Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 1 April 2008) . . Page.. 728 ..
missing something there. The actual amendment finishes with an “if” and then a dash and that would indicate that further things follow, but that does not seem to be the case on page 5. For starters, that is a technical point, attorney; if you can just address whether page 5 is the right reference and, if so, the amendment appears to stop in mid-sentence, which might be a problem.
The other thing I do have a concern with in the attorney’s bill, which is obviously going to get up and through which 17 and 16-year-olds will be given on-the-spot fines, is: what happens if they refuse to pay and they do not pay? Has there been any problem in the past with the word “must”? The attorney himself said that, if there is no other alternative at the end of the day, if that is all that is available, the young person might have to do one or two days to pay out the amount of money owed. That would be in a nice secure facility and I do not think that anyone is suggesting that that would cause any great problems for any young person were they to serve one or two days out and have to do it at Quamby, which I assume would be the facility. It does concern me that, by putting in “may”, some young people may be able to get off scot-free and that there may be some significant problems with that.
I also note the word “registrar”. Perhaps we need to look at whether, if you do need to make that final decision, it should be given to the magistrate. I would have thought magistrates are more than capable of doing that, and have done from time immemorial on issues such as that. I hear what the attorney says, but I do have some fears in relation to young people simply flouting their noses at the law, getting off scot-free, for some quite obnoxious type of behaviour which warrants these on-the-spot fines being issued to them. Surely, that is not the message we want to send to young people. Young people need direction; they need to be told that certain activities will not be tolerated; that they are meant to be useful members of society; that they cannot do exactly what they want with absolutely no consequences. I fear that this may well send the wrong message there. If a discretion is needed this is one area where the magistrate, the Childrens Court magistrate invariably in these matters, would be able to exercise that—obviously has the skills to do so and does it on a daily basis.
So I make those points, although I doubt if the attorney is going to accept my argument in relation to my concerns about “may” rather than “must”, but I would like him to certainly address whether in fact he is putting this in the right place. That does not seem to be clear from my initial reading of where he has got it, page 5, and the substantive bill.
DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (12.07): The Greens support this amendment. We think it is a recognition of the status of the young person in terms of the way that they are treated and it is a response to concerns stated by the commissioner for children and young people. But, while I accept this amendment, it does make me wonder about the process of developing this legislation—whether it was an over-response to the situation at the time, which was attracting quite a bit of media. We know that the media has cycles and moves on; the issues may still be out there but the media is no longer capitalising upon them. But it is concerning when the government’s response comes perhaps more from the perspective put by Mr Stefaniak and less from its human rights stance, which of course we know this government has adopted and which is meant to be integral to everything we do in this place.