Page 1120 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 28 March 2017

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MR RAMSAY (Ginninderra—Attorney-General, Minister for Regulatory Services, Minister for the Arts and Community Events and Minister for Veterans and Seniors) (11.25), in reply: I thank members for their interest in and contributions to today’s debate, noting the importance of this particular bill and its provisions.

The Crimes Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 improves a range of criminal and regulatory legislation in the ACT. The bill carries ideas from the police, who investigate crimes and who enforce our laws. It responds to technical issues with criminal sentencing legislation that have been raised by legal professionals. It has some common-sense reforms regarding how the ACT’s strong firearms licensing regime works. Taken as a whole, this bill represents continuous improvement to our local laws. The government is always looking for ways to improve and always considering suggestions, both major and more modest, for reform.

The bill enhances investigation and oversight powers to support the ACT’s child sex offender registry. The child sex offender registration scheme serves an important community safety purpose, and the bill will improve ACT Policing’s powers to take action in relation to suspected breaches of the law by offenders. Amendments to the Crimes (Child Sex Offenders) Act 2005 will allow police officers to apply for an immediate entry and search warrant to investigate a child sex offender’s breach of a prohibition order.

As Ms Cheyne pointed out, in normal circumstances an officer must swear an affidavit to support a warrant under the legislation. Swearing an affidavit is a legal process that takes time. An officer can only get a warrant without swearing an affidavit if the officer wants to verify the offender’s details. The amendment in this bill will change the law so that this is extended to potential breaches of a prohibition order. An offender is subject to a prohibition order where they pose a risk to the lives or to the sexual safety of children. The amendment gives police officers and magistrates appropriate power to respond urgently where an offender may have breached a prohibition order.

The bill will also include reforms to the ACT’s sentencing legislation. These reforms will expand the options for making non-association and place restriction orders. They will improve the process for considering aggravated burglary and robbery charges, and provide a clean-up to the rules for cancelling parole orders. These changes are common-sense measures that will improve the criminal justice system overall.

As has been raised and discussed to some extent already, non-association and place restriction orders, or NAPROs, are already part of the ACT’s criminal sentencing laws. A NAPRO is a specific condition of a sentence that a person not associate with specific people or attend specified places. It is used in relation to intensive corrections orders and good behaviour bonds. Both of these sentences are served in the community. NAPROs support rehabilitation and protect the community by preventing an offender from getting themselves into situations that may encourage bad behaviour. These orders are an important part of the ACT’s community-based sentencing regime.

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