Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 15 February 2017) . . Page.. 453 ..
(a) conduct an urgent, independent and comprehensive review into the bail system in the ACT and present that review to the Assembly by 30 June 2017; and
(b) liaise with the Opposition regarding the terms of reference and the appointment of the reviewer.
I would like to open my speech today with a quote from the federal Leader of the Opposition that was made just last week in the federal parliament. He said:
The most important job of every government is the safety of our people. I know that bail laws are different in every state. But what Australians in every state cannot understand is that, when offenders have done horriﬁc things, when the red light should be ﬂashing, they are out, they are on bail.
That was from Bill Shorten, the leader of the federal Labor Party, in an eloquent speech he gave as part of a condolence motion on the tragic events in Bourke Street. There are many words from many victims, from many families, from leaders, who are making similar calls for a closer look at bail. Today I add the voice of the Canberra Liberals to that list to make sure that if the red light is flashing then something is done.
This is not a new call, this is not something that has come recently and this is not in response to a singular event, as I make clear, but it is because this is important, it is prudent and it is well overdue. And I make three points regarding the case I am making. Firstly, we still do not have from the government the basic information that we should have about the offences being committed by people on bail in the territory. Secondly, I make the call because there are many people on the front line—the police, the DPP, the Victims of Crime Commissioner—who see the need for bail reform, particularly when it relates to domestic violence. Thirdly, there have been many calls, including in this place where a bipartisan committee of this place with two Labor members called for a review into bail only last year as part of a JACS inquiry.
I turn firstly to the issue of the lack of information. We looked at this issue years ago, five years ago, in this place. It was actually when Mrs Dunne was the shadow attorney-general. She had a motion, which I spoke to a number of people about, calling for some basic information about who was committing crimes on bail. I followed this up subsequently in committee meetings and questions and so on to ask the government, “All right, is bail working in the territory or not? Tell us who has committed offences on bail and what they are.”
The government’s response—and I refer you to that motion in 2012, and Mr Rattenbury spoke as well—was, “We do not record that information and it would be too hard to go through the records to find out,” in summation. That is unacceptable. The government do not even know what offences have been committed by people on bail, how many times or what the nature of those offences is, because in essence they could not be bothered to do the work to find out so that we could have an informed debate. That is entirely unacceptable.