Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 14 Hansard (Tuesday, 28 November 2017) . . Page.. 5172 ..
MR RAMSAY (Ginninderra—Attorney-General, Minister for Regulatory Services, Minister for the Arts and Community Events and Minister for Veterans and Seniors) (5.54), in reply: Firstly, I would like to thank members for their contributions to this debate and for their support of this bill. I would also like to thank the scrutiny committee for its comments, and I foreshadow that I will be moving amendments that are partially in response to their comments.
This government is deeply concerned about the level of outlaw motorcycle gang activity in the territory. Our approach to address this problem must be operationally viable for ACT Policing, compliant with human rights and consistent with the criminal law in the territory. Most importantly, our approach must actually be effective in criminalising offenders and protecting our community.
Let me make this very clear: the government takes the issue of OMCG activity and organised crime very seriously. Organised crime is flexible, resourced and able to adapt in order to respond to efforts designed by lawmakers to thwart criminal activities.
The government understands that, as a community, we need to remain vigilant and work as part of the ongoing national effort to disrupt, disable and dismantle the activities of organised crime. We also need to support law reform proposals that address serious and organised crime in the ACT and ensure that our police have the necessary tools at their disposal to effectively deal with serious and organised crime entities.
To this end the Crimes (Police Powers and Firearms Offence) Amendment Bill 2017 amends the Crimes Act 1900 and introduces a specific offence expressly prohibiting drive-by shootings. It also provides police with crime scene powers in statute. This new offence is critically important in the fight against recent drive-by shootings in the ACT, and bridges an existing gap in the offence structure. Under the bill, a person who shoots at a building, including at a home, will now face 10 years imprisonment. Importantly, a particular person does not need to be the target of the shooting.
The new offence departs from the current offence structure under the Crimes Act, which requires the offender to discharge a loaded firearm at another person. The penalty for the new offence of drive-by shooting better reflects community expectations for this type of crime than what is currently captured by regulatory summary offences under the Firearms Act, where the maximum penalty is 12 months.
The bill also introduces statutory crime scene powers to enable police officers to secure a crime scene and preserve evidence in a timely manner. Police have limited statutory power to establish and control a crime scene in a public place or private premises under existing provisions of the law. While there are a number of common law powers to secure crime scenes, they are limited in scope. For example, a police officer has the power to enter premises without a warrant where the officer is pursuing an offender who enters the premises.