety in Canberra

Discussion of matter of public importance

MADAM TEMPORARY DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mrs Dunne): Mr Speaker has received letters from Mrs Burke, Mrs Dunne, Dr Foskey, Mr Gentleman, Ms MacDonald, Mr Mulcahy, Ms Porter, Mr Pratt, Mr Seselja, Mr Smyth and Mr Stefaniak, proposing that matters of public importance be submitted to the Assembly. In accordance with standing order 79, Mr Speaker has determined that the matter proposed by Mr Pratt be submitted to the Assembly, namely:

Community safety in Canberra.

MR PRATT (Brindabella) (3.51): I welcome the opportunity to speak again on the very important issue of community safety. This is an issue that is increasingly on the agenda in this place, and quite rightly so. The ACT community deserve to feel safe as they go about their business. It could be a matter of feeling safe to walk the streets, do their job, catch a bus or a taxi, go out with friends on a Friday or a Saturday night without fear of being assaulted or subjected to other antisocial and criminal activity; it could involve the elderly who are trying to live in their homes in peace and quiet, tend to their gardens and not see their properties vandalised; it could involve families who live in quiet streets who do not wish to see their 50-kilometre-per-hour streets used as rat-run drag strips for young people who want to perhaps take a few shortcuts; or the feeling of being safe that could come from the knowledge that our community is adequately prepared for bushfires and other natural or manmade disasters.

Despite the Stanhope government’s constant refrain that we are safe, and should feel safe to catch a bus or a taxi, unfortunately, the feeling in the community at the moment appears to be that most of us do not always feel safe, particularly when catching public transport. At the outset I would have to agree that Canberra city is certainly a safer city than many in Australia, and when it is rated against the larger provincial towns on a proportionate basis, we are fairly safe. But it certainly does not allow us to suggest that, because we compare reasonably well with cities around the nation or, indeed, with other like-minded societies around the world, we should ever give up stopping a deterioration in standards.

Right across Australia, we believe there is a deterioration in community safety standards. It is the responsibility of government to ensure they have in place the procedures and systems—the emergency management systems, the community safety systems—so that we maintain the highest possible standards. After all, the objective

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