Page 1114 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 28 March 2017
warrant to enter premises when they reasonably believe a person is breaching or will likely breach a prohibition order. This is essentially correcting an oversight in the act, as police can already seek such an order to verify an offender’s details.
We agree with the amendments which ensure a parole order will not be cancelled unless a breaching offence is committed by a parolee while the parole order is in force. The amendments to the Firearms Act simply ensure that courts can order the disposal of seized firearms. They also ensure that if a person is to be charged for being under the influence of alcohol or drugs while possessing a firearm they have to have it in their actual physical possession; and they clarify that a firearms dealer can test a firearm on property other than the registered premises.
We also agree with the amendment to provide statutory alternative verdicts for aggravated burglary and aggravated robbery. These are useful, of course, for ensuring offenders still receive a conviction for criminal behaviour when the exact requirements of particular offences may not have been made out but, nevertheless, there was still criminal behaviour.
Let me turn to the issue of NAPROs and consorting, which Mr Hanson has already made some comments on today as well. I want to make clear that the ACT Greens are not satisfied with the proposed amendments to expand the offences for which a court can place a non-association and place restriction order, or a NAPRO, on an individual. These are problematic amendments, in our view.
As the name suggests, NAPROs are court orders that prevent a convicted person associating with a certain person or visiting a certain place. Before changes were made last year, which the Greens did oppose at that time, NAPROs could only be used in relation to a personal violence offence, and that was all. This made sense. The original laws were designed to serve this function. Violence often occurs in the context of relationships, and a court may decide a person is still under threat of violence. So they order that the offender cannot go near a victim or their residence, like a variation of an AVO or a DVO.
The government has now altered the NAPRO scheme to be something quite different. NAPROs can now be used in relation to a whole range of offences: drug offences, property offences, administration of justice offences and ancillary offences such as conspiracy and attempt. Perhaps most troubling is the fact that NAPROs can also be used for any other offence that is prescribed by regulation. This change occurred in the context of a discussion about outlaw motorcycle gangs and serious organised crime. The change to the NAPRO rules was, it seems to me, an attempt to stretch an existing law so that ostensibly it can also be used as a tool for combating organised crime.
I do not think this was a good change and I do not think it was sound policy or sound law-making. It is now a different and broader type of law. Obviously NAPROs are also orders that restrict people’s freedom to move and associate, even though they would not ordinarily be committing any crime through these associations or visitations.