Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 16 February 2017) . . Page.. 590 ..
I noted the comments from the scrutiny committee this morning. I thank the scrutiny committee for considering this bill in such a timely manner. I acknowledge the short time frame they were subjected to and that it is not ideal. I assure the scrutiny committee that from my point of view that must be the exception and not the norm. I acknowledge that timing issue, and I will speak to the substance of the committee’s comments when we come to the debate should this motion be agreed to.
Question resolved in the affirmative, with the concurrence of an absolute majority.
Crimes Legislation Amendment Bill 2017
Debate resumed from 14 February 2017, on motion by Mr Rattenbury:
That this bill be agreed to in principle.
MRS JONES (Murrumbidgee) (11.51): I stand today to speak to the Crimes Legislation Amendment Bill 2017. I understand that this bill retrospectively delegates functions of the Director-General of the JACS Directorate in relation to intensive correction orders to appropriate ACT Corrective Services staff. These are the staff who have responsibility for supervising offenders on intensive correction orders.
Because the minister did not know about this issue in a timely manner, there are offenders serving on ICOs who were under the direction of JACS staff who did not have the suitable authority. These JACS staff members were acting outside their scope. Some of the directions given on the intensive corrections orders include for drug tests and urine samples, all of which could be characterised as an invasion of one’s privacy if not authorised. These tests, for many offenders, ensure that offenders are compliant with the conditions of their sentence.
The question has to be asked: what impact would not passing this bill today have on corrections staff, on waiting a month, and on those on intensive corrections orders, which would have been the normal practice of this place? What would be the ramification for offenders who had tests administered on them by staff without the delegation to administer such tests?
There is no doubt that if an offender had not met the requirements of their intensive correction order by not undertaking the conditions of their sentence, had turned up a few months late, had said, “Look, it is just an administrative oversight that I was not here on time,” do you think that they would be given the same kind of leeway that we are affording the minister today? I do not think so. There would be a serious repercussion for them. They cannot just come in here and sweep that kind of a mess up. However, as a result of the minister’s incompetence, we have seen a situation where a number of JACS staff have been left operating outside the lawful delegation, and the minister has left those in his directorate somewhat exposed.
I was pleased to receive a last-minute briefing last Friday from the JACS Directorate, and I thank the minister for arranging it. However, I have not been able to completely ascertain all impacts of this debacle on the directorate or on those on intensive corrections orders, and thus questions remain.