Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 19 September 2017) . . Page.. 3877 ..
lookout for someone who wrongs them; yet, for now, we have to. But there is work that the government can do to try to effect cultural change.
For the range of reasons I have described, it is important that our legal and justice frameworks are equipped to deter and punish perpetrators who spike another person’s food or drink. Currently, we are relying on a patchwork of criminal offences to pursue a case of food or drink spiking, and different offences apply depending on the circumstances of each case. For example, which offence a person is charged with could depend on the intoxicating substance used and whether or not the victim’s life was endangered. This leads to inconsistency in how spiking cases are prosecuted and the penalties that are applied.
The bill will resolve this issue by introducing new offences specifically targeting food and drink spiking, and, as Minister Rattenbury said, in and of itself. The bill introduces two new offences for food or drink spiking. These two new offences are, broadly stated, to ensure that they can be applied to all cases of improper food or drink spiking. If a person gives you or causes you to consume food or drink which, unbeknownst to you, contains an intoxicating substance, and that person intends to cause you harm, they can be prosecuted. And “harm” does not just mean physical injury. If that substance would impair your senses to an extent that you would reasonably be expected to object to, the offence is made out.
Equally, if a person gives you or causes you to consume food or drink which contains more of an intoxicating substance than you would reasonably expect, and that person intends to cause you harm, they can be prosecuted. This covers the case where your beer has been spiked to contain more alcohol than it should and the person doing so intended to cause you harm. It is not necessary for the harm to actually occur. It is not necessary for you to actually consume the intoxicant. If someone tries to spike your food or drink and does it so that they can cause you harm, and they intend to cause you harm, they have committed an offence and they will be liable to 500 penalty units, five years imprisonment, or both.
Clearly, spiking food or drink is a very serious issue. The physical, emotional and psychological harm that it can cause to a victim who has been made to feel vulnerable or suffered a further crime while intoxicated cannot be overstated. Some people may spike another person’s drink for a prank, but it is no laughing matter. To be made to lose control and become vulnerable to harm as a victim of food or drink spiking is nothing short of horrendous.
This bill ensures that our legal system is equipped to prosecute food and drink spiking no matter the location, substance or victim, or the harm that occurs. If you spike food or drink and do so for the purpose of harming another person, there is no doubt about it—you are a criminal.
MR STEEL (Murrumbidgee) (12.14): I rise today to speak in support of the Crimes (Food or Drink Spiking) Amendment Bill 2017, which introduces new offences criminalising food and drink spiking in the ACT and associated penalties. Through this bill the government is acting to make sure that Canberra’s nightlife is a safer place for all Canberrans. We are addressing an identified gap in the criminal law and