Territory Stories

Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 28 March 2006



Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 28 March 2006

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Parliamentary Record 6


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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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES Tuesday 28 March 2006 1915 is $5500 or up to six months in the slammer. Very unlikely that the courts will send someone away for the offence, especially when there is strong negation. Thank goodness for the independence of the courts in spite of our attempts here today to limit their independence. However, at some point when this person who was convicted of an offence that carries a term of imprisonment wants to apply for a job and that requires a criminal history check, then they will be horrified to discover that they may lose their opportunity to work in that area when the prospective employer discovers that their new possible employee once faced gaol for an offence. I said earlier that prosecutorial convenience is not a ground for limiting peoples rights. We do this far too casually and I know that this issue is neither new nor high in the minds of government because it is too hard. The problem will come when there really will be a miscarriage of justice caused by our attempts to make prosecution easier. Madam Speaker, we do not support this bill because it has the capacity to be a bad law and to remove rights from people charged with offences that, in the most extreme cases, end up in gaol. We on this side of the House believe in due process for offences that put people in gaol. We hope that this government has the capacity to understand that due process sits in the heart of our civil system. To tamper with it is to invite peril. Mr WARREN (Goyder): Madam Speaker, about a month ago, I was sitting at one of my shopping centre stalls and one of my constituents came up to me claiming that, during last years goose shooting season, there were two occasions when shooting occurred in the Fogg Dam Nature Reserve within my electorate. I was quite taken aback by what he claimed. I thought, surely, this could not have happened. However, since then I have spoken to several of my constituents who claim irresponsible people are giving scant regard to our wildlife and our parks. Moreover, there is a good chance that their illegal activities will not be able to be brought to prosecution. After reading the background to these amendments to the act, I now understand why. At the moment, we rely on enforcement by prosecution only and to get a successful prosecution you have to prove intent. This takes much legal preparation. It is time-consuming and is quite often difficult to proceed through to prosecution. It is an administrative burden to our wildlife officers. Too often, these hoons get away, only to re-offend again. Unfortunately, it is our native wildlife which suffers. This was not what was intended and this is definitely not what any of us want. Our parks and reserves and, most importantly, our native flora and fauna, must be preserved. If it means that we need to make appropriate amendments to our act, then so be it. By moving to a regulatory enforcement system, we are being consistent with other Australian jurisdictions. This is a system that is working well in other states, and gives real bite to law enforcement by our wildlife officers. These officers will now be able to better regulate the activities that occur in our parks and reserves. Infringement notices will be issued on the spot for appropriate offences, negating the need for cumbersome legal processes where there is a clear breach of the wildlife regulations. The issue of on-the-spot fines will streamline the enforcement process and allow for immediate punishment of offences in our parks and reserves. It will definitely send a clear message to would-be offenders and encourage future compliance. It will also mean that minor breaches of the act will not need to proceed to prosecution through the existing rigid and cumbersome legal processes. They can, quite rightly, be dealt with by infringement notices. It will mean that, where a minor breach of the act has occurred, no longer will a prosecution automatically result in an offender being unable to gain a new permit for five years. A more equitable system, based on the severity of the offence, will apply. Permits will be issued which clearly and precisely inform the holders of what their obligations are and the conditions of the permit. This will further help with the regulatory compliance. I am very pleased the condition of the waterfowl hunting permit will require hunters to submit a return advising how many waterfowl species were hunted. This will help ensure our waterfowl numbers are sustainable, particularly for protected species like the magpie geese. Part of these amendments will ensure that there is consistency in the retention period for forfeited or seized articles, which will be set at 60 days. Currently, it can vary from 30 to 60 days, depending on whether they were seized under the act or under the by-laws. Despite what the member for Blain said, it is important to note that regulatory processes are operated effectively in other jurisdictions. It is not a case of two wrongs, or any wrongs; in fact, it is a matter of right following right, and I stand by that. Our parks and reserves are too valuable to put at risk. Our current reliance on outdated and cumbersome legal processes for the full enforcement of the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act and its by-laws is clearly not serving the purpose. That purpose is to protect our native flora and fauna. These amendments will ensure our native fauna and flora are protected through streamlined and efficient regulatory