Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 14 Hansard (Tuesday, 28 November 2017) . . Page.. 5166 ..
Crimes (Police Powers and Firearms Offence) Amendment Bill 2017
Debate resumed from 31 October 2017, on motion by Mr Ramsay:
That this bill be agreed to in principle.
MR HANSON (Murrumbidgee) (5.34): The Canberra Liberals will be supporting this bill. We have been long-term supporters, in fact we have been the champions, of giving police the tools that they need to deal with crime in our city, especially serious and organised crime, and we have long been calling for this issue to be taken seriously and for powers to be given to police to deal with these issues.
We have looked at this bill and we agree that it does add to the suite of tools that the police will have at their disposal. We will support the bill. But we do so with an important note of caution, which I will expand on towards the end of my speech.
Firstly, going to the bill itself, it creates powers for police in two important areas that recent incidents have shown are lacking in legal protection under the current laws. One is the activity known as drive-by shootings. The other is crime scene powers to assist the police on the spot when incidents occur. I will briefly look at each of those before concluding.
With regard to drive-by shootings, we have seen an increase in incidents across our suburbs which are really acts of indiscriminate and extreme violence in our streets. I have noted some of the reports previously but they are worth repeating in this context. These are just the headlines: “Three cars torched, shots fired in Kambah”, “Bikie shooting: 27 shots fired at house in Canberra on Tuesday night”, “Bullets fired into home next to childcare centre” and “Isabella Plains shooting the third Canberra bikie shooting in two weeks”. There are many more, and I have read them in this place before.
While there are laws which, until the bikie turf war erupted in this territory, had been sufficient, that is not the case anymore. Furthermore, there are evident gaps in the current law, such as the fact that a person needs to be present and fearful in a building for existing laws to have full effect.
With this new wave of violence, we need laws to meet these threats. This is recognised in the bill. The offence is punishable by a maximum of 10 years imprisonment, which is the same penalty as for similar acts endangering life. This new provision does meet this gap in the law, and we will support it.
With regard to crime scene powers, the police currently have no express statutory power to establish and control a crime scene in a public place or a private premises. The explanatory statement provides a graphic example of the need for this legislation from a real life incident. I invite members to read that. It is illustrative of the problem that is faced by the police.