Page 3643 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 26 August 2008

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MR SPEAKER: It is not about the Greens, Dr Foskey. It is about you only. It is a personal explanation.

DR FOSKEY: Mr Barr suggested that I was ignorant. It was evident to anyone who listened to my speech that I am well aware of the different responsibilities.

In relation to Mrs Dunne’s comment that I am a Luddite, nothing in my speech would suggest that I am a Luddite. I remind Mrs Dunne that even technophiles are concerned about greenhouse gases.

In relation to Mr Mulcahy’s propagation of an urban myth that I did not go to Singapore because of greenhouse gases, certainly that was a factor, but the main reason I chose not to go, as no doubt he would know if he had asked me, was that I felt that a technical inspection of the plant would have been wasted upon me. I do not have the kind of expertise to have benefited from the visit. A three-day trip to that plant did not seem a really good investment, whereas a 20-day trip to Brazil, doing work where I was able to engage in study and activities that I understood would benefit me and also the wider polity. I certainly hope that all members are circumspect about their use—

MR SPEAKER: Order! This is not the time for a policy speech, Dr Foskey.

DR FOSKEY: Thank you.

Crimes Legislation Amendment Bill 2008

Debate resumed from 7 August 2008, on motion by Mr Corbell.

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (4.55): This bill is a very significant one and the opposition will be supporting it. We will be moving two amendments, which I will speak to, and I do have some concerns about the operation of that part of the bill. The rest of it is largely timely. There is one other area that I will address in terms of some problems expressed in the scrutiny report and also by legal practitioners.

The bill aims, as it states, to improve efficiencies in the justice system for witnesses and defendants, including extending the jurisdiction of the Magistrates Court. My office and I were briefed on this on 12 August this year. The bill amends some 14 acts, and many of the amendments are technical and consequential.

The purpose of the bill is to increase the threshold for matters that must be dealt with summarily in the Magistrates Court, to cover offences with a maximum penalty of two years, up from 12 months, and property offences involving up to $30,000, which is up from $10,000. That ensures that minor matters, such as minor assaults, simply cannot go to the Supreme Court. Whilst the opposition is very keen to ensure that there is a right to a trial—indeed, I have commented recently that we would like to see more jury trials in the Supreme Court rather than trial by judge alone—for minor

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