Debates Day 5 - Wednesday 17 October 2007
Parliamentary Record 17
Debates for 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; Parliamentary Record; ParliamentNT
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES Wednesday 17 October 2007 4843 We should take a positive note from this and send a message back that if people do have a problem when they arrive here - and we know many of these people come from war-torn situations, which are not the same as when you have migrants coming to this country - they have difficulty settling into a different culture. They come into a life that is relatively peaceful. It is a whole new world to them. What we should be doing is ensuring that mechanisms are there to continually support these people when they come to this country and help these people settle in, especially those coming from war-torn countries where they have been subject to great grief and trauma, their lives have been turned upside down and they have been separated from their families in many cases. We should be looking at helping these people come to Australia, not hindering them. Mr HENDERSON (Multicultural Affairs): Madam Speaker, I genuinely thank the opposition, the Independents and all members of this House. It is a significant moment. We will find a way of doing something together so we can get back to our Africa community here in the Northern Territory which has been so very genuinely hurt and dismayed by these comments, to show that the Northern Territory parliament and the people of the Northern Territory do support them. I genuinely thank the Leader of the Opposition for her comments. Reports noted pursuant to standing orders. POLICE ADMINISTRATION AMENDMENT BILL (Serial 97) Bill presented and read a first time. Ms MARTIN (Police, Fire and Emergency Services): Madam Speaker, I move that the bill be now read a second time. I am pleased to introduce this bill into the House today. There are 23 specific amendments. At this point, I stress that this bill is not a major review of the act and, for the most part, it does not reform the law. Rather, these amendments have arisen through operational demands or become necessary following the introduction of new technologies such as in the case with the amendment to replace tape recorded confessions with digital recordings. The original Police Administration Act commenced operation on 1 August 1979 and has gone through a number of significant amendments since then. Some of those amendments, such as amendments to forensic examination procedures, come from scientific advancements or through changing circumstances of the law. Alternatively, amendments to Parts 4, 5 and 6 of the act came about from a need to introduce a more formalised scheme for a hearing of a charge of breach of discipline or inability. As with most legislation, changing times and procedures means acts need to be continuously reviewed and amended to ensure they continue meeting their objectives. This is probably more important with the Police Administration Act because of the role of police and the law enforcement functions they perform. To achieve this, the act sets out powers of police to enable them to do their job efficiently and effectively while still, nevertheless, being held accountable and transparent. This House, therefore, must remain vigilant, ensuring the act does not disadvantage the police from preventing crime, or investigating and prosecuting those persons whose criminal behaviour offends the public law. With those introductory words, I turn to specific parts of the bill. I do not intend to address each clause. Rather, I will focus on the more significant amendments. I turn to the first amendment which overcomes an inconsistency between the act and the Bail Act in relation to the period of detention of an intoxicated offender. Currently, if an intoxicated person is in police custody following their arrest, police employ the long-standing practice of detaining the person until they are no longer intoxicated before charging them with the relevant offence. There are a number of reasons for delaying the charging of the person. First, police owe a duty of care to the person and, if a person is charged and bailed in an intoxicated state, police might breach their duty if a person was injured or killed following their release. Second, the person must be informed of the nature of the charges and their rights to bail. Obviously, police would be unable to comply with the obligation if the offender was too intoxicated to understand the charges or their rights to bail or their review of bail. Generally, once police have concluded their questioning or investigations, the law requires the offender to be either released or charged and bailed, or brought before a Justice as soon as practicable. In addition, where, for example, a person is arrested for driving under the influence, section 137 of the Police Administration Act may not apply because there may not be a need for police to conduct further investigations or questioning. On those occasions, any continued detention would be unlawful. The only power available to the police is to delay the determination of bail on the grounds that the person is intoxicated. However, strict time limits apply.