Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 1 April 2008) . . Page.. 710 ..
offence of buying, possessing and consuming liquor by underage people. Again, that is a particularly useful offence. There is nothing like hitting the old hip-pocket nerve. With respect to the prescribed penalties in my bill––
Mr Corbell: Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. I am sorry to interrupt Mr Stefaniak but I have a point of clarification. I am not clear how this procedure occurs. Mr Stefaniak has already introduced his bill and has spoken to it. We are now debating his bill cognately with the government bill. He has already spoken on his bill. What is provided under the standing orders in relation to his speaking again? I am not objecting to what Mr Stefaniak is saying; he is making quite legitimate argument points. I just want to clarify what the standing orders provide.
MR SPEAKER: The practice is that, following leave of the Assembly being granted to debate the bills cognately, the Assembly effectively gives leave for Mr Stefaniak to refer to his bill again.
MR STEFANIAK: Thank you, Mr Speaker. That is exactly what I am doing. I mentioned the three areas under the Liquor Act. Again, it hits the old hip-pocket nerve. Offences such as the buying, possessing and consumption of liquor by underage people, the supply of liquor to underage people and the consumption of liquor in certain public places—which I think Mr Corbell’s bill does contain—are very sensible, logical matters where an infringement notice can be issued.
We do it for speeding, we do it for going through red lights and for a wide range of traffic offences. It is very sensible to apply it in criminal law in some of these lower category types of offences, which is what we are dealing with here. By doing it effectively, we can cut street offences by 50 per cent, just as they have done in New South Wales, where there are a whole suite of on-the-spot fines. That is what my bill does but the government bill does not.
If we can cut offences by 50 per cent, that will perhaps lead to a number of more serious offences not occurring because they have been nipped in the bud. All the police officers that I spoke to—the experienced ones out there on the street who have dealt with this type of behaviour for many years—have stressed the great benefits of having on-the-spot fines for this suite of offences contained in my bill.
In my bill, “prescribed penalty” means that if the penalty for the offence to which the prescribed penalty relates is more than two penalty units—in other words, more than $200—the infringement notice will be for $200; otherwise it will be for $100. Most of the ones covered by my bill are for $200; there are some that would be for $100.
The regime is not terribly different from the government’s, but the government’s bill badly misses some of the key offences which should be subject to on-the-spot fines. It goes about 30 per cent of the way; it will help. Police will still have to exercise discretion. I refer, for example, to urinating in a public place. If someone is going to great lengths to hide themselves by doing it in a back alley or behind a tree and you can hardly see them, they might be in a public place but whether a police officer would give an infringement notice for that would be a moot point; they may not.