Statutes Amendment (Recidivist and Repeat Offenders) Bill 2017

Ms CHAPMAN (Bragg—Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (17:04): I rise to speak on the Statutes Amendment (Recidivist and Repeat Offenders) Bill 2017. Before I move to the substance of the bill, I indicate that the Attorney-General has put a request to the opposition to consider this bill as a matter of urgency, in particular to agree to the expeditious passage of this bill in the House of Assembly. If passed, I presume in an expeditious manner in the other place within the next few weeks, it will have the effect of ensuring one of the aspects of this bill, which relates to the capacity either to detain or continue under supervision a person who is currently in custody and deal with them in a manner that is preferable to what would occur if there was no passage of this legislation.

It does not, apparently, relate to all aspects of this bill, but it does relate to one aspect. I do not think it is necessary for me to go into it, but essentially the passage of this bill will ultimately enable the Supreme Court, on application, to make a decision to extend the supervision and/or detention of a person, which would apply to this case. I do not think it is necessary for me to go into the particulars of this case. If it does become necessary, it will be a matter we will raise in another place.

There are circumstances from time to time when we are presented with a request from the government that suggests some urgency, that we need to take on good faith that the clear and present danger is there if the matter is not dealt with expeditiously and have our support to deal with it; sometimes, that is obvious. It might be in relation to quickly remedying a defect. Sometimes, it may be to protect, as we have done with vulnerable witnesses just recently. Sometimes, it is to deal with legislation, such as an agreement for terrorism matters and things of that nature. We do accede to this from time to time.

We take that information on good faith. This is a case where we are prepared to do that, but it is with the clear proviso that we reserve the right to raise issues about this in another place and on the understanding that, notwithstanding the imminent aspects of this that require attention and abridged assessment in this house, we will be given a full briefing on this bill and the whole of the implementation of its effect and that we have an opportunity to at least consult with immediate players.

In short, as the government provided a copy of the Attorney-General's second reading contribution during question time today, in between other important business I have tried to absorb essentially what the bill will do. I think it is fair to say that it will extend the application of persons who have been sentenced, and their head sentence concluded, to enable serious repeat adult offenders and/or recidivist young offenders under 18 years of age to have a new process, firstly, to enable a court order to be made to ensure that there is a relief from what was otherwise a requirement under proportionality of offence and, secondly, to enable ongoing supervision. All that is on court application. They are matters we will obviously consider in substantial debates later on.

The other aspect is to extend the Criminal Law (High Risk Offenders) Act to enable the application of this regime to more than just sexual offences but to all serious offences. That is how I am reading it generally at this point. There will also be an expansion of a category of offenders in that regard to deal with the presumption against release on bail. So we have certain regimes in place. They are going to be amended.

They are clearly going to be expanded to accommodate children in certain circumstances and a broader range of offences that can have the trigger of giving access to the Criminal Law (High Risk Offenders) Act procedures. Members should be aware that the high risk offenders act does not apply to youths at this point. Earlier this week, we considered legislation in respect of reform in terrorism, and the government foreshadowed application of the reforms in that regard to 16 and 17 year olds. We have already indicated that we would agree in those circumstances that it is reasonable that they be incorporated.

So there are circumstances, notwithstanding all the other debates this week about other matters, where we accept on this side of the house that 16 and 17 year olds, in discrete circumstances and in respect of discrete offences, need special consideration. There may well be a case for the process that we have employed in recent years for adults that is applicable to some youths in certain circumstances. We will obviously look at that in some detail.

One of the things that became clear was that the bill is also to apply to enable the Supreme Court on these applications to provide an interim order. I cannot remember when we debated the principal act on this whether or not that was allowed, but I suspect for the purposes of the urgency in this matter that the amendments to enable the Supreme Court to make an interim order may be a valuable tool that will be relied upon in respect of the matter that has been raised with us.

It is a unique set of circumstances that has been put to us. We have taken it on face value; we take it in good faith that the matter is necessary and can be protected by the amendments in this act and that it is necessary in the interests of the safety of the community that we do that. It may be that on further consideration there are alternative options for the matters that have been put to us, and we will explore those between the houses. But we are certainly not of a mind to frustrate what has been presented to us as an urgent situation.

The two things that are important in the course of the adjournment between the houses is firstly to have a briefing. Certainly, we would like to have a briefing. I foreshadow to the government that that can be made preferably next week at some time. Obviously there are only four business days in that week, and we expect that being school holidays some advisers may have commitments, but we would like that to be next week.

Secondly, as the new processes are proposed to deal with the Parole Board and the Training Centre Review Board in respect of conditions that it be set under the new regimes, I seek that the briefing include representatives from those entities. I am assuming at this point that these bodies have been consulted already in respect of the drafting of this bill. I have no idea at this stage what the gestation period for the development of this bill was, or whether in fact it was prepared over a period of time following its usual course, but the advance of a particular case has brought it to the urgent attention of the parliament.

It is quite a comprehensive reform and it appears to cover matters that go beyond the circumstances, at least in the abbreviated details I have been given, of this case. I suspect that there have been aspects of this bill that should have been under consideration for some time in a general reform consideration. I may be wrong, and perhaps the briefing will elicit that. On that basis, I indicate that I would like the Attorney's commitment, in response, to ensure that we are given expeditious and comprehensive briefings, that we have representatives of those parties I have indicated and that I have a list of parties that the government have consulted or will be consulting on this in the next two weeks. I assume that this acquiescence will be followed by a listing in the Legislative Council on or about 17 October.