Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 19 September 2017) . . Page.. 3871 ..
That is a goal and a method that we should support.
I would like to thank those who have assisted in our consultations, including the Law Society, the Bar Association, the Human Rights Commission and the Victims of Crime Commissioner, as well as the Attorney-General’s office. During all those discussions, the most important consideration was the protection of victims. I trust that this law will assist all those who suffer from these sorts of crimes. As I said, the Canberra Liberals will be supporting this bill.
MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong) (11.52): The Greens will also be supporting the Crimes (Food or Drink Spiking) Amendment Bill 2017. And we will continue to support other efforts to increase safety for those enjoying Canberra nightlife, such as the CBR NightCrew program, which provides water and roving safety patrols in Civic to help keep Canberrans safe at night.
It is important that the community gets a strong message that spiking food or drink is not acceptable and is in fact a criminal offence. We know that it is hard to prove, especially if the spiking is with additional alcohol. That is why I am particularly pleased that the need to prove intent of further offending is not required, that it simply is an offence in and of itself to spike someone’s food or drink, regardless of whether there is an intention to assault or not, if harm is caused. Harm, for this purpose, includes an impairment of the senses or understanding that the person might reasonably be expected to object to in the circumstances. The definition of harm is broad, as perhaps it must be, to allow for a range of currently un-codified or disputed offences to be captured by the amendment.
Sometimes there is no intent on the part of the spiker or spikers to commit any further crime other than to see what the effect of the substances will be on the victim. Whilst this may be considered a prank, and most “prank spikers” would not consider their actions to be criminal or to constitute an assault or actual harm, this legislation provides for the possibility of prosecution if the spiking results in impairment or further impairment of the senses of the victim.
It is no surprise that four out of five, which is the vast majority, of victims of food or drink spiking are female. Spiking of drinks is a well-known tactic for the perpetration of sexual assault and/or date rape. Law enforcement agencies will also attest to the fact that a majority of cases or complaints brought to them do not usually involve illicit substances or these substances on their own; it is most usually a case of unwitting consumption of alcohol.
We have an obligation to ensure that we have effective prosecution and punishment of offenders, because their behaviour is simply unacceptable. This legislation protects an individual’s right to safety both in and outside of the home. With this legislation, it is clear that any drink spiking, whether with alcohol or other substances, with intent to cause harm will be a criminal offence.
In order to help the community understand these laws better, and to support people to understand that these are in fact quite serious offences with serious potential penalties,