Page 4475 - Week 14 - Thursday, 28 November 2013

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Children who were sexually assaulted between 1951 and 1985 have also been affected by this limitation period. The difficulty experienced by victims of these offences in reporting within a 12-month period is even greater for children, who may not even know at the time that what is happening to them is wrong. Adults living with this trauma have also had to suffer because our laws have denied them any avenue for justice.

We now know that limitation periods like these are fundamentally unjust and in conflict with all we have learned in recent times about sexual assault reporting. Victims of sexual assault may not report the crimes committed against them for many years, for a range of reasons. These may include that the perpetrator is a family member. A child may not understand the nature of the offending behaviour inflicted upon them. Threats may have been made by the perpetrator to silence the victim. Victims may believe that they themselves are at fault or other family members may encourage the victim not to report.

All of these factors highlight the importance of removing the limitation period. It is an important response, particularly in the context of the new royal commission into offending behaviour against children and young people in care which is currently underway.

Turning to the other provisions outlined in the bill, I will address in particular the changes proposed in relation to the operation of the ACT’s simple cannabis offence notice. The proposal is to extend the provisions of the application of the notice, to move it from the current provision of a person holding an amount of cannabis up to 25 grams to an amount up to 50 grams.

Mr Hanson says that the comparison table that was provided to him highlighted that in fact it is only the ACT, the Northern Territory and South Australia that have different threshold amounts, and that ours is the lowest compared to those other two jurisdictions. That is because those are the only three jurisdictions that have simple cannabis offence notices. All the other jurisdictions deal with cannabis offences in a range of different ways, but without an offence notice, a fine, an expiation notice, as an alternative to a criminal action of some sort. So that is why that comparison is made in that way.

But it is simply the case that it is inappropriate for persons holding small amounts of cannabis for personal use to be engaged in the full-blown process of the criminal justice system, including hearings in court and possible time in jail. There are alternatives that should be exercised—and the simple cannabis offence notice is one of those—and the threshold amounts should be consistent with the amounts being deployed for personal use; otherwise the simple cannabis offence notice scheme simply does not operate as intended. So that is the rationale behind that change.

As Mr Rattenbury highlighted, the other important change is amending the definition of “stolen property” for the offence of receiving stolen property so that it means an appropriation of property. The current definition requires proof of a chain of title,

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