Page 4474 - Week 14 - Thursday, 28 November 2013
legislation to bring into line and partly, it seems to me, because the model criminal code project appears to have lost its momentum. The benefits of harmonisation evaporate when only the ACT, the Northern Territory and the commonwealth have even adopted model criminal codes. It is one of the examples that make people lose faith in the COAG process, and it is a reminder that when the ACT really wants to achieve reform in an important area, it should often move itself rather than wait for slow and often broken national processes.
One of the changes made in the bill is an amendment to the definition of “stolen property” as it relates to the offence of receiving stolen property. I agree with this change. It was recommended by the DPP. My understanding is that previously, to successfully prosecute this offence, the DPP would have to prove an entire chain of custody. As members can imagine, with the way that stolen property can move quickly between several people, this can be very difficult to show. The offence still requires that the person receiving the property knew that it was stolen, which of course is the key mental element for this offence.
Lastly, I will mention the amendment that changes the amount of cannabis a person can be in possession of in order for police to serve an offence notice in lieu of prosecution. Currently, this simple cannabis offence is defined to include possession of less than 25 grams of cannabis. It appears, however, that the most commonly purchased amount of cannabis for personal consumption in the territory is 28.35 grams—perhaps more easily understood as an imperial ounce. This, of course, means that the offence notice provision is often unavailable, largely defeating its purpose.
I support changing the simple cannabis offence amount to 50 grams to ensure that it is effective. One of the benefits, as the explanatory statement points out, is that the use of this scheme will improve access to early diversion away from the criminal justice system through police intervention. I have made the point before that these diversionary and early intervention initiatives are a very important part of our approach to criminal justice. I think they are particularly underlined by some of the discussions that have been taking place about the pressures on our corrections system. I am pleased to support the bill 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) (5.33), in reply: I thank members overall for their support of this bill. The amendments in the bill result from issues brought to my attention by justice stakeholders, including the DPP, Policing and our courts.
The changes in this bill are significant and important, none more so than the amendments that deal with access to justice for victims of historic sexual offences. Since 1951 victims of certain sexual offences have had only 12 months to report the offences perpetrated against them. This was the case until 1985, when the limitation periods were repealed, but the effect of those limitations continued. This bill, therefore, removes those periods created in 1951 and 1976 so that these sexual offences can now be prosecuted.