Page 1332 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 9 April 2013
I would make a couple of final, additional points in response to some of what Mr Rattenbury had to say. I think that when we are dealing with the difficult public policy issues around the manufacture and distribution of drugs, there are difficult choices for us to make as legislators. I think there is no doubt that organised crime has been able to exploit loopholes in our laws to the extent that it has become difficult to prosecute drug offences in many cases.
One only has to speak to members of our police force, who are constantly frustrated by the fact that organised crime is often one step ahead and is often able to use laws which, well intentioned as they may be, simply allow the proliferation of drugs in our community, to see that the message from the passage of legislation such as this is: those who are considering manufacturing illegal drugs should think even more carefully, and this legislative change is designed to stop them. It is designed to stop the proliferation of illegal drugs. It is designed to strike at the heart of organised crime in our community. In doing that, there are difficult choices. We believe that this strikes the right balance, notwithstanding some of the issues that were raised by Mr Rattenbury.
In relation to the points that he made about the human rights compatibility of this legislation, I suppose only time will tell whether or not some convicted drug dealer attempts to use the Human Rights Act to strike down a piece of legislation designed to get at organised crime. I think that would be unfortunate. I think that if that is, in fact, the case, and if we do see court cases like that in the future, it will, of course, call into question the current structure of our Human Rights Act, if efforts such as these to get at the heart of organised crime can be struck down as a result of our Human Rights Act.
That remains to be seen, but we will watch that and see whether or not the Human Rights Act, in fact, becomes an excuse for drug dealers to get away with their crimes. We certainly hope that that will not be the case. As a result of all of the issues I have put forward, the opposition will be supporting this particular clause today.
MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations and Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development) (11.17): I thank members for their comments in this debate. I will address briefly a range of the issues raised in the debate today but very quickly, just in response to the matters raised by Mr Seselja, it is not the case that the Human Rights Act can strike down legislation. Yes, a court can rule that an act of this place is inconsistent with the Human Rights Act, but that does not affect the application of the law. It would be a matter for this place to decide whether or not the law should then stand. It is important to clarify that argument.
Controlling precursors and enforcing these controls is essential if we want to reduce the harm caused by illicit drugs to members of our community. The clause we are debating today will modify the possessing controlled precursor offence at section 612(5) of the Criminal Code by inserting a presumption that will apply to one of the two intent fault elements for the offence. The presumption, as members have outlined, will apply to the fault element at section 612(5)(b), but only where the elements at