Page 708 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .

Amending the existing offence of noise abatement direction is fine, too. Defacing premises is a sensible new offence and I think that is to be applauded. Indeed, with respect to amending the offence of consuming liquor in certain public places by saying that if someone is carrying a can of VB, it is a can of VB, and the police do not have to formally prove that, that is a very sensible improvement to our law. So, as far as it goes, I commend it. Given that the government is going to vote against my bill, we will, naturally, support the passage of this bill, because any improvement is better than nothing.

I am pleased to see that at least the government realises it is not only people who are aged 18 or over who commit these offences. I have said in this place on a number of occasions that, sadly, 17-year-olds often commit offences that are just as serious as those committed by an 18-year-old, and there can be an artificial distinction in that regard. I think that extending the service of these infringement notices to 16 and 17-year-olds is a reasonable step as well. In my bill there is a more blanket approach. But, at the end of the day, at least there is recognition by the government that it should be extended to 16 and 17-year-olds. I also have no problem with which officers will be issuing these infringement notices.

I think the government have missed a golden opportunity here to do the job properly. It is a bit like the Gungahlin Drive extension: they could have done the job properly there. We could have had two lanes going both ways; unfortunately, we have only one. In this case I would say the government are getting it about 30 per cent right. The offences for which the police really wanted on-the-spot fines, apart from these, are the ones that crop up all the time—the biggies such as offensive behaviour and fighting in a public place.

Mr Corbell has flagged that at some stage in the future he will enable police to issue a summons on the spot to enable the matter to be taken to court. I cannot see what the difference is. For example, if police observe two people fighting in a public place, what is the difference between that and observing someone urinating in a public place? Police are going to have to use their discretion in both of those cases. If police see someone urinating and they also see two people fighting in a public place, what is the difference? Why does one have to be subject to a court hearing while the other does not?

Mr Corbell: It may be assault, to start with.

MR STEFANIAK: That is not so, Mr Corbell. There is a series of offences in relation to assaults. Fighting in a public place is a tried and proven charge which police have used, under the old Summary Offences Act and now in the Crimes Act, for minor infringements. It does not carry a huge penalty, for very obvious reasons—it is not in the same category as a vicious assault on a person. The offence involves two people, usually drunk, who are fighting in a public place, and it caters for that specific eventuality. Police exercise their discretion very well in that regard, and in the past people have regularly been charged with that offence. It is an obvious one where an infringement notice could be issued.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .