Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 06 Hansard (Friday, 27 June 2008) . . Page.. 2339 ..
for this minister to run the emergency services properly, but I doubt whether he has got the will. (Time expired.)
MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (11.17): This line also includes the ACT Policing arm of the AFP. I guess the real question is: how is the ACT being policed? Are the police officers on the street being given the appropriate tools to do their job? Are they being given the back-up that they feel they deserve through the judiciary? Are they being allowed to do their job in the way they would like to do it and are they being listened to by the government?
The clear indication that this government is unwilling to back the judgement of the AFP is, of course, in the government’s rejection of Mr Stefaniak’s bill recently, which wanted to introduce a much broader range of on-the-spot fines to nip much more crime in the bud, so that situations did not get out of hand and necessitate arrest and then, of course, the involvement of the whole judicial system.
It is interesting to note that the minister today tabled the ACT criminal justice statistical profile for the March 2008 quarter and then put out the obligatory press release. I have to say that it is the most bizarrely presented press release I have ever seen. The first third is in something that looks like six or eight-point font. There is a beautiful paragraph in the middle that is in 12 or 14-point font, and then it goes down to this very small print. The heading is “Motor vehicle theft and burglary rates down”—and it is true that they have declined somewhat over the last 12 months. There is a middle paragraph that absolutely lauds the government’s property crime reduction strategy and the expanded engine immobiliser scheme launched earlier this year. And good luck to the government for doing that. It is a worthwhile initiative. But when you get to the small print, it is going to sound corny, but you then read in the small print about sexual offences. These are the paragraphs that need to be placed on the record and brought to the attention of members:
Unfortunately sexual offences and assaults have increased in the reporting period, by 13 per cent and 6.5 per cent respectively, but the Government is determined to continue to look for ways to reverse this trend.
The next paragraph reads:
I urge the public to take the opportunity to provide a submission to our paper on review of the Liquor Act, and to consider a range of reforms for sexual assault law that I intend to introduce to the Assembly later this year.
That is the government’s answer to a 13 per cent increase in sexual assaults and a 6.5 per cent increase in general assaults: “Put in a submission to our review of the Liquor Act and wait until later in the year. I will put some reforms in place to the sexual assault laws.” It is absolutely pathetic that, in this day and age, there in the small print, the government’s solution is, “Give us a submission and wait for some law.” Absolutely appalling!
Mr Stefaniak wanted to nip in the bud the sort of activity that may escalate into far more dangerous and far more serious offences by giving the police the tools to nip these things in the bud. The minister could not go the whole way there. Mr Stefaniak