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Parliamentary record : Part I debates (27 February 1990)



Parliamentary record : Part I debates (27 February 1990)


Debates for 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990




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Northern Territory Legislative Assembly

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Tuesday 27 February 1990 Mr SETTER (Jingili): Mr Speaker, it does not matter what the government attempts to do, particularly in a situation such as this, the member for MacDonnell will accuse us of window-dressing. Mr Bell: Window-dressing and paper shuffling. That could be an entry in the mixed metaphors competition this year. Mr SETTER: I am not sure that he would be one of the greatest advocates of providing compensation to the victims .of crime. We live in a society in which, increasingly, the perpetrators of crimes are expected to accept respon sibil ity for the fi nanci a 1 compen sat i on of those person s wronged by those crimes - in other words, the victims of crime. That is fine. I have no problem with that at all. If that is what the community wants, that is what the community will demand and get. However, let us not forget that, at the end of the day, it is the commun i ty that pays the bill. I agree wi th the member for Koolpinyah. It is high time that legislation was passed requiring the courts to insist that the perpetrators of crimes pay some compensation, either to the pool set up by the state or to victims. This bill establishes the Crime Victims Advisory Committee. Whilst I noticed that a couple of honourable members had some queries about how this committee will work, that is fairly clearly laid out in the bill. Clause 7 details the powers and functions of the committee and I am quite sure that, if the honourable members concerned would like to make further inquires and acquaint themselves with the regulations that will no doubt flow from these amendments, they will soon be able to put a finger on the finetuning of this bi 11 . I have a question about the wording of the bill. It talks about victims of crime and crime compensation, but what exactly is crime? To me, crime can be anything. I assume that, in this instance, we are talking about violent crime against a person or, in other words, some type of physical abuse. However, the bill does not say that. It simply talks of crime. To my mind, crime would encompass also crimes against property such as breaking and enteri ng, car theft and a whole range of thi ngs. I suggest that there may be need to c 1 a rify that the bill refers to phys i ca 1 crimes aga i nst persons. Through the Attorney-General, the government gave an undertaking to 'improve services to victims of crime ' and to 'examine ways of ensuring the criminal jUstice system takes more account of victims I rights and difficulties ' . There is no doubt that this bill fulfils that undertaking. I am sure that honourable members who have doubts and queries in their minds will fi nd that, once the committee is estab 1 i shed and funct i oni ng indue course, those doubts and queries will be put to rest. It is a sad fact that major disasters attract much more community attention than do crimes committed against individuals. We read about such crimes in the newspapers or see reports of them on television but, a couple of days later, it is all forgotten. However, the unfortunate victims continue to suffer when the community takes no further notice. One has only to compare the attention their situation receives with the coverage of the Newcastle earthquake disaster, which ran for weeks after the event, to understand what I mean. From reading the bill, I understand that the committee will consist of 11 persons. Clause 4 deals with the composition of the committee and I will not go through it again. One of, the responsibilities of the committee is to prepare victim impact statements. I understand from the minister's 8824