Page 5167 - Week 14 - Tuesday, 28 November 2017
The bill provides for a statutory process for establishing a crime scene with consent. Those sections appear not to be contentious. The bill also allows some extra search abilities for those at or leaving a crime scene, giving an example of an incident where a person who had discharged a pistol attempted to leave a scene. Clearly this needs to be addressed. It needs to be addressed not only because of the increase in crime in our suburbs and the types being committed but also because of the types of people committing those crimes.
However, in addressing the issue we must always have regard to the extent of the laws and to unintended consequences. It is here that the Canberra Liberals are raising a serious and considered note of caution on the operation of this bill. The Law Society of the ACT and the ACT Bar Association have put in a detailed, considered submission raising serious concerns about the level of operation of these laws. I acknowledge their input and put on the record these concerns.
While several sections are raised, their principal concern is the threshold at which these powers can be applied. That threshold is set in the bill where it defines a “serious offence” as including one with a maximum penalty of five years or longer. The ACT Law Society and the Bar Association have argued that this is too low and that many offences may fall into this category:
… pretty well all the offences in the Crimes Act 1900 (excluding common assaults), all offences against the person committed in a domestic violence context (including common assaults) and offences committed in another jurisdiction that meet the definition of serious offence.
They put forward, correctly and appropriately, that protections are validly required to protect citizens from arbitrary invasion of privacy or property. They also raise the valid concern that misuse could have a perverse effect, stating that it could “greatly and unnecessarily escalate the scope for conflict between the police and our citizens”.
These are valid and important concerns. I acknowledge them and the work being done by the legal profession on raising these issues. I think that in that context it would be valuable to have their submission tabled. I seek leave to table the submission from the Bar Association and the ACT Law Society to form part of this debate.
MR HANSON: I table the following paper:
Crimes (Police Powers and Firearms Offence) Amendment Bill 2017—Copy of letter from the President, ACT Bar Association and the President, ACT Law Society, to the Attorney-General, dated 21 November 2017.
We note the legal profession’s concerns. We also acknowledge that the government has taken some of those concerns on board and has moved its own amendments. The amendment circulated by the Attorney-General includes some minor amendments relating to owners and occupiers but also, importantly, the inclusion of a review provision after 12 months of operation of the new powers. The amendment provides