Monday, 24 September 2012

I speak in support of the Crimes Legislation Amendment Bill 2012 which aims to improve the efficiency and operation of our State's criminal laws. Our legal system must continually be looking to progress and adapting to a changing society, and an essential part of this is enacting efficient and productive reforms. This is particularly relevant when it comes to criminal legislation that directly affects the wellbeing of our society. This Government understands that the safety of the community is paramount, and as a responsible Government we must do all we can to protect vulnerable individuals, families and young people.


The bill aims to amend Acts that regulate a number of crimes relating to kidnapping, sensitive evidence, guardianship, the signing of certificates, serious sex offences, young offenders and sporting venues. Furthermore, this Act also contains provisions to repeal certain legislation. The Government is delivering on its commitment to provide fair and due process to all individuals by proposing in this bill to amend the Crimes Act 1900 and abolish any common law rule preventing a person from being found guilty of an offence involving failure to disclose a crime committed by their wife, husband or de facto partner. This ensures that we prioritise society's interest in providing just outcomes for all and protecting those from harm who may otherwise be at risk.


This bill also allows us to protect vulnerable individuals within and outside their homes. Domestic and personal violence have the capacity to seriously affect an individual's safety, mental and physical health, and wellbeing. Emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, intimidation and harassment are all forms of violence of which, more often than not, those least capable of defending themselves find themselves at greatest risk of being victims. Children, young people and women are groups that are most affected by violence. A key concern when individuals are subjected to such violence is safety; and as a socially aware Government, it is our responsibility to ensure that they can successfully access the safety they need. An essential part of this is the ability of an individual to seek an apprehended violence order. If an individual is experiencing violence, being stalked or living in fear of assault or harassment, an apprehended violence order is an essential element of the protection from harm that we can provide.


Furthermore, we are ensuring that young people are safeguarded from serious sexual offences by those with whom they normally have a close relationship or live. This bill amends the Crimes Act 1900 to expand the offence of unlawful sexual intercourse where the victim is between 16 and 18 years of age and under the "special care" of the offender to include circumstances where the offender is the de facto partner of a parent, foster parent or guardian of the victim. I am proud to speak in support of this bill. It is part of the Government's comprehensive plan of action to take a firm stand against crime in our State and ensure that New South Wales remains a leader in crime reduction.