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Monday, 30 August 2004
Page: 26632


Senator GREIG (1:55 PM) —I move Democrat amendment (1):

(1) Schedule 1, item 1, page 24 (line 24), at the end of subsection 474.17(1), add:

“; and (c) another person is menaced, harassed or offended by the use of the carriage service.”

This amendment goes to the heart of what I was speaking about in my contribution to the second reading debate in relation to the elements of the offence of using a carriage service to menace, harass or offend. As I stated then, we Democrats are concerned that there is no requirement that anyone is actually menaced, harassed or offended, and only that a reasonable person would regard the use of the carriage service as being in all the circumstances menacing, harassing or offensive.

This leaves the quite ridiculous situation where what might appear to look like stalking to any reasonable person, and therefore liable to prosecution under this section, could actually be welcome communication on the part of the recipient. We Democrats accept the Attorney-General's argument that this offence would be difficult to prosecute, but we do not believe that is any reason to pass bad law, particularly when the problem can be fixed so readily. This Democrat amendment makes a minor change to section 474.17(1) to make it a requirement that another person is actually menaced, harassed or offended by the use of the carriage service. I understand that the government and the minister seem to be arguing that the amendment is not necessary, but I ask the minister to explain to the Senate what would be wrong with amending the bill in this way and why the bill would not be able to go forward in a reasonable way because of the amendment. For example, would it result in some wild deviation from the intent of the legislation? We do not believe so. This amendment is simple and it ought to be uncontentious. We Democrats believe that it does improve the legislation, and I commend it to the Senate.