Crimes Amendment (Prosecution of Certain Offences) Bill 2023

Crimes Amendment (Prosecution of Certain Offences) Bill 2023

(Second Reading Debate & Consideration in Detail, 29 November 2023, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)

I contribute to debate on the Crimes Amendment (Prosecution of Certain Offences) Bill 2023. I do so with a great deal of conflict. I understand the reasons why the Government is introducing the bill and the amendments it has made. I also understand the concerns raised by the shadow Attorney General and the member for Newtown. I then have my own concerns about the current situation for a lot of LGBTQI people, particularly within the trans and gender-diverse community, who are regularly targeted in online forums and public meetings and gatherings, and who I believe violence is incited against. However, representatives of hate crime groups have also indicated that the current provisions, which require everything to go through the DPP, create a barrier towards action.

I also have a great deal of concern about providing police with new powers that could be weaponised. In his reply, I ask that the Attorney General address the concerns raised by the member for Wahroonga in terms of frivolous or vexatious uses of the powers, or members of the general public being able to weaponise those provisions. He should also address what provisions the DPP has in place to prevent that from occurring, or what other aspects of the associated legislation prevent that from occurring. From discussions I have had with Government members, I understand that it will be proceeding with a statutory review of this provision, which provides the opportunity to iron out the concerns raised by the Opposition and The Greens. I also welcome any further inquiries within the Parliament.

I understand the need for the legislation from the Government's perspective. I understand the concerns of the Opposition and The Greens. I also understand the need to undertake reform in this space, because we are not seeing action in terms of the protection of vulnerable communities that need to be protected by the Act. I think it is acknowledged by the Government and others that the current process creates an unnecessary delay, which can then facilitate further hate, abuse and attacks. I have certainly seen that impact my community and other parts of the LGBTIQ community. Knowing that there will be a statutory review, I feel comfortable in supporting the bill with that amendment. In his reply, I ask that the Attorney General to address the concerns that the shadow Attorney General raised.

Consideration in Detail, Amendments: 

I thank the Government for moving the amendment, which follows the discussions we have had with it. As the member for Newtown outlined in her contribution to the second reading debate, it would have been useful to have some detailed consultation before we dealt with this legislation. Let us hope the statutory review process will enable that to happen and help to provide answers to the questions that the shadow Attorney General raised.

I have a certain level of discomfort in limiting the prosecutions to just the Director of Public Prosecutions and police. I think we will see in the coming weeks when the Special Commission of Inquiry into LGBTQ hate crimes findings come out that there are historic issues with empowering the police as one of the only entities who can look into this type of criminal activity, and there can be a lack of trust. Potentially the special commission of inquiry may help to inform the statutory review of the Act. It is an important step. Let us hope it helps to address the concerns that have been raised tonight. I thank the Attorney General for moving the amendment.

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