Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 23 August 2017) . . Page.. 3263 ..
involve a power imbalance between the offender and the victim that can result in victims being emotionally or physically threatened for pursuing cases through the courts. Finally, some victims can even be financially dependent on their offenders, making them disinclined to pursue charges against offenders. This is where it is important to have specialist domestic violence prosecutors who know how to best manage these challenges. It is a very welcome addition to the ACT DPP that they now have this specialist domestic violence unit.
Finally, I would like to speak about the importance of the welfare of prosecutors. In estimates, the DPP expressed concerns about the workload of individual prosecutors. I note these concerns, and imagine that the review that the Attorney-General has undertaken will canvass these issues. Going to court is rarely a joyful experience. Whilst TV shows make criminal law sound very exciting and a tad glamorous, the subject matter prosecutors have to work with every day can be, I can only imagine, very emotionally taxing. Prosecutors can be subject to immense pressure from victims, witnesses and even the media to achieve a particular outcome in court. It is important that when we talk about resources for the DPP we are also talking about the resources available to staff for their welfare.
I would like to thank Mr Hanson for bringing this issue to the attention of the Assembly. I would also like to thank the Attorney-General for the work he has already undertaken in this area. The Greens look forward to the attorney updating the Assembly later in the year on the review of DPP resourcing and the conclusions that he and the government have drawn from that.
MR HANSON (Murrumbidgee) (4.38): In closing, and on the amendment, I thank the Attorney-General and Mr Rattenbury for their contributions. It does seem—I hope I am right in the way I am interpreting what the Attorney-General was saying, but certainly this is how I am interpreting Mr Rattenbury—that there is an understanding that the DPP is having trouble doing its job. This is based on evidence that came before the estimates committee this year but, as I said in my tabling motion, it has been the case over successive years. If that is the understanding of the Attorney-General—and, hopefully, also of Mr Rattenbury, cabinet and the government—that is a good thing. I would note, though, that the sort of response that “We are sitting down; we are going to consult with the DPP” and so on is language we have heard before. This issue has come up in various estimates reports. It has been the subject of debate with regard to the budget.
I do not support the amendment, because I think it is simply more weasel words, but I would say that I will put the Attorney-General on notice. He said he is going to sit down with the DPP and have a review. If that is going to result in additional resources, that is a good thing. We will have annual reports hearings this year, Attorney-General. We will have an estimates committee next year. There is a JACS committee in this place that can conduct inquiries and so on. It will be a matter for you to determine the next course of action the opposition takes. If we do not get a response, if there is no substantive action, we will be back and we will continue to litigate this case. And we will turn up the volume on it. I assure you that we will turn up the volume on it, because it is unsatisfactory.