Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 15 February 2017) . . Page.. 458 ..
MR RAMSAY: I will continue to speak and I will move the amendment at the end of the speech.
We are committed to ensuring that the Bail Act operates effectively and appropriately within the criminal justice framework. This commitment is carried out through the ongoing consideration of bail laws and the need to hold together the right to liberty, ensuring that alleged offenders attend court and do not interfere with witnesses or commit further offences.
The government is committed to upholding the human rights of individuals, in particular the presumption of innocence. This is a basic tenet of our legal system. Remanding people in custody should be used as a last resort in carefully confined circumstances, with a focus on reasonable and proportionate risk management.
While it is absolutely important to be responsive and to examine the cause where there is a tragedy, we must not fall into the populist trap of politicising tragedy and engaging in a kneejerk discussion about sanctions. Of course, we could have no offences committed on bail if we never granted bail. We could end recidivism by instituting life sentences for every crime. But neither of these reactions is even remotely acceptable in a community that values human rights.
And, of course, it is not just I or this government who believes that the motion is ill-placed. I note that the ACT Bar Association yesterday stated this clearly:
To call for a review now serves only to cause unease when our bail laws already provide very strong protections for the community.
As both the President of the ACT Bar Association and the President of the ACT Law Society recently stated, the ACT legislation is fundamentally different from Victoria’s.
While tragic, the recent events in Melbourne do not automatically call for a review in the ACT. As Mr Ken Archer, President of the ACT Bar Association, succinctly explained:
… little will be gained from a review of bail law in the Territory. The Bail Act in the ACT has been amended nearly 50 times since it was enacted and is continually under review.
The President of the Bar Association outlined five reasons why residents should not be alarmed about bail. These reasons include:
• The rate at which people are refused bail is higher in the ACT than in Victoria and a third of those held at the Alexander Maconochie Centre are on remand;
• The Bail Act in the ACT makes stronger provision than Victoria for the refusal of bail if a person has committed offences whilst on bail. In the ACT if a person has committed a serious offence whilst on bail, bail can only be granted in … exceptional circumstances;
• The ACT does not have a bail justices system that is used in Victoria. In the