Page 712 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 1 April 2008
when it is so assured of defeat on an issue that it does not even really bother to try, and that is the case here. I was willing to let Mr Stefaniak’s legislation be discussed as a cognate debate today without warning, and certainly without consultation, because, at first blush—and we have looked at the legislation, but not in the detail that we would have liked—it is legislation that goes too far.
What we need to remember is if you give the police more powers the issue is enforcement of those powers. As with so many of the issues before us in this Assembly, the issue is not that we lack the legislation; it is that the legislation is not always enforced as it should be. We could have the most draconian legislation around, and sometimes I wonder if that is what Mr Stefaniak is angling for. I believe that would be totally inappropriate in our territory. I believe that we are small enough to work at every level with young people and the people who commit crimes in this place. Sentencing and on-the-spot fines are just two very small tools that can be used.
I will go back to the bill now and to the speech that I had prepared on the government’s legislation. You would have thought that, since this legislation will mostly impact on young people aged 16 to around 25, the ACT government would have sought their direct comment from such youth-oriented community bodies as the Commissioner for Children and Young People and the Youth Coalition for the ACT when drafting the bill. However, these organisations were not even aware of the Crimes Amendment Bill until my office notified them during the previous sitting week when the bill was first on the notice paper. Since then, I understand these organisations have provided the Attorney-General with comments and, no doubt, the amendment that we have before us today is an indication of how far those comments have been taken into account.
In considering this bill, my office has been concerned about the lack of information available about the level of fine most likely to be awarded for each offence. The scrutiny of bills report of 3 March raised concerns about the need for a proportionate response when limiting freedom of expression, as per human rights principles. For example, if a police officer or city ranger is to award a fine to a person who affixes posters to or chalks on public property, will it be treated in the same manner as permanent graffiti? About a decade ago, I was one of the organisers of a demonstration on Hiroshima Day where we chalked the outlines of bodies on the pavement and on walls just to remind people what happened when the nuclear bomb hit Hiroshima—people were vaporised, they were turned into shadows. Those chalk outlines would be illegal under this legislation.
Mr Hargreaves: They already are. Do it again and you’ll end up locked up. They have always been illegal, Dr Foskey. This one has been around 10 years ago. It is illegal now.
DR FOSKEY: Thank you, Mr Hargreaves, for your very informed commentary. In that case the outlines were rubbed out a little bit later on, but they were there for a while. I wonder how people use the visual element to declare their opposition in temporary media, such as chalk. I must say that it really is quite difficult to see chalk aligned with spray paint, for instance, which, of course, we know is a permanent marker.