Page 4098 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 22 October 2019

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specifically address incidents where offenders use motor vehicles to harm police and emergency workers.

The bill provides that it will be an offence for a person to intentionally or recklessly drive near or at a police officers who are exercising functions as police officers. The driver must intend to risk or be reckless about risking the police officer’s safety by their conduct. The offence will attract a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment.

It will also be an offence to intentionally or recklessly ram police vehicles. Disturbingly, the ramming of police vehicles has been an emerging trend in the ACT, typically occurring in circumstances where drivers intentionally fail to comply with a police officer’s signal to pull over or when drivers attempt to avoid random breath testing. ACT Policing has indicated that some incidents have resulted in severe injuries to police officers.

Given the emergent practice and the vulnerable positions police officers are regularly placed in on our roads, it is appropriate for the community to specifically condemn driving behaviour that targets and exploits this vulnerability. These new offences will assist police and others to communicate that this practice will not be tolerated and may act to deter others from engaging in this unacceptable conduct.

In developing these reforms the government worked in close consultation with ACT Policing and emergency service agencies to understand how this new legislation will impact and assist police officers and other emergency workers.

The bill also requires offences to be reviewed within two years, following the commencement of the provisions, which is an opportunity to consider the impacts of the new legislation, including in relation to penalty provisions and the possible application of offences for other victims.

The bill addresses issues that are at their core about respect for public order and the right to live and work in a safe environment. The offences in the bill aim to deter violence against those who provide critical emergency services on behalf of the community. The bill also aims to ensure that there are appropriate consequences for offenders who choose to engage in violent conduct against police officers, firefighters and paramedics who are simply doing their job. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mrs Jones) adjourned to the next sitting.

Work Health and Safety Amendment Bill 2019

Debate resumed from 15 August 2019, on motion by Ms Stephen-Smith:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR WALL (Brindabella) (11.10): Madam Assistant Speaker Lee, welcome back. The Work Health and Safety Amendment Bill 2019 holds little surprise for the opposition. The bill provides a mechanism to enact a major recommendation out of the independent review of the ACT’s work safety compliance infrastructure, policies and procedures that was conducted by the Nous Group in August last year.

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