Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 10 Hansard (Tuesday, 26 August 2008) . . Page.. 3706 ..
complainant and respondent. There are two types of orders available: domestic violence orders and personal protection orders. Each can be in interim form—up to two years—or final form—up to two years or longer—at the discretion of the court, except for consent orders. Workplace orders are also provided for; these are a specific type of protection order. Emergency orders are available for domestic violence matters.
The address of an aggrieved person can be suppressed from an order. If a respondent holds a firearms licence, the licence is suspended and the firearms and ammunition seized and detained for the period of an interim emergency order or cancelled and the firearms and ammunition seized in the case of a final order. There is some flexibility available to the court in the case of personal protection orders. There are also some relevant links to the Children and Young People Act.
We will be supporting the bill. Members should note that there were some comments made in the scrutiny of bills report in relation to these particular matters. This is a vexed area of the law. There are very strong laws laid down and some very significant powers given to police and other agencies that do not exist in other areas of the law. That is largely for very good reason, but it does mean that there are some very real human rights issues here.
In one aspect, the bill slightly improves the rights of respondents. In this area of the law, in terms of the matters that come across my desk, that is not such a bad thing, because from time to time these very strong laws have been abused, the processes have been abused and innocent parties have suffered considerably until such time as a court basically rejects what has been alleged. It is an area where we always need to be particularly vigilant, for all manner of reasons. Domestic violence is obviously quite abhorrent, but there is potential for other factors to come into play here. There are a couple of instances where this law improves the situation. And the bill contains what I would regard as relatively non-contentious areas which I have outlined. The opposition will be supporting this legislation.
MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (10.57): I welcome this bill. It provides an important protection to vulnerable people in situations of domestic violence. Domestic violence is a very frightening thing, but it involves different dynamics to violence between strangers. The intimate relationships involved often make resolutions very tricky and make it difficult to separate people. Domestic violence laws concentrate on protection orders that recognise past instances of violence and are designed to prevent anticipated violence in the future.
The main change in this bill is in clause 15, which sets out the class of people protected by the provisions of domestic violence laws. That section extends the protections from domestic violence to domestic partners and their children, relatives, a parent of the child or person. The act of committing violence against anybody vulnerable, particularly when there exists a relationship of trust or guardianship, is despicable and cowardly. It is vital that we have protection to afford security against this sort of behaviour.
This bill provides protection for a wide class of people. I am particularly glad to see that the bill extends protection to parents, since it is unfortunately the case that some