Page 138 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 15 February 2012

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of the times; a reflection of the fact that triple bottom line sustainability considerations can no longer be omitted from the work of any environmental authority, and that sustainability monitoring and reporting is critical to ensuring the realisation of our sustainability goals.

I look forward to discussing this bill with the other parties in order to achieve the improvements that are necessary for the legislation governing the commissioner, and I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Corbell) adjourned to the next sitting.

Crimes (Offences Against Police) Amendment Bill 2012

Mr Seselja, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR SESELJA (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (10.31): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

In August last year I presented to the Assembly and the community an exposure draft of a very important bill that addresses a very important and increasingly troubling issue. At the outset I want to remind the Assembly what this bill is about. It is about headlines like “Another attack on police” from July last year. It is about revelations that police officers in the ACT are being assaulted at a rate of nearly one a week or situations such as the police officer who was grabbed in a headlock and hit repeatedly. It is about stories like the one entitled “Another weekend attack on police” from last August. It is about saying “enough”. It is about recognising the unique difficulties faced by our police, the extraordinary courage we ask of them and our responsibility to offer exceptional protection for them as recognition of the exceptional protection they provide to the community.

There has been much discussion about this matter before in this place. There have been legal and constitutional debates. There have been bills and motions. What I want to address today is a reality, and that reality is that the current laws are not working. We can tell from the reports in the media and from our interactions with police officers that the current laws are unworkable or ineffective.

Presently there is only a choice of assault upon a commonwealth officer, which is technically difficult to raise and practically impossible to establish, or there is common assault, which is easier to establish but has been shown through precedent and application that it amounts to charges and sentences that are inadequate. It sends the message that an assault on a police officer is a less serious offence.

We do not believe an attack on a police officer doing their duty is a less serious offence. We need to send a message that this Assembly treats assaults on our officers as a very serious offence. This bill does that. It does it reasonably and sensibly and does, I feel, strike the right balance between the message we want to send and the issues that have been previously raised.

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