Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 1 July 2008) . . Page.. 2456 ..
submissions during the consultation process have been addressed, I am relatively happy with what the government has presented, and I will be supporting the bill.
MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (12.18): The Children and Young People Bill is the largest piece of legislation ever to come before this place. Was this bill referred to a committee for detailed analysis of its more than 750 pages? No, it was not, despite requests from the opposition that that occur. I do not think it is appropriate that it only be examined by the scrutiny of bills committee, which has specific and somewhat narrow terms of reference in terms of bills. It is to look at technical aspects of bills and other instruments of a legislative nature.
Indeed, the committee’s report on the Children and Young People Bill does exactly that and does little more than draw to the Assembly’s attention a number of technical points. It makes no recommendation. That is the role of that committee. It is not the role of that committee to delve into the operational aspect of bills and legislative instruments that come before this place; that is the role of select and standing committees. For example, the Select Committee on Estimates does not look at the technical aspects of the relevant legislation; it looks at the detail, the operational aspects, how the legislation will affect the lives of the people of Canberra.
This bill should at least have been referred to the Standing Committee on Education, Training and Young People. It probably should have been referred to a select committee to conduct a full public inquiry into the effect the bill would have on children and young people and, indeed, their families, networks and the people of Canberra generally. So if this bill does not achieve what it sets out to achieve or if it has unintended consequences for the many stakeholders, be it on the government’s head.
There are six chapters to this bill, chapters 4 to 9, devoted to criminal matters, and these chapters comprise over 180 of the 750 pages of the bill. Indeed, leaving out the schedule to the bill which covers amendments to other legislation, the bill proper is 655 pages, which means more than one-quarter of the bill is taken up by the provisions relating to criminal matters.
It is ridiculous that this volume of material was not either incorporated into existing legislation that deals with the kinds of matters covered or made into a new, separate piece of legislation. This is especially relevant if it is intended that the treatment of children and young people should be distinct from that of adults. Even so, there is potential for confusion with the proliferation of cross-references from one place to another. Indeed, we already see a government amendment to this bill that clearly has come about because of the confusion this government’s grab-bag approach has created.
I will turn now to the sentencing provisions of the bill. Proposed new chapter 8A of the Crimes (Sentencing) Act adds a glossary to its provisions of considerations to be taken into account on sentencing and presentencing report matters. The object, I understand, is to have a chapter that simply sets out the special provisions that apply to children and young people. To that end, proposed section 133D adds, for example, some additional relevant considerations when sentencing young offenders. And they are: