Legislative Assembly by pengxiuhui


									                                          Legislative Assembly
                                            Wednesday, 9 April 2008

THE DEPUTY SPEAKER (Ms D.J. Guise) took the chair at 12 noon, and read prayers.
                                              PAPERS TABLED
Papers were tabled and ordered to lie upon the table of the house.
               Member for Hillarys — Extension of Time to Speak to Report — Notice of Motion
Mr J.C. Kobelke (Leader of the House) gave notice that at the next sitting of the house he would move —
         That so much of standing orders be suspended as is necessary to allow the member for Hillarys, who
         was Chairman of the Community Development and Justice Standing Committee’s subcommittee
         undertaking an inquiry into the prosecution of assaults and sexual offences, to speak for an additional
         10 minutes to the committee’s report, which will be tabled on Thursday, 10 April 2008.
                                ROAD TRAFFIC AMENDMENT BILL 2008
                                          Notice of Motion to Introduce
Notice of motion given by Mr J.C. Kobelke (Minister for Community Safety).
                                              Statement by Premier
MR A.J. CARPENTER (Willagee — Premier) [12.03 pm]: This morning, with Senator Hon Kim Carr,
Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, I had the honour of welcoming 130 delegates from
around the world to the inaugural International Square Kilometre Array Forum, being held in Perth. I was able to
convey to them Western Australia’s enthusiasm for and commitment to world-class radioastronomy. Minister
Carr and I signalled to the world our unified and collaborative approach to Australia’s bid to secure the world’s
largest radioastronomy project—the SKA project—for Australia. In fact, SKA will be the largest science project
of the twenty-first century.
The distinguished audience comprised world-renowned radioastronomers, physicists, government science
officials and representatives of hi-tech industries from countries such as the United Kingdom, France, The
Netherlands, South Africa, Italy, Germany, the United States, Canada, China and, of course, Australia.
The SKA initiative involves 19 countries coming together to find a way to collaborate and build a scientific
instrument that all will use to answer some of the most important and puzzling scientific questions of our time.
These discoveries will truly advance our understanding of the universe and will cause the development of new
technologies that will have unimagined applications.
Australia has a very proud tradition of research and discovery in astronomy. I am sure that members of the house
are aware that one of the primary reasons for James Cook’s first voyage was astronomical discovery. The
Australian Constitution explicitly mentions the science of astronomy. Some of the earliest important work in the
field of radioastronomy occurred in Australia as far back as the 1950s, and that work continues. Combine that
tradition with one of the world’s best places—if not the best place—to conduct radioastronomy, and mix in our
formidable track record in innovation and international collaboration, and one can see that Western Australia
offers to the world’s scientists an irresistible opportunity.
Four hundred years ago next year, Galileo looked into his telescope and observed a crescent-shaped Venus, the
moons around Jupiter and the rings around Saturn. The world’s view of the solar system changed and the
Enlightenment was born. Forty years ago next year, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon, and
Australian receiving stations and telescopes participated in that historic event.
Four years from now, the 19 nations represented at this conference today will decide where to build the most
powerful radio telescope in the world. Today, we argued forcefully and demonstrated practically why that choice
should be Australia and why Western Australia in particular should become synonymous with world-class
science and some of the most important discoveries of our time in astronomy and cosmology.
I congratulate the member for Geraldton for the pivotal role that he has played on behalf of Western Australia
and Australia in taking our case to the world.
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                          HIV — TRANSMISSION FROM MOTHER TO CHILD
                                               Statement by Premier
MR A.J. CARPENTER (Willagee — Premier) [12.06 pm]: This morning, members may have heard media
stories about a great medical news story worth celebrating and marking here in this house of the Parliament of
Western Australia.
We have in Western Australia a number of internationally renowned HIV experts. These are both at our
academic institutions and in our Department of Health. They are involved in both fundamental research, such as
that undertaken by Prof Simon Mallal and his team at Murdoch University, and in significant public health
efforts, such as by people in our Department of Health. I am pleased to communicate to this house that one of
our WA teams of HIV experts has reported a 100 per cent success rate in stopping the transmission of the disease
between infected mothers and their unborn babies. In Western Australia, among women identified as having
HIV, and receiving treatment, there have been no cases of HIV transmission from mother to child in the past 14
years. The significance of this cannot be underestimated, and we need only think of the HIV situation faced by
mothers and their children in African states to understand how powerful this work in Western Australia is and
can be in the future. Much of the success is due to the work of the Rural and Remote Immunology Service, and I
want to make particular mention of Royal Perth Hospital clinical immunology nurse Allison Cain, who
coordinates the program, and Professor Martyn French, who heads the program, assisted by Dr Patricia Martinez
and Dr Ronan Murray.
Of the 56 pregnancies in women identified as having HIV, 22 cases were Indigenous women. This finding
speaks strongly of the pivotal role of preventive care and active engagement in treatment. It should spur us on to
continue our efforts with other preventable health conditions and should inspire us to believe that by
implementing great science and medicine, coupled with the personal commitment and dedication of our health
professionals, we can and do make a difference for some of the most vulnerable members of our population and
the population of other nations around the world.
                                     AUSTRALIAN SAILING MUSEUM
                                          Statement by Minister for Peel
MR D.A. TEMPLEMAN (Mandurah — Minister for Peel) [12.09 pm]: I inform the house that the Australian
Sailing Museum, incorporating the America’s Cup Museum, was opened to the public on 7 April 2008 by the
Governor General of Australia. The museum is located on the boardwalk at the gateway to the Mandurah Ocean
A major feature of the museum is the Rolly Tasker Collection, the first and only complete set of fine art
illustrations of all the yachts that have sailed for the America’s Cup through its history. The display also includes
a scale model of each challenger and defender of the America’s Cup since 1851; the history of the America’s
Cup; and life-size wax figures of famous skippers, owners, architects and commodores. This fantastic museum is
a credit to the vision and energy of local resident Rolly Tasker and his wife, who own much of the sailing
collection. Rolly is a member of Sport Australia Hall of Fame and is considered to be one of Australia’s finest
yachtsmen. His outstanding achievements include building his own boats, being Australia’s first yachting
Olympic medal winner and winning every race on the Western Australian yachting calendar more than once. He
often set records in these races, some of which he still holds. Rolly became a Member of the Order of Australia
in 2006 for his services to sailing.
The museum collection includes 132 scale models of each class of yacht to reach fleet status in Australia since
1861, the history of sailing in Australia, a sailing hall of fame, Olympic sailing heroes and many pieces of
marine art. The complex also includes an alfresco cafe. Rolly Tasker’s unique investment in Mandurah and the
Peel region is a world-class facility that will attract visitors, not only yachtspersons. The museum is expected to
bring many local, national and international visitors to Mandurah and the Peel region. I recommend to members
that they make the trip to Mandurah, preferably by train, to visit the Australian Sailing Museum.
                            EQUAL OPPORTUNITY AMENDMENT BILL 2008
                                          Introduction and First Reading
Bill introduced, on motion by Mr J.A. McGinty (Attorney General), and read a first time.
Explanatory memorandum presented by the Attorney General.
                                                  Second Reading
MR J.A. McGINTY (Fremantle — Attorney General) [12.11 pm]: I move —
         That the bill be now read a second time.
The Equal Opportunity Amendment Bill amends the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 to extend coverage of that act
to sexual harassment by members of Parliament. The government believes that sexual harassment is
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unacceptable and that sexual harassment by members of Parliament should be unlawful. Under the bill, proposed
section 24(2A) will provide that it is unlawful for a member of Parliament to harass sexually an officer appointed
to assist the member of the Parliament; an officer appointed to assist another member of Parliament; an officer or
member of the staff of Parliament; or any other person who in the course of employment performs duties at the
Parliament or at a place where either house, or a committee of either or both houses, meets. Officers appointed to
assist members of Parliament would include electorate officers and research officers.
This bill is not intended to limit the operation of other provisions of the act. Proposed section 24(2A) specifically
provides that it does not limit section 24(1) of the act. Proposed section 24(3A) describes the conduct by an MP
that constitutes sexual harassment. Under the current Equal Opportunity Act’s sexual harassment laws, it is
necessary to show that a staff member believed on reasonable grounds that refusing to accept or objecting to the
other person’s behaviour would disadvantage the staff member in some way in connection with his or her
employment or possible employment or that, as a result of the rejection of the advance, the person was
disadvantaged in connection with his or her employment or possible work. In other words, the sexual harassment
must occur in an employment context. Because there is often no direct employment relationship between MPs
and staff, this is difficult to establish. Therefore, under proposed section 24(3A), it is not necessary to establish
that the member of Parliament’s behaviour would have, or did have, a negative impact upon the harassed
person’s career.
Proposed section 24(3A) provides that an MP shall be taken to harass a person where the MP makes an
unwelcome sexual advance; makes an unwelcome request for sexual favours; or engages in other unwelcome
conduct of a sexual nature. This will cover the situation of, for example, somebody who works for a member of a
political party who is harassed sexually by a member of another political party.
Parliamentary privilege: The extension of Equal Opportunity Act provisions to cover members of Parliament
raises issues of parliamentary privilege. The use of the phrase “parliamentary privilege” is not one that should be
construed as being similar to a perk of the office. It is a basic constitutional principle that ensures that members
of Parliament are not inhibited by executive government from raising issues and taking action in the interests of
the people.
While extending the act to cover sexual harassment by MPs, the amendments seek to protect parliamentary
privilege. Proposed section 24(2B) will provide that the new provisions about sexual harassment by MPs do not
apply in relation to anything said or done by a member of Parliament in the course of parliamentary proceedings.
Dealing with complaints: The bill also provides a special mechanism, contained in proposed section 83B, for
dealing with complaints of sexual harassment made against MPs. The mechanism for dealing with complaints
established by the bill ensures that any matters where the investigation of the complaint might raise issues that
could impinge upon parliamentary privilege are to be dealt with by the Speaker or the President, rather than by
the Commissioner for Equal Opportunity. This provision is based upon section 93AA of the South Australian
Equal Opportunity Act 1984. The process is as follows: the equal opportunity commissioner receives a
complaint about an MP, and the commissioner refers the complaint to the President, where the complaint
involves a member of the Legislative Council, or the Speaker, where the complaint involves a member of the
Legislative Assembly.
Procedure in the case that the complaint could impinge upon parliamentary privilege: The Speaker or President,
as the case may be, forms an opinion about whether dealing with the complaint could impinge upon
parliamentary privilege. If in his opinion it could, he may investigate and deal with the complaint in the manner
in which he thinks is appropriate. He is able to request the commissioner to assist in dealing with the complaint.
If after investigation it appears to the Speaker or President that the complaint would not impinge upon
parliamentary privilege, he is able to remit it to the commissioner.
Procedure in the case that the complaint would not impinge upon parliamentary privilege: If the Speaker or
President forms the opinion that parliamentary privilege would not be impinged upon in dealing with the
complaint, the commissioner may then deal with the complaint under the act. The commissioner is able to hold
compulsory conferences in endeavouring to resolve the complaint by conciliation. She is also able to refer
complaints to the State Administrative Tribunal, which is empowered to make orders, including that the
respondent pay the complainant damages of up to $40 000.
Complaints against the Speaker or the President: When the complaint has been made against the Speaker or
President, or if the Speaker or President is unable or declines to act in relation to the complaint, the Deputy
Speaker or Deputy President, or if unavailable, a member of the Legislative Council, in the case of the President,
or Assembly, in the case of the Speaker, is appointed to deal with the complaint instead.
In his opening statement to Parliament this year, the Premier said —
         Parliament should be a place in which not only are laws made, but also examples are set for the rest of
         the community.
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Further —
         This Parliament should not be cast as a boys’ club where the behaviour of sexist yobbos is not just
         tolerated but is rewarded.
These new amendments will establish that sexist behaviour by members of Parliament is not just unacceptable,
but also unlawful.
I commend the bill to the house.
                                                   Points of Order
Mr C.J. BARNETT: I question the use of the term “sexist yobbos” in the Attorney General’s second reading
speech. I do not think that is proper parliamentary language.
Mr J.A. McGinty: This is not a point of order. You are abusing the processes yet again. You do it as a serial
Mr C.J. BARNETT: That is particularly appropriate, is it not? I make the point that under standing orders a
second reading speech is designed to outline the content of the bill; it is not designed to impugn or essentially try
to slam members of Parliament. The use of the word “yobbos” is inappropriate and the Attorney General knows
that it is.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Members, in this instance there is no point of order.
Mr J.A. McGINTY: I raise this point of order because the member for Cottesloe alone, and no other member of
this place, is abusing the standing orders by constantly taking debating points under the guise of a breach of
standing orders. Repeatedly, on a daily basis at least, he is told that there is no point of order. I request that you,
Madam Deputy Speaker, confer with the Speaker on this matter to bring this abuse of parliamentary procedures
to an end.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Any member in this house has the right to raise points of order. It is noted that the
Speaker has asked members to desist from doing so as a debating point. In this instance I note the points made
by both members, but there is no point of order and I ask that the business of the house continue.
                                                  Debate Resumed
Debate adjourned, on motion by Mr C.J. Barnett.
                               FATAL ACCIDENTS AMENDMENT BILL 2008
                                           Introduction and First Reading
Bill introduced, on motion by Mr J.A. McGinty (Attorney General), and read a first time.
Explanatory memorandum presented by the Attorney General.
                                                  Second Reading
MR J.A. McGINTY (Fremantle — Attorney General) [12.20 pm]: I move —
         That the bill be now read a second time.
Persons suffering the pain and indignity of an asbestos-related disease deserve our compassion, as do the
families of asbestos victims. Significant legislative recognition of the special nature of claims arising out of
asbestos exposure was accorded by this government in its asbestos-specific limitations legislation in 1983 and
2005, and in its landmark 2002 legislation, which amended the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act
1941 by preserving for the estates of the victims of asbestos-related diseases the general damages for pain and
suffering and loss of enjoyment of life that would otherwise have been extinguished with the death of the victim.
The intention was that persons stricken with mesothelioma or some other asbestos-related disease would no
longer be fearful, out of concern for their families’ future security, that their common law claims would not be
finalised during their lifetime.
Unfortunately, an anomaly, exemplified in the New South Wales decision of BI Contracting Pty Ltd v
Strikwerda [2005] NSWCA 288, has come to light in the interaction between claims by victims’ estates under
the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1941 and claims by victims’ dependants under the Fatal
Accidents Act 1959. That anomaly, which was recently drawn to the government’s attention by the Asbestos
Diseases Society of Australia, results in general damages awards inherited by the dependants of asbestos victims
being deducted in the calculation of dependants’ damages claims. This unfair deduction clearly undermines the
beneficial intention of the 2002 amendment and will be addressed by this bill.
When a victim of a tort dies, claims for damages may be made against the wrongdoer by the victim’s estate for
the deceased’s economic loss and, in the case of asbestos claims, general damages under the Law Reform
(Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1941, and by the deceased’s dependants for their economic loss consequential
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upon the victim’s death under the Fatal Accidents Act 1959. In assessing the dependants’ damages entitlements,
account is taken of not only their pecuniary losses, but also any pecuniary gains, unless excluded by legislation,
consequential upon the relative’s death. The Strikwerda principle holds that those gains include, in the case of
dependants of asbestos disease victims, any general damages awarded to the victims’ estates that are inherited by
those dependants. Those damages are typically of the order of $165 000. Thus a widow who is $500 000 worse
off financially as a consequence of her husband’s death by reason of lost wages and the absence of his assistance
around the house, and who inherits her husband’s estate, inclusive of $165 000 general damages, will be
awarded only $335 000 under the Fatal Accidents Act. A widow whose economic loss was $20 000 would
receive no award. By contrast, if the victims bequeathed the $165 000 to a third party, the widows would receive
awards of $500 000 and $20 000 respectively.
The consequence is that, again, asbestos disease victims feel pressured at an emotionally and physically
harrowing time to resolve damages claims during their lifetime so that they can ensure that any award of general
damages is inherited by their dependants. Moreover, asbestos disease victims are, in effect, discouraged from
leaving the anticipated general damages component of their estates to their spouses and children or, alternatively,
obliged to seek to put in place expensive, complex and perhaps uncertain inheritance arrangements or rely upon
other beneficiaries voluntarily gifting their bequests to those dependants.
This bill amends the Fatal Accidents Act 1959 so that damages for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of
life received by the estate of a victim of an asbestos-related disease under the Law Reform (Miscellaneous
Provisions) Act 1941 are not taken into account when calculating the value of the benefits lost by the victim’s
dependants for the purposes of a claim by those dependants under the Fatal Accidents Act 1959. Such inherited
damages will be added to the act’s other exclusions, including insurance and superannuation proceeds.
The bill will operate retrospectively, meaning that dependants’ damages entitlements will be calculated in
accordance with the bill irrespective of whether the asbestos victim died before or after the bill comes into
operation. Dependants’ claims that have been resolved by judgement or settlement will not be affected by the
I urge that the bill be passed without delay. I commend the bill to the house.
Debate adjourned, on motion by Mr A.J. Simpson.
                               ACTS AMENDMENT (WEAPONS) BILL 2008
                                          Introduction and First Reading
Bill introduced, on motion by Mr J.A. McGinty (Attorney General), and read a first time.
Explanatory memorandum presented by the Attorney General.
                                                 Second Reading
MR J.A. McGINTY (Fremantle — Attorney General) [12.26 pm]: I move —
         That the bill be now read a second time.
The Acts Amendment (Weapons) Bill 2008 reflects the government’s commitment to enhancing the safety and
security of Western Australian people, with a particular targeted impact on Northbridge and other popular
entertainment areas.
In recent years there have been a number of incidents involving attacks on patrons in nightclubs and surrounding
entertainment precincts. On a number of occasions prosecutions of persons involved in such incidents for
contraventions of existing offence provisions have not succeeded. Police intelligence information has also
highlighted concerns about the possession of weapons by members of gangs and other persons involved in the
illicit drug trade, particularly in and around nightclub areas. Links have also been identified between certain of
those gangs and organised crime. In various cases members of gangs have been found in possession of articles
such as knives, machetes, baseball bats and nunchakus.
I am sure members would agree that there is generally no justification for persons to carry weapons in
entertainment precincts or other places where the public gathers for entertainment. Whether members of the
public attend a pub or club, a football match or another sporting event, a concert or a skyshow, they should be
and feel safe and secure. The Acts Amendment (Weapons) Bill 2008 will accordingly introduce a series of four
new offences to the Criminal Code. The offences are targeted towards the possession of weapons and firearms in
and around places of public entertainment by gang members in public places and by persons who may be
involved in illicit activities such as the drug trade. The new offences will complement existing provisions
relating to the unlawful possession of weapons and firearms under the Weapons Act 1999 and the Firearms Act
To reflect the seriousness with which the government views contraventions of these new provisions, penalties of
five years’ imprisonment are to be imposed for each of the new offences, with a summary conviction penalty of
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imprisonment for three years and a fine of $36 000. Penalties for existing offences under the Weapons Act 1999
are also to be increased by one year’s imprisonment, with increases in applicable monetary fines. The offences to
be introduced by proposed sections 67A to 67C of the Criminal Code are broadly concerned with the possession
of weapons in or near places of public entertainment whilst being in company with a group of persons in a public
place or whilst having ready access to more than $3 000 in cash. Being armed with a weapon for defence will not
generally be a lawful excuse for those offences. Limited exceptions are, however, to be created for consistency
with certain exceptions under the Weapons Act 1999. A person who has reasonable grounds to apprehend that
circumstances necessitating self-defence may arise may possess a pepper spray for defence without contravening
those sections. Certain categories of persons, such as police officers who may be carrying weapons in the course
of their duties, are exempted from the operation of proposed sections 67A to 67C.
The fourth offence provision to be inserted into the Criminal Code is proposed section 67E. It creates an offence
whereby a person has ready access to both a weapon and prohibited drugs or plants when not authorised under
the Misuse of Drugs Act 1981. Being armed for defence will not be a lawful excuse under that section in any
circumstances. This will ensure that a person such as a drug dealer or courier who has ready access to a weapon
will not be able to avoid prosecution under this section by asserting that the weapon was possessed for defence.
Evidential difficulties can arise in proving beyond reasonable doubt why a person possessed a weapon. To
ensure the effectiveness of the new offence provisions, in a prosecution for a contravention of those provisions
the accused has the onus of proving that the accused had a lawful excuse. This is consistent with the approach in
the Weapons Act 1999 in relation to offences under that act.
The Acts Amendment (Weapons) Bill 2008 is an important initiative to enhance the safety and security of
members of the public and to ensure that weapons are not brought into entertainment precincts and other places
of public entertainment.
I commend the bill to the house.
Debate adjourned, on motion by Dr G.G. Jacobs.
                                             Consideration in Detail
Resumed from 8 April.
Clause 4: Section 26 amended —
Debate was adjourned after the clause had been partly considered.
Mr R.F. JOHNSON: I remind the minister that he was going to answer a question from the member for
Murdoch. He obviously would have risen to his feet if he had thought about it, but I am giving him the
opportunity to think about it now, so that he can stand and give a response to the question from the member for
Mr J.C. KOBELKE: I was going to do it a little bit later, but on the urging of the member for Hillarys, I am
very happy to do it now.
The member for Murdoch asked questions about people who are on the Australian National Child Offender
Register who had failed to fulfil their reporting obligations under section 63 of the act, “Failure to comply with
reporting obligations”. I inform the house that the advice I have from the officers in this place is that in 2005
there were 24 charges laid; in 2006, 47 charges; in 2007, 98 charges; and in 2008, up to a date that I am not sure
of, there have been 21 charges laid. That is 190 charges laid against 160 offenders. I have specific figures, which
I am happy to provide rather than put them in the Hansard, but I will summarise them. There were two fines
imposed in the Magistrates Court in 2005; in 2006 there were two conditional release orders, 25 fines and eight
imprisonments. In 2007 there were three imprisonments, five suspended imprisonments, 35 fines, four
conditional release orders and six community-based orders. In 2006 in the Children’s Court there were two fines
and one intensive youth supervision order. In 2007 there was one fine and one good behaviour bond. We do not
have the figures available for the District Court, but I am happy to provide the member with those for which I
have more detail. Those figures clearly show that the police have been very effective in following up to ensure
that people meet their reporting obligations. When they find a failure to do so, charges are laid. Based on the
figures from the courts, a reasonable number of people are being re-sentenced, with some receiving prison
sentences, because they have failed to meet their reporting obligations.
Mr C.C. PORTER: I thank the minister for that information. For clarification, are those figures for prosecutions
pursuant to section 63, which is about the failure to report?
Mr J.C. Kobelke: That’s correct.
Mr C.C. PORTER: Is there any distinction—perhaps the minister’s advisers can assist him—between
prosecutions of that nature and prosecutions whereby someone has reported what can be proved to be knowingly
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false or incorrect information? Do the figures that the minister has given distinguish between those two
Mr J.C. Kobelke: The matter that the member is referring to relates to providing false or misleading
information, which comes under section 64. I am informed by the officers that two charges have been laid under
section 64.
Mr C.C. PORTER: The number of charges laid is very impressive, but they relate of course, broadly speaking,
to situations in which people have failed to do what they are required to do; that is, they have not handed in a
piece of paper or they have not filled in a part of it. I will put it this way: there is almost an automatic nature to
prosecutions of that type; they are not very difficult to prove because something has not been done. There have
been only two prosecutions whereby a positive investigation of information was required—is that correct?
Mr J.C. Kobelke: Yes, two charges laid.
Clause put and passed.
Clause 5: Section 29A inserted —
Mr R.F. JOHNSON: I place on the record that the opposition supports this legislation, obviously, and it has
done so throughout the course of the consideration in detail and the second reading debate. It does not intend to
spend any more time on this bill, because it agrees with its clauses. However, I will make a slight contribution
during the third reading stage related to my utter disappointment with the minister for, I believe, letting down
some young people in our society today.
Clause put and passed.
Clauses 6 to 13 put and passed.
Title put and passed.
Leave granted to proceed forthwith to third reading.
                                                   Third Reading
MR J.C. KOBELKE (Balcatta — Minister for Police and Emergency Services) [12.37 pm]: I move —
         That the bill be now read a third time.
I thank members opposite for their contributions and support of the bill. While there was the issue of the
amendment that the member for Hillarys is going to speak to, I think this is certainly important toughening-up
legislation that will ensure that the protection offered under the Community Protection (Offender Reporting) Act
2004 is further enhanced. I am sure we will see more good work being done by the officers of the Australian
National Child Offender Register unit, and those of the other parts of the police service that support them so that
they can be even more effective by using the amendments that have now been passed.
MR R.F. JOHNSON (Hillarys) [12.38 pm]: My comments will be brief, but I want to make a couple of
observations about what happened in the consideration in detail stage, which is an appropriate reflection that can
be made in the third reading debate.
During the process of consideration in detail, I stated that the opposition supports all clauses contained in this
bill, because they will enhance law enforcement against people who commit some of the most horrendous crimes
in our society, particularly that of sexual assault and particularly against children. I will labour the point one
more time about my very sincere disappointment with the minister for not accepting the amendment to a clause
that would have addressed a very, very serious situation that affects maybe only a handful of very young people.
We are not talking about adults; we are talking about very young people who have not in any way challenged
somebody of the opposite sex, but have had one slight indiscretion in their lifetime. The one I am referring to is
of the 17-year-old boy who made a very, very slight indiscretion in relation to his 16-year-old girlfriend of the
time. He certainly did not in any way force himself on the young lady; all he did was to try to push down the
waistband of her pants. As I have probably said before, most of the males in this chamber—if not all the males in
this chamber—could technically be guilty of indecent assault, because I am sure every single male in this
chamber will have probably done something similar to that when they were 16, 17 or 18 years of age. Some
people mature earlier than others when it comes to —
Mr J.C. Kobelke: I have to say that your readiness to use extreme language is being evidenced here, and I do
not know whether other members would actually agree with you on this.
Mr R.F. JOHNSON: I just ask members to look into their consciences, try to get their memories to work and
think back to when they first started to get perhaps a little more amorous than having just a kiss on the lips or a
cuddle. I suggest that most males at some stage in their lives go beyond a kiss and a cuddle. I am not saying that
they force themselves on a female, but certainly there must be some experimentation, otherwise there would
never be any babies born in this world; let us face it. That incident happened in the very early stages of that
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young man’s life. He was 17 years old. He did not force himself on the young lady. He simply acted
inappropriately—perhaps in a way that some parents might not like towards their daughters in particular, and I
accept that. However, it was a very silly, but not unusual, action of a young 17-year-old boy, and he will now
suffer consequences for the rest of his life because his name will remain on that register indefinitely. As I said,
the Commissioner of Police had the very good sense to not enforce the reporting restrictions. The Commissioner
of Police and the judge who tried this case took the view that probably it was a minuscule crime and, therefore,
the judge did not pass any sentence against the young man. However, under the obligations of the offender
reporting legislation, that young man had to go on to the sex offenders register. He will have to live with that for
the rest of his life because he did something that in many respects is not unnatural, and it was not forced. I think
many people would take the view that such an extreme measure for a minor incident is a tragic event for that
young person.
I moved an amendment to insert a new clause. It was not my brainchild; it was the brainchild of Johnson Kitto of
Kitto and Kitto, who experienced first-hand the case that I have outlined to the house. As pointed out by me, by
the member for Murdoch and, indeed, by Johnson Kitto himself, there was a safeguard in that new clause, under
proposed subsection (2), that would ensure that any judicial officer presiding over a case such as this who felt
that the offence was so minor that he was not prepared to pass a sentence against that person or record a penalty
in any way would have the ability to ensure that that person’s name was not recorded on the sex offenders
register. As I said, that has not happened in the house today. I know that most lawyers in this house agreed with
Johnson Kitto’s sentiments and with my sentiments, as the person with carriage of this bill for the opposition.
They could see the sense in that amendment. I am staggered at the advice that the minister has been given by the
lawyers and that they could not see that there was a way in which to accommodate a young person—not the one
who has been affected—who might commit an identical offence, which must be considered to be one of the most
minor on the scale of crimes when it comes to schedule 2, class 2 offences. I am bitterly disappointed for young
people by the resistance of the minister. I know that the minister said that he sympathises with the sentiment and
the principle that I am putting forward, but sympathies fall far short of positive action to ensure that other young
people do not fall into the same trap. I am bitterly disappointed with the minister and I am bitterly disappointed
with those legal officers who advised the minister to not accept the amendment to insert that new clause. I think
it is a horrendous situation that could have been addressed quite simply. If at any time it did not work, this
Parliament always has the option and the opportunity to amend the legislation. However, as I say, I am
disappointed that the minister did not have the courage to accept that amendment in good faith and go forward
with it.
Apart from that, the opposition agrees with the amendments before the house. We think they will help with those
people whom the sex offenders register is supposed to target; that is, the serial sex offenders who become
habitual sex offenders. They are the ones to whom I referred in my second reading contribution and to whom the
minister referred during consideration in detail. They are the people we need to target; that is, the ones who go
after our children and our grandchildren to commit these vile acts against them, as a result of which the victims
are left with horrendous, lifelong memories. We have seen it happen very much in the past, and I regret to say
that we will see it happen in the future, because these offenders who carry out these dreadful, devastating actions
against young children in society will, unfortunately, continue to engage in their perverted activities. It will not
be just the ones who are on the register at the moment; others will go on the register.
The principle behind the register in the first place was to ensure that serial offenders were on a register so that
their names could be sought at any time by specialist people within the police department. I accept that. The
Australian National Child Offender Register system is a great one; I support it 100 per cent. However, they are
the people for whom it was set up in the first place. When we see anomalies such as those in the case that I
outlined in this chamber, we find that sometimes the consequences of what is good legislation to start with have
a serious, detrimental effect on a predominantly innocent young person. I think this Parliament has a duty to
young people, particularly those who are similar to the person I have spoken about in this house during the
second reading debate and consideration in detail stage, because what happened to him will surely happen to
somebody else. I do not think it is the intent of this Parliament that those people who commit one very minor
offence be placed on the sex offenders register for the rest of their lives. As I said, I am extremely disappointed
with the minister for not accepting the amendment in good faith. There were no politics behind it whatsoever. It
was done with the best intentions in the world by Johnson Kitto, me and my colleagues, including the member
for Murdoch. All members on this side of the house supported the amendment to insert that new clause, because
we could see the rationale behind it. We could see what the effects would be if it were not in the legislation. The
new clause would have given the judiciary some discretion in this specific area. With safeguards in place, I
believe it would have been a great enhancement to the original sex offenders reporting legislation of 2004.
MR C.C. PORTER (Murdoch) [12.48 pm]: I reiterate the points made by the member for Hillarys. In my view,
the amendment proposed by the opposition was careful and cautious and would have produced a result that was,
practically, a better result than that which the legislation will achieve without that amendment. However, that
view will not be enhanced by repetition.
                                    [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]                                      2061

I will make some very brief comments on the information that the Minister for Police and Emergency Services
provided to me today as it relates to the amendments to the parent act sought to be achieved by this bill. The
minister dutifully provided the information I asked for, and I thank him for that. The information with which I
was provided by the minister is to the effect that there have been numerous outcomes—for instance, in the
Magistrates Court, 100 outcomes, although not all of them successful—since the act came into operation.
However, section 63 of the act deals with a failure to comply with reporting obligations, and when I asked the
question, I was expecting a figure of less than five for successful prosecutions in relation to information on the
register which was provided and which was knowingly false. I state for the record why I asked that question and
why it is pertinent to this amending bill. Two examples of the reporting requirements consequent upon someone
having been placed on the register are, amongst other things, reporting of the offender’s online name and of the
internet service provider used. There are a number of other reporting requirements. The reason for the existence
of the parent act is that such information is useful to officers in the cyber crime squad who are investigating
various potential offences under the Criminal Code committed by people online. It is a tool for those officers to
identify potential offenders and track their movements online. If that information is false, the register becomes
near-worthless. My experience of people in the criminal justice system is that, in common with the best of us,
they have trouble filling out forms on time. People who are caught in the criminal justice system often find that
incredibly difficult, so it does not surprise me at all that there have been a number of successful prosecutions for
failure to comply. Neither does it surprise me, although it concerns me, that there have been very few successful
prosecutions of cases in which people have knowingly given false information. It concerns me because the
efficacy of the act will be depleted to almost the point of non-existence if we cannot successfully investigate
information on the register and prove that it is knowingly false. The fact that there have been only two such
successful prosecutions, when there are 1 200 people on the register and the act has been in force for some time,
means one of two things: either all but two of the 1 200 people on the register are being fully truthful in their
reporting or we are not picking up, investigating and successfully prosecuting those who have knowingly
provided false information. That is a matter of some concern to me. I acknowledge the considerable difficulties
of resourcing and the evidentiary difficulties involved in proving that someone has knowingly provided false
information. However, the figure for successful prosecutions will need to increase if this legislation is to be of
any real effect in the investigation and prosecution of people who commit offences under the Criminal Code,
rather than offences under this legislation of noncompliance with reporting obligations. That is the only point I
wish to raise at the third reading stage.
Question put and passed.
Bill read a third time and transmitted to the Council.
                             SENTENCES) BILL 2007
                                                  Third Reading
Bill read a third time, on motion by Ms M.M. Quirk (Minister for Corrective Services), and transmitted to the
                                               Council’s Amendment
Amendment made by the Council now considered.
                                              Consideration in Detail
The amendment made by the Council was as follows —
         Clause 7, page 4, after line 8 — To insert —
                  (5)      Any State fleet agreement shall include a condition requiring the Minister, or
                           department of the Public Service principally assisting the Minister, to —
                           (a)       minimise, so far as practicable, the net greenhouse gas emissions associated
                                     with vehicles used by public authorities by —
                                     (i)      maximising, so far as practicable, the fuel efficiency of the vehicle
                                              fleet; and
                                     (ii)     offsetting greenhouse gas emissions of the vehicle fleet; and
                           (b)       report annually on the greenhouse gas emissions associated with vehicles
                                     used by public authorities.
Mr E.S. RIPPER: I move —
         That the amendment made by the Council be agreed to.
2062                                [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]

I am not sure whether the house needs an explanation for this amendment, but I will provide a brief explanation.
The legislation allows for an agreement between the State Supply Commission and another minister for the
administration of State Fleet. The current agreement is that State Fleet is formally administered within the
powers, legislation and accounts of the State Supply Commission, but for practical purposes is actually run by
the Department of Treasury and Finance. This could potentially cause some confusion about accountability,
although perhaps not at the moment, given that as Treasurer I am the minister responsible for the Department of
Treasury and Finance and the State Supply Commission. Leaving that question aside, it causes confusion for the
assessment of accounts in both the State Supply Commission and the Department of Treasury and Finance. The
State Supply Commission’s accounts are completely overwhelmed by the financial flows associated with State
Fleet, making an assessment of its finances and accountabilities by an outside layperson harder than it should
otherwise be. We will get a cleaner set of accounts for the State Supply Commission, a cleaner set of accounts
for the Department of Treasury and Finance, better opportunities for outside people to assess those finances and
clearer accountability if the State Supply Commission can reach an agreement that will allow for both practical
and formal administration of State Fleet to occur within another agency. It is the government’s intention that that
agency be the Department of Treasury and Finance, as it is now.
The amendment made in the upper house is about environmental considerations. The upper house has proposed
that any State Fleet agreement should include a condition requiring the minister or the department of the public
service principally assisting the minister to minimise as far as is practicable the net greenhouse gas emissions
associated with vehicles used by public authorities. This is to be done by maximising, so far as is practicable,
fuel efficiency of the vehicle fleet, offsetting greenhouse gas emissions from the vehicle fleet and reporting
annually on the greenhouse gas emissions associated with vehicles used by public authorities. The government is
prepared to accept the amendment because it reflects our current practice. It is government policy to shift the
vehicle fleet, as far as possible, to four-cylinder vehicles. Agencies have to consider whether they need six-
cylinder vehicles for operational purposes. If they do not need them for operational purposes and there is no
business case for a six-cylinder vehicle, agencies will have to use four-cylinder vehicles. The percentage of four-
cylinder vehicles in the light vehicle fleet has increased from around 20 per cent to close to 60 per cent. Another
of the government’s environmental approaches is to require 25 per cent of six-cylinder government vehicles to
be powered by LPG. The government’s third approach is to offset emissions from the light vehicle fleet through
tree planting. The state government’s light vehicle fleet is absolutely carbon neutral. All carbon dioxide
emissions from the fleet are offset by contracted tree planting. Given those policies, it can be understood that the
government has no difficulty in accepting an amendment requiring us to promote the fuel efficiency of the
vehicle fleet; we already do so with our four-cylinder vehicle policy. It will require us to minimise net
greenhouse gas emissions; we do so through our offset program, which means that we now have a carbon-neutral
Mr J.E. McGRATH: The opposition also supports this amendment. As the shadow Minister for Racing and
Gaming, I guess I support the amendment from the point of view of horsepower of the four-legged kind. I do not
know what sort of emissions they create.
Mr E.S. Ripper: I know that cattle create methane emissions, which are a significant issue, but I am not sure
where horses reign on the methane question.
Mr J.E. McGRATH: I must support the noble beasts from the sport of kings. As I said, we support the
amendment. I know for a fact that a lot of members of Parliament are already moving into more fuel-efficient
cars. I went to a car yard about a year ago and was told that the Treasurer had been in just before me and selected
a very fuel-efficient car. He was leading by example. I think that is a good thing. It is probably difficult for some
country members who have to travel long journeys, but certainly city members should look at getting into more
fuel-efficient vehicles. These vehicles are then on-sold to the public, so we must play our part in ensuring that we
reduce emissions. I know that the member for Roe will say a few words from an environmental point of view,
but I think it is a good amendment. We must all be mindful of greenhouse gas emissions. Members of Parliament
and the state public service need to set the right example. As the Treasurer has said, offsetting the greenhouse
gas emissions of the state vehicle fleet is a very good policy, and the opposition will support the amendment.
Dr G.G. JACOBS: As the shadow Minister for the Environment, I think it is important to raise a few points
pertaining to the environment. However, before I do that, I am sure that the Treasurer could see the confusion of
the member for South Perth about why the minister representing the Minister for Racing and Gaming is listed
under this item. We have not quite got our heads around that, but hopefully someone will be able to tell us the
reason for that.
Yes, I think it is important that we look at the greenhouse gas emission component of motor vehicles. Although
vehicles are not a major contributor, they are a significant contributor to the total greenhouse gas emissions of
this planet. The new clause refers to minimising, so far as practicable, greenhouse gas emissions, which is not a
particularly binding provision. Members on this side of Parliament have no major issue with the amendment, and
it will do no harm for the government to support this approach to minimise, so far as practicable, greenhouse gas
                                    [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]                                       2063

emissions and to maximise fuel efficiency so far as practicable. It is important to consider the fuel economy of
vehicles driven by parliamentarians. I think I drive one of the biggest gas guzzlers of the lot. My vehicle is due
for replacement in May. I have a lovely car. I like everything about it, but it is very expensive on fuel. It uses in
the vicinity of 15 to 18 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres.
Mr J.E. McGrath: You have to slow down!
Dr G.G. JACOBS: It is not about slowing down, member for South Perth, the opposition member responsible
for road safety issues. There are significant consumption figures for my vehicle, even when I am tootling around
town. That is an important consideration in the replacement of that vehicle. I was about to say that members pay
for their vehicles, but it is the taxpayers of Western Australia who pay for them and so consideration must be
given to the fuel consumption of vehicles.
The new subclause has a non-binding, no harm nature. It sounds pretty good, but it probably will not make a lot
of difference. There was no harm in allowing the Greens (WA) to introduce this clause, because it has good
sounding words about maximising, so far as practicable, the fuel efficiency of vehicles and minimising, so far as
practicable, greenhouse gas emissions. If I was terribly politically cynical, I would suggest —
Ms J.A. Radisich: You’re too young to be cynical!
Dr G.G. JACOBS: I thank the member for Swan Hills. I am just the right side of 60; I am not too far away, but I
thank her for that comment. I cannot help thinking that this clause will pacify the Greens. The amendment will
not do too much; it will do no harm. It provides that the minister shall minimise, so far as practicable,
greenhouse gas emissions, and so there is an out.
Mr E.S. Ripper: We are following the motto of your profession, which is first do no harm.
Dr G.G. JACOBS: The more cynical and sceptical members on this side of the house would wonder what deal
the government has done. If it lets the Greens have this one, they will do something for the government. There is
no harm in this amendment. It is politically correct for us to agree to it. It will not bind us too much, so we will
agree to it. I have a question about subclause 5(a)(ii).
The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr G. Woodhams): I draw the member’s attention to the time.
Mr M.J. COWPER: I think the Treasurer knows what I am about to say.
Mr E.S. Ripper: I was disturbed when I saw you sitting in the house. I knew what was coming.
Mr M.J. COWPER: I will put it on the record. I totally agree with this amendment; I think it is great. However,
the problem I have is that the Treasurer does not seem to be adhering to the principle of the amendment. It
provides that a State Fleet agreement shall include certain conditions, such as reducing, so far as practicable,
carbon dioxide emissions and maximising fuel economy. I support both notions. Unfortunately, it appears that
the Treasurer’s department does not subscribe to the same view. I drive a diesel-powered vehicle, which is a
fuel-efficient car. It uses about 11.5 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres. It serves my purpose in that there are more
than 900 kilometres of dirt roads in my electorate. Given the redistribution of electorate boundaries, the amount
of dirt roads will treble to several thousand kilometres of roads that I frequent on a regular basis. A four-wheel
drive is a practical car for me. It also offers safety benefits. The car has served me very well for more than
100 000 kilometres. I have been told that I will have to replace the vehicle with an inefficient, petrol-run, six-
cylinder Nissan Patrol, which has significantly increased fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. The
Treasurer knows that I am seeking to replace my car with a new model. My vehicle is a six-cylinder Toyota and
the new 200 series model is significantly more fuel efficient than the 100 series model. Its carbon dioxide
emissions are significantly lower. It is a diesel-powered vehicle, yet the Treasurer has decreed that because it has
a V8 engine, it is not eligible under State Fleet arrangements. I find that extraordinary. It should not matter
whether a vehicle has one cylinder or 100 cylinders, as long as it fulfils the requirements to increase fuel
efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions. That is the parameter that the government should follow. In addition, I
would like the Minister for Police and Emergency Services to subscribe to his own policy regarding the recent
government promotion of the drive-a-safe-vehicle program. That program is being advertised on the
government’s website and it encourages people to drive a safer vehicle in a particular class. For the benefit of
those members who are not familiar with the program, it claims that if members of the community drive the
safest car of a particular class, the road toll in Western Australia could be reduced phenomenally. That claim is
based on the advances in vehicle technology such as airbags, stability control, anti-braking systems and those
types of things that contribute to the safety of our community. They should also be included in this legislation. I
have seen many vehicles which have rolled over and which were driven by government workers, particularly
community health workers, in the outback of Western Australia. They should drive the safest vehicle in their
Mr P. Papalia: Are you endorsing the draft strategy, of which safety vehicles are a component?
Mr M.J. COWPER: I subscribe to it 100 per cent.
2064                                [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]

Mr P. Papalia: Do you endorse all four of the pillars of the draft strategy?
Mr M.J. COWPER: I have only one minute left in which to speak. I will talk to the member about that later.
We should drive safer vehicles that reduce CO2 emissions and are fuel efficient. My next replacement car will do
none of those things. I find it extraordinary to sit here and listen to the minister speak about these amendments,
which I agree with. I agree with him 100 per cent. However, the minister perceives that the community believes
that a V8 car will use more fuel than another car. That is not the case. It does not matter whether a car has one
cylinder or 100 cylinders, as long as the vehicle is more fuel efficient, reduces CO2 emissions and meets the
safety guidelines. I find it extraordinary that the government has introduced this bill but does not subscribe to it.
Question put and passed; the Council’s amendment agreed to.
The Council acquainted accordingly.
                                          PREMIER’S STATEMENT
Resumed from 12 March on the following question —
         That the Premier’s Statement be noted.
MR M.J. COWPER (Murray) [1.12 pm]: I have been patiently waiting for my turn to speak on the Premier’s
Statement. I am glad that I was in the chamber earlier than I had anticipated. I sat in this place and listened with
great attention to the Premier’s Statement. I heard about his forecasts and about what the government proposes to
achieve over the next 12 months. I listened also to how the Premier’s Statement was couched. The Premier told
us how wonderful and rosy things are. Certainly, this is an unprecedented time of prosperity. However, not all is
rosy. I could talk about many matters all day, but I will confine myself to matters that concern my constituents,
who elected me to this place and who rely on me to speak boldly on their behalf. When I was preparing to speak
on this statement, I chose certain issues in certain localities in my electorate that I decided needed to be
addressed. I will touch upon them as I proceed, but not in any particular order. I also have made a list of the
promises that this government made to my electorate in 2004. I will go through the list to identify what has been
delivered or not delivered and what has been delivered in a different format.
One of the key wishes from my constituents concerns the health services at Pinjarra Murray District Hospital.
The hospital has a proud tradition and it has serviced the community for many years. Generations of people,
including the McClarty family, were born at that hospital. It has been the focal point of the community. Some 10
years ago the hospital was showing its age when the then Court government decided to build Peel Health
Campus because of the rapid expansion of Mandurah. Unfortunately, Pinjarra Murray District Hospital took a
back seat when Peel Health Campus was built. The then government intended to revisit Pinjarra Murray District
Hospital and restore it to its former self when Peel Health Campus was up and running. However, there was a
change of government and over time Pinjarra Murray District Hospital has deteriorated. In effect, Pinjarra
Murray District Hospital is not a hospital in real terms because it does not have a 24-hour emergency medical
facility. That issue was heightened when a tragic accident occurred in Pinjarra a number of years ago. A young
lad, who lived adjacent to the hospital, fell through a shower screen and received horrific injuries. Unfortunately,
he perished. There is a question of whether he would have survived, notwithstanding the injuries that he
sustained; he might not have survived in any event. However, he did not have a chance of surviving his injuries
because he had to be transported more than 18 kilometres to be treated at Peel Health Campus.
Pinjarra Murray District Hospital was run by the community through a board. Currently the hospital is
administered by Rockingham-Kwinana District Hospital, which is 30 or 40 kilometres away. That does not sit
well with local people because they do not feel as though they have ownership of the hospital. There is plenty of
land on the hospital site and there are plenty of opportunities to develop the hospital so that it will benefit not
only Pinjarra, but also the surrounding towns, including Waroona, Dwellingup, North Dandalup and South
Yunderup, and the rapidly expanding areas in that proximity. I believe that the government, which is flush with
money, is spending the money in other areas. It does not consider my constituents to be a priority.
Mr D.A. Templeman interjected.
Mr M.J. COWPER: I will get to that in a minute, minister; just relax. There was a change of plan and an allied
health clinic was to be built there at a cost of $5.4 million.
Mr D.A. Templeman: I said it was $4 million, but you are right; it is more than $5 million.
Mr M.J. COWPER: It is $5.4 million. The Labor Party promised at the last election to build a 24-hour medical
emergency facility, but there has been a change of plan. The government could argue that it is consulting with
the community. However, we still do not have a 24-hour facility. That is the number one issue for people who
live in the Murray electorate. I agree with the concept of the new health clinic, which will attract doctors to the
town so that they can hang out their shingle and serve the health division well into the future. However, we must
                                   [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]                                      2065

look beyond that. The world’s largest alumina production is located in that area and the Boddington goldmine is
coming online. A number of development projects are occurring in the Peel region. The Minister for Peel might
be able to assist me. Currently some $5 billion worth of development is being invested in the Peel region. About
$50 billion is being invested in development statewide and 10 per cent of that investment is in the Peel region.
Peel is carrying its weight when providing for and contributing to the wealth of this great state and also this
I move now to the number of unfulfilled election promises made by the Labor Party. I refer to the $200 000
commitment made by the Gallop government to refurbish the old Pinjarra Courthouse, which has now been
refurbished. The courthouse is heritage listed and that heritage listing is a problem. The building is not occupied
and, as far as I am aware, there are no plans for the building to be occupied. I examined the prospect of moving
my electorate office into one of a number of heritage-listed buildings in Pinjarra, including Edenvale, the
courthouse and the Freemasons building. Unfortunately, the Department of the Premier and Cabinet will not
contemplate anyone moving into a heritage-listed building because too much structural change is required to
make them suitable for use as an electorate office.
Mr D.A. Templeman: We did not want you to become a relic of the past.
Mr M.J. COWPER: The minister would have to admit that Edenvale is a very beautiful place.
Mr D.A. Templeman: It is a very special place.
Mr M.J. COWPER: Edenvale is a very special place, steeped in history. Pinjarra is the fourth oldest
municipality in Western Australia. I believe Guildford is the oldest, and York is the second. I am not sure which
municipality is next oldest. I remind members who do not know their history that Pinjarra is older than Perth.
Cosmetic work has been done in the area of Pinjarra. That is to be compared with some of the great urban
renewal work that has been done by the government in some areas—I will give the government a pat on the
back—including the work done by the member for Armadale through the Armadale Redevelopment Authority
and the member for Midland through the Midland Redevelopment Authority. The authorities have done a
marvellous job on some areas that were looking pretty shabby. The other day I cast my eyes over some figures
and noticed that the foreshore redevelopment in the member for Geraldton’s electorate will cost $30 million.
That project has just come back for another little top up of $3 million. I know—as do all members—about all
manner of significant problems in Geraldton, including sand dumping on the beach. However, this government
seems to be able to drop money into certain electorates. I could be cynical and assume that the government is
well and truly keeping an eye on the future and on the electorates in which its next election successes might be. I
am not sure where Pinjarra fits into the picture.
Mr D.A. Templeman: There has been a Pinjarra sustainability study and initiative.
Mr M.J. COWPER: I have that on my list of topics, minister. I am not sure whether I will have the time to
speak to it.
I turn now to the matter of the Pinjarra bypass and the advent of the new Perth-Bunbury highway. Many of the
people who drive along the South Western Highway will use Greenlands Road, a road that turns off near the
Pinjarra Trotting Club—a fantastic trotting club that I will speak about later—and links up with the freeway and
all the way into Perth. Greenlands Road is a country farm road. As a bituminised road, not much wider than this
section of the chamber, it will support major traffic flows when it joins the freeway. We sought a capital input
from the federal government. I know the federal member for Canning, Don Randall, was chasing $10 million. I
understand that he had some sort of arrangement with the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure in which it
was said that $20 million was needed to do the job and that if Don Randall could get $10 million committed
from the federal government, the state government would consider putting up the other $10 million. I understood
that that was a done deal, yet now, after a change of federal government, I am not sure whether some of those
election promises will be met.
Mr P. Papalia: Was it one of those deals done in the last five minutes before the election?
Mr M.J. COWPER: No, it was not, member for Peel. The deal was made significantly before the election. It
was a deal that we had been pushing for some time. However, we will see what happens. This also goes to a
number of other issues. I know the member for Mandurah is in the house and I am sure that he is equally keen to
see how this pans out. I understand that some of the commitments we have are a bit shaky.
Something that is near and dear to me is surf lifesaving. I understand that there might be some doubt about the
construction of facilities for the Port Bouvard Surf Sports and Life Saving Group because of—and I do not want
to use this terrible word—reneging. I understand that the application went through the due process of approvals
and that it now appears that some doubt hangs over the development of that piece of infrastructure. There also
appears to be doubts about the fantastic new playing field for the Mandurah Pirates Rugby Union Club in the
Meadow Springs area. This has been a huge issue for all the people in my electorate, who do not have access to
public open space. The lack of public open space in the immediate area of Meadow Springs was one of the issues
2066                                [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]

that brought me to this place. I was a member of the ratepayers association formed way back in 1994, and the
issue of public open space was a prime mover for the formation of the association. I understand that the new
rugby playing field may be in jeopardy and that a number of other social programs are in question. These matters
need to be resolved, and I will take them up with the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure, in conjunction
with Greenlands Road, because that too is an important piece of infrastructure that needs to be brought online if
we are to avoid road congestion problems for people moving from the south to the north.
Mr D.A. Templeman: As the Minister for Peel, I know that you have had ongoing discussions with the Shire of
Murray and I acknowledge that Greenlands Road is an important infrastructure project for the region.
Mr M.J. COWPER: Great. That is good news.
I attended a meeting in North Dandalup last night. Prior to the 2005 election, I remember attending a community
meeting at the North Dandalup Lesser Hall. Main Roads WA turned up with some beautiful big streetscape plans
for North Dandalup. It was going to do up North Dandalup, which, I might add, is nearly as old as Pinjarra.
Singleton first set up his operations in North Dandalup. He was the chap who represented the region in the
Legislative Council way back in 1848 or thereabouts, taking over from Thomas Peel. Singleton set up North
Dandalup. At the meeting in the community hall, Main Roads rolled out these fantastic plans that were subject to
finance being provided. Every year I write to the minister or to Main Roads and ask whether the streetscape
plans for North Dandalup feature in the forward estimates. Each year I am told they do not. I was told the year
before last that they were not in the forward estimates and I was told the same thing last year. I look forward to
the soon-to-be-announced budget forward estimates to see whether there is anything in them for the proposed
streetscape redevelopment.
Of particular interest is the primary school in North Dandalup. It is a fantastic primary school—Merilyn Jones,
school principal of the year, worked there—which is about two kilometres out of town on the South Western
Highway on the other side of town. That location is a little unfortunate because most of the 101 students who
attend the school have to cross the South Western Highway and walk along the edge of the road. A lot of heavy
traffic moves through the town on the South Western Highway. This is all part of the proposed redevelopment of
the streetscape but, unfortunately, like everything else, it is on the priority list of the government.
[Extension granted.]
Mr M.J. COWPER: The issue of the North Dandalup streetscape is very important. I know that the member for
Peel, in his capacity as the Minister for Environment and Conservation, cannot comment on the discussion at last
night’s meeting about the matter of a sandmining operation that hangs over the head of the people not only of
Keysbrook, a town in the member for Serpentine-Jarrahdale’s electorate, but also of North Dandalup, a town in
my electorate. The community has major concerns about the sustainability of that project. The impact of that
project is an issue of acute concern for people who live in the area. They do not support a mineral sands mining
operation in North Dandalup. It is not an open cut; it is a type of broad-range mining, and it will devastate not
only sensitive soils and the habitat of rare and endangered cockatoos, but also the amenity of the area.
Dr G.G. Jacobs interjected.
Mr M.J. COWPER: That is currently before the minister at the moment and I know that he cannot comment
about it. However, it is something that is acutely in the minds of the people of North Dandalup.
Moving up the hill, Dwellingup is a great place to live and the people there have proved their resilience over a
number of years. In February 1961 the town was burnt to the ground and it was rebuilt. The town was threatened
again last year, and the people, showing their resolve, are now rebuilding the Hotham Valley Railway. I am very
pleased that the state government has contributed the money to rebuild the railway. When I was recently at
Dwellingup to look at the progress made on the railway works, I was reliably informed that we will be able to
travel on the Hotham Valley Railway very shortly. I understand that the state government has come forward and
said that it will contribute $2.4 million. I am told that none of that money will come from the federal
government. I find that extraordinary, because after the fire last year, and with the assistance of the president of
the Murray Shire, I spoke to the Premier about the need to declare the fire a natural disaster in order to be able to
access funding from the natural disaster program. That would have resulted in the federal government stumping
up half the cost required to repair the infrastructure in that area. I was of the view that that is what had occurred.
After a lot of persuasion it took six days for the Premier to finally declare the area a natural disaster area. It was
reported back to me that the Premier said that only 16 homes had been destroyed. I took exception to that. I am
not sure what is the precursor for qualifying for national disaster relief funding. How many houses have to be
destroyed before some sort of relief is forthcoming? In the end the Premier and the government saw the wisdom
of their ways and the area was declared a national disaster area, and I thank them for that.
Mr D.A. Templeman: It is disappointing that the federal government did not contribute.
Mr M.J. COWPER: I would like to revisit that, minister, because I was told that the Prime Minister was
waiting on a call from the Premier and that the federal government would have stumped up half of that cost. I
                                     [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]                                          2067

will follow that up and if it is not the case, I might even write a letter to the minister to that effect; I will take up
the matter and find out what the problem was. Until a few days ago I was of the view that the federal government
did stump up half of the disaster relief funding.
Until about two years ago a community nurse by the name of Anna Cook, who lives in Dwellingup, held a clinic
in Dwellingup each Thursday. Unfortunately, the hall that she operated out of—it was a community asset—had
to be shut down because of termites. Since then the community has been looking for suitable premises. I wrote to
the Minister for Health and was advised that the department was looking at some options. One option was a
coffee shop that had private rooms off to one side. It was found to be unsuitable.
More recently it was decided to operate out of the school. Having community health nurses operating out of a
school has some synergies, but also it gives people good reason to question whether it is suitable for some people
to be near the school. The community had a concern about a person in the community whom they did not want to
be around kids. I wrote to the minister and said that some parents in that neck of the woods were uneasy with the
notion of having adults loitering near the school precinct and that another option should be made available. I
understand that the community health nurse, who operates primarily in Pinjarra, is operating out of a car. I am
sure members would agree that it is an unsatisfactory and ludicrous situation. I have written to the minister and
will wait for his response. We should have a community asset from which the community health nurse could
operate on a once-a-week basis. It would also provide premises for specialists to operate from. It could become a
resource centre. I am sure that the community could make use of such an asset. It would have a multipurpose
function. The Dwellingup community group that meets regularly—generally they meet at the school or
community hall—would make use of such a facility. I am pleased that last year government members visited the
beautiful town of Dwellingup.
I refer now to the town of Coolup, in which there is a problem. The Perth-Harvey water pipeline runs past the
town, yet the local community is one of the few communities in the south west strip that does not have access to
reticulated water. The Harvey pipeline reticulates Harvey, Waroona, Yarloop, Pinjarra, North Dandalup,
Keysbrook and other towns along that route. The only town that does not have access to that facility is Coolup.
The bushfire at Dwellingup travelled up the hill to Dwellingup and over the hill along the Coolup valley.
Fantastic volunteers were involved in putting out that fire, but the biggest problem they experienced was the
logistics of trying to get water to the firefighters. Headquarters were based at Dwellingup and on the flat at
Coolup. The area is serviced by an overhead water tank, which I know the Minister for Police and Emergency
Services saw because, after he landed in the area in a helicopter with the Premier, while walking across the
paddock I pointed out to the minister that that was the only water supply available to the firefighters. That is all
right when there is only a small fire, but with approximately 187 firefighters lining up to get water from the tank,
they encounter a problem with the tank having to be refilled. They have to rely on a bore—a submersible pump
in the ground—that pumps water up into the tank. The pump has a capacity of about 6 000 litres an hour.
Mr D.A. Templeman: What is the capacity of the tank?
Mr M.J. COWPER: It is in the vicinity of 1 500 to 20 000 litres. It is an old tank on a stand —
Mr D.A. Templeman: Is this in Coolup?
Mr M.J. COWPER: Yes. Coolup has a fantastic fire station; structurally it is one of the best I have seen. It has
a fantastic group of volunteers who perform extremely well and I am immensely proud of them. I have one of
their hats and I wear it with pride.
When they want to fill the tank rapidly to get the trucks moving, they use a gate valve, and the gravity feed flows
into the tank from which the trucks are filled. The problem is refilling the tank. In a fire, power is lost, and
without power water cannot be pumped from the bore to fill the tank. One fantastic community member donated
a generator at a cost of over $10 000 to provide power to the complex. Power is an issue in Coolup. The Western
Power website indicates that it has the most blackouts of any place in Western Australia. When it comes to
firefighting capacity, access to the pipeline is necessary. The pipeline is situated only two miles out of the town.
All that is needed is a T-piece off the pipeline to feed the water into the fire station. If that were done, there
would no longer be a problem. Previously we had to go in the opposite direction to the fire to refill the fire
trucks. We are also using the same outlet to fill tankers to take to an airfield in Mounsey Road to fill the
firefighting water bombers, the PC3s or whatever, which come from Bunbury. I commend the work that those
pilots did during that fire. They are mad; they have to be to fly those planes the way they do!
I refer now to new schools. I often hear in this place the Minister for Education and Training say how many new
schools have been built and how good the government’s education policy is. Not a single new school in my
electorate is proposed. There is not even one proposed in the forward estimates. Meadow Springs and
Ravenswood need a primary school. The area known as Riverland Ramble in Ravenswood is being developed
and it is anticipated that 19 000 homes will be built, with another 2 000 at Austin Cove, which is a Satterley
development. At Point Grey, land purchased for $92 million will be developed. At west Pinjarra, a company is
2068                               [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]

building 17 000-odd homes. A canal development is proposed at Furnissdale, which will be in the minister’s
electorate at the next election. We have the potential in the Murray shire for up to 100 000 new homes, yet the
government has not made a commitment to construct primary schools.
Members would be aware of the problems I had as the local member to get school bus services for children who
live in the Furnissdale-Barragup area. That area has been encroached upon by the Public Transport Authority.
For the last 50 years the people living in that area have been sending their kids to Pinjarra Senior High School
and Pinjarra Primary School, and now they are being forced to send their children elsewhere because of the
ridiculous situation with the Department of Education and Training not talking to the Public Transport Authority.
The outcome is a number of disgruntled members of the public. I suggest to the government that one solution
would be to urgently plan a new primary school for Ravenswood.
Mr D.A. Templeman: There needs to be a local area planning process.
Mr M.J. COWPER: It is one of the areas with which we are always going to have difficulty. This will happen
in the member for Mandurah’s electorate. When it does, I hope he picks up on it.
Mr D.A. Templeman: The member is right. The Ravenswood area is a rapidly growing area. What is its current
Mr M.J. COWPER: There are 1 300 homes in Barragup and Furnissdale, 800 homes in Ravenswood and
another 450 homes in North Dandalup. There are 1 200-odd homes in South Yunderup, but that figure is
growing because of the Austin Cove development. It is just the tip of the iceberg.
I refer to the mosquito problem in my area. The local government has instituted the Contiguous Local Authority
Group. I am sure the members for Mandurah and Dawesville would agree that mosquitoes have been a real
problem this year.
Mr D.A. Templeman: It is the worst year that I can remember.
Mr M.J. COWPER: I have been told that this year has been the worst in 20 years. The incidence of Ross River
virus is up 400 per cent. Believe it or not, the worst place in the Peel region is Halls Head; the second worst is
Greenfields. Indeed, no place is untouched by the Ross River virus epidemic that comes about with a surge. The
mosquito problem was predicted with the La Niña effect, as opposed to the El Niño effect. The La Niña effect
involves increased rainfall and seasonal tides. An entomologist who came to our rotary club told us that
scientists are looking at ways of dealing with the problem in the future. We must invest money into research and
development. As with any remedy that works for a period of time, nature will takes its course and develop an
immunity to certain applications. We must consider ways of managing this problem in the future, because more
and more people will move into the area. I was talking to Mayor Creevey the other day and she told me that
when a person buys a property in Mandurah, the land title to the property states that the person is buying a home
in a mosquito-prone area. People buy in the area knowing full well that they may come up against Ross River
virus. People need to be educated on this issue. Ross River sounds like a place to which one would go for a
holiday. People may think that Barmah Forest sounds nice and head there for a holiday! The disease and its
impact on the community—I refer to the loss of productivity and the costs to the health system—should be given
more importance. There must be scope for additional funding for the area, because we are suffering from the
effects of Ross River virus.
I would like to see more tourism development. Last year the Peel region had the worst statistic for road deaths in
country regional Western Australia. That is not something that I am proud of. I acknowledge that a lot of people
travel through our community. The police in our area are doing a fantastic job with hoon drivers, but we need to
do more. Whenever I hear an ambulance siren, a fire engine siren or a police vehicle siren, or whenever I hear a
helicopter overhead, I wonder which poor soul has been lost.
MR M.J. BIRNEY (Kalgoorlie) [1.45 pm]: I am pleased to make a contribution to the debate on the Premier’s
Statement. I note that the member for Albany jumped to his feet. I apologise for getting the call before the
member for Albany. Neither of us has spoken for some time!
I want to raise four issues that are pertinent to my electorate, three of which I am pleased to say are initiatives
that I have personally proposed with some success and with the agreement of some local stakeholders.
The first issue I want to raise is the issue of violence in schools. For those members who are unaware, there is a
problem with violence in schools in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, particularly at the high school level. For some time I
have been approached by a number of teachers who are concerned about violence that is being perpetrated by
students against students and by students against teachers. The second of those two issues is of particular
concern, especially when one considers that some high school teachers are females aged 22 or 23 years and are
only five feet tall. Some high school kids are particularly tall and menacing. That imbalance is of concern to me
and it is of concern to not only the teachers whom I represent, but also many parents in my electorate. With that
in mind, I have worked with a number of teachers over a period to determine an outcome that will ultimately
                                    [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]                                      2069

result in those violent and particularly disrespectful students removed from high school campuses. Headmasters
have the power to suspend and expel students. They use the suspension function, but I am sorry to report that
many students regard that as a reward for their bad behaviour and take the opportunity to stay home and watch
television or play computer games. There is a move away from expelling students. It is part of a politically
correct movement that began about seven, eight or nine years ago. Many principals are reticent to expel students.
Even if principals are of the mind to expel students, it is a difficult and cumbersome process.
With all that in mind, I wrote to the Minister for Education and Training on 14 December 2006 and suggested
that something needed to be done. The particular proposal that I had in mind involved removing those
particularly violent and/or abusive students from the school campus after they had met certain criteria and having
them taught by one or two tougher teachers in a classroom separate from the school campus. The key to making
this work is the removal of violent students from the school campus. Many acts of violence are perpetrated
during the recess and lunch periods or on the bus to or from school. I accept the point of view that it is becoming
increasingly difficult to exclude or expel students from the school system. I propose that we set up a new
classroom that is taught by a couple of the Department of Education and Training’s better teachers who, perhaps,
should be paid a bit more than other teachers. Those teachers would consider it a real challenge to try to get such
kids back on track. They could teach them whatever they are prepared to learn, work with them on some of their
social skills and guide them on the path to recovery. The ultimate goal is not necessarily to ensure that those
students receive a great education; rather, it is to ensure that the students they leave behind on the school campus
receive a great education. There are many good students in the school community who are genuinely interested
in learning and in getting ahead. However, almost on a daily basis they are abused, cajoled and pushed around by
school bullies. As we sit in this chamber today, members may not think this is a significant issue. However,
some parents keep their kids home from school from time to time because they are worried about the violence
perpetrated against them by other students.
Mr P.B. Watson: Are the kids who are bullies special needs children or are they just bullies?
Mr M.J. BIRNEY: I think most of them fit into the latter category. They are a disruptive influence. They are
bullies who do not want to learn and who have no interest in remaining at school. Therefore, they are intent on
disrupting the lives and education of others. My proposal involves having those students removed from the
school campus and taking them to a separate location where they would be taught by a couple of tough teachers.
If those students were of a mind not to learn or to continue to be disruptive in that new environment, that would
obviously be a choice for them to make. However, at least we as a society could then acquit our responsibilities
to those children by not simply throwing them out of the school system altogether; rather, we could provide a
different learning environment for them and allow the existing school campus to become relatively trouble free.
I am pleased to say that my proposal met with a lot of support from teachers to whom I had spoken, and also
from parents in my electorate of Kalgoorlie. I wrote to the minister on 14 December, and he wrote back to me on
12 February 2007 with what would appear to be a very standard ministerial response that glossed over the issue,
committed to nothing and said everything. I was very disappointed at the Minister for Education and Training’s
response to what I considered and many people in Kalgoorlie considered to be an excellent idea. Members can
imagine my surprise when, on 16 June 2007, having written that very ambivalent letter to me on
12 February 2007, the Minister for Education and Training put out a press release that stated that he had this
wonderful new idea; in fact, he was going to set up these new off-campus behavioural classroom centres to deal
with violent and abusive students. The minister stated that this trial may well be replicated across the state, and
that the three trial areas were to be Fremantle, Canning, and—members guessed it—Kalgoorlie! On one hand I
would like to congratulate the Minister for Education and Training for picking up on that initiative; on the other
hand I think it is worthy of note that the Minister for Education and Training is not enough of a statesman to
acknowledge when somebody from the opposition has a good idea. I know some government ministers are
prepared to give credit where credit is due. The issue, of course, is not necessarily about credit, but about making
sure these things work. I am advised that the one in Kalgoorlie is working particularly well, and has provided
considerable respite to teachers and students at the high school.
The second initiative I raise has its roots in my previous life in small business. To give members a well-rounded
understanding of the proposal that I have put forward, I recount a tale of the times when I was running my
automotive spare parts operation, Goldfields Auto Spares. I distinctly remember being woken up at about two
o’clock one Christmas morning after perhaps indulging myself a little too much the night before. The alarm had
gone off at our shop, so I went down there, and, true to form, the front window was smashed —
Mr P.B. Watson: I hope you didn’t drive there!
Mr M.J. BIRNEY: I cannot remember how I got there, but I think I got a lift.
The front window had been smashed and whoever had done it had cut himself or herself. A trail of blood led to a
particular shelf, on which there was a big, spare vacant spot where there used to be a $2 000 cylinder head,
known in the trade as a Yella Tarra head, that had been stolen by this lowlife. It was just another break-in with
2070                                [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]

another product stolen, and we patched up the window and went back to work. It was not for another couple of
weeks, until I was going through my list of things I was about to order, when I noticed the cylinder head on the
order list had the corresponding price of $2 000, that these burglaries really hit home. An email was about to be
sent to the Perth supplier to spend $2 000 that should not have needed to be spent because some mongrel stole it
from the shelf. I thought to myself, “It looks like I’m up for 2 000 bucks anyway; why don’t I try to go about this
in a slightly different way?” I went to the offices of the Kalgoorlie Miner and I took out an advertisement that
stated that there was a reward of $2 000 for anybody with information leading to the arrest of the person who
broke into Goldfields Auto Spares on the corner of Boulder Road and another street at such and such a time on
Christmas Eve. Lo and behold, the very next morning I had a phone call from a woman who sounded as though
she had a handkerchief over the phone. She was particularly cagey and she was inquiring about the reward that I
had advertised in the newspaper. I instantly put her at ease and said, “Look, love, I don’t want to know who you
are or what you are, but there is a brown paper bag with a couple of thousand bucks cash in it under my counter
with your name on it if you give us the right information”, which she duly did. That information was then passed
on to the police, who went to Forrest Street, Boulder, where they tipped over a pillar of our society, who not only
had my $2 000 Yella Tarra head, but had, from memory, about $20 000 or $30 000 worth of other stolen
products. At that time it struck me that being specific about the reward and being specific about the burglary that
has taken place just might have the impact of flushing people out of the woodwork who have some internal
knowledge of criminal activity.
Fast forward to a little while ago, when I got together with all of the major stakeholders in Kalgoorlie. I called a
meeting in my office, and I am very pleased to say that the head of Crimestoppers travelled up from Perth to
attend that meeting, for which I am grateful. Also present were the superintendent of police, the Mayor of
Kalgoorlie, the local government CEO, a lot of media stakeholders, and a whole heap of other people. I put the
proposal to them that we should try very hard to raise a significant local fund in Kalgoorlie-Boulder that, on a
weekly basis, would be used as a significant reward for people who provide information leading to the arrest of
burglars. The concept in my mind at the time was that we would put together a fund, by going out to the mining
companies, other businesses and other stakeholders, and we would then determine a set level of reward, which
might, for argument’s sake, be $800—it would have to be significant. We were not talking about $40 or $50
rewards, but $500, $600, $700 or $800 rewards. That reward figure would be set, and the local police
superintendent would cause to be published in the Kalgoorlie Miner every Monday the burglaries that had taken
place for the past seven days. The initiative is based on the premise that there is no honour amongst thieves, and
that whenever somebody commits a burglary, somebody else necessarily has to know about it, given that when
thieves steal items, they tend to want to sell them—they have to be sold to someone. Also, we know that many
burglaries are also committed in company.
I am pleased to say that the head of Crimestoppers indicated to me that it was a good idea and that he might even
be prepared to put some money towards it, and that he would more than likely be prepared to use the
Crimestoppers network to ensure that the whole system worked well. Therefore, anybody with information
would pass that information on to Crimestoppers through the normal channels, and that information would come
back to Kalgoorlie and a significant reward would be offered to the person who had provided it.
This is an initiative that could be trialled in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, and perhaps manifest itself into policy across
many suburban and regional areas. It would certainly make a few of these criminals choke on their Coco Pops in
the morning when they open the newspaper to read about the burglary they committed two days prior, and that
somebody would receive an $800, $1 000 or $1 200 reward, as the case may be, for information leading to their
arrest. It would certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons in the criminal community. However, the real value
would be that we would manage to take off the streets, en masse, a whole raft of people intent on breaking into
houses and stealing valuable property for which we work very, very hard.
As I stand in this place, we are about to start talking to some of the major businesses and mining companies
about putting some money together for that fund. I intend to go back to Crimestoppers in the very near future to
try to put some finishing touches on that proposal. If we manage to get this proposal off the ground, members
might consider watching it closely because it could be a pilot project that starts in Kalgoorlie that could work in
other members’ electorates. Shall I continue, Mr Speaker?
The SPEAKER: We have another two minutes available.
Mr M.J. BIRNEY: What would the Speaker like me to talk about?
Seeing as everybody is in this place, I will talk about the Kalgoorlie Regional Hospital. As all members know,
during the last election campaign the then Attorney General, who was also the Minister for Health, rode into
Kalgoorlie-Boulder on his white horse pretending to be the white knight of the election campaign. He promised
$40 million, no less, to totally upgrade Kalgoorlie Regional Hospital, which still today looks like it did when I
broke my finger and attended there as a 12-year-old. The next election is nearly upon us, and we have not seen
the $40 million, nor have we been given any comfort by the Minister for Health about that $40 million. I know
                                   [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]                                      2071

what happened to it. It got squirreled away into the Fiona Stanley Hospital in the suburbs of Perth, because that
is where the Labor Party —
Debate interrupted, pursuant to standing orders.
                                              Statement by Speaker
THE SPEAKER (Mr F. Riebeling): Before we go into question time, I advise members that I have approved
an interruption to proceedings tomorrow, 10 April, at three o’clock, when we will test the new emergency
evacuation alarm system. It will take approximately five minutes. Members should not treat it as anything other
than a test. They should not vacate the building and their staff should not leave. I will go through this again at
two o’clock tomorrow, but the alarm system will be tested at three o’clock tomorrow.
                                       QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
                                   WESTERN POWER DISAGGREGATION
169.     Mr T. BUSWELL to the Premier:
I refer to a statement that the Premier made to the Parliament on 5 May 2005 when he said that Verve Energy, as
one of the disaggregated corporations, would “inherit significant competitive advantages that will place them in
a strong, commercial position”.
(1)      Is it not the case that the Premier received confidential advice prior to disaggregation which states that
         Western Power’s profit outlook would diminish by some $113.7 million over the next four years and
         which goes on to list the costs of operating four stand-alone businesses and rising wages as some of the
         causes of this decline in profit?
(2)      Did the Premier reject this advice from his own energy reform implementation unit and demand a better
         set of figures from Western Power to justify his claims about the commercial viability of the
         disaggregated units, including Verve?
(3)      Will the Premier now concede that if he had accepted this advice, his government would have done a
         better job planning for disaggregation and we would not be in the chaotic situation that we are in today?
Mr A.J. CARPENTER replied:
I thank the member for the question.
(1)-(3) As I recall, this was the issue that the Leader of the Opposition described as the biggest financial
        scandal —
Mr T. Buswell: A billion dollars of taxpayers’ funds.
Mr A.J. CARPENTER: I think I said five words, maybe six, that time. This is the issue that the Leader of the
Opposition said was the biggest financial scandal the state has ever seen. When we had a motion on it
yesterday —
Mr T. Buswell: The biggest single financial scandal.
Mr A.J. CARPENTER: Whatever. When we had a no confidence motion on it yesterday against the minister,
the Leader of the Opposition took no part in the debate.
Mr T. Buswell interjected.
Mr A.J. CARPENTER: No, he was not. When the member for Cottesloe finished his contribution, the Leader
of the Opposition was sitting in that seat and did not stand and take part in the debate. He did not utter a word.
Mr T. Buswell: Why don’t you answer the question?
Mr A.J. CARPENTER: I am answering the question.
Several members interjected.
The SPEAKER: I call the Leader of the Opposition, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the member for
South Perth to order.
Mr A.J. CARPENTER: I think that really demonstrates a couple of things; namely, the Leader of the
Opposition’s position vis-a-vis that of other members in his party, including the member for Cottesloe, and how
seriously he takes this issue. He had an hour yesterday. He could have taken —
Several members interjected.
The SPEAKER: Order, members!
2072                                [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]

Mr A.J. CARPENTER: The Leader of the Opposition described this issue on the radio on Saturday morning,
and yesterday in the Parliament, as the biggest financial scandal in the state’s history. When he was offered the
opportunity to take part in the debate, he squibbed it. He sat in his chair and did not speak. What an absolute
Mr T. Buswell: Are you going to answer the question —
Mr A.J. CARPENTER: I am answering the question.
Mr T. Buswell: — about your attempt to doctor the figures to make it all look —
The SPEAKER: Order, Leader of the Opposition!
Mr A.J. CARPENTER: I think that says a couple of things about the Leader of the Opposition.
Mr T. Buswell: I have read this report.
Mr A.J. CARPENTER: I do not think the Leader of the Opposition has read the Office of Energy report.
Mr T. Buswell: I most certainly have.
Mr A.J. CARPENTER: The Leader of the Opposition had the chance yesterday to take part in the debate on a
no confidence motion against the minister—as the Leader of the Opposition’s side said, the most serious motion
that can be moved in the Parliament—and he sat there and did not utter a word. I led the government’s
defence —
Mr T. Buswell: I have asked you a question. Are you going to answer the question about doctoring figures to
produce a more rose-coloured outcome for Western Power, because that is what you did?
Mr A.J. CARPENTER: Is the Leader of the Opposition suggesting that I doctored the figures?
Mr T. Buswell: I am suggesting that you saw this report and you said to Western Power, “That’s not good
enough. Come up with a better set of figures to justify the decision that I have taken.” That’s what I’m
suggesting you did.
Mr A.J. CARPENTER: Is the Leader of the Opposition suggesting that I doctored the figures?
Mr T. Buswell: Let me explain it. I’m suggesting that you got this and other reports and said, “I don’t like the
look of that. That doesn’t justify my position.” This report clearly indicates that Western Power’s profit was
headed south. You said, “Go away and do it again.” Did you or did you not do that to Western Power?
Mr A.J. CARPENTER: If that is the Leader of the Opposition’s assertion, the answer is no, I did not doctor the
Mr T. Buswell: I didn’t say that. I said: did you ask Western Power to go and reconsider the figures?
Mr A.J. CARPENTER: To have doctored the figures would have been, I think, not only probably illegal, but
also certainly a breach of my position as the minister.
Mr T. Buswell: What did you ask Western Power to do when it brought this report to your desk?
Mr A.J. CARPENTER: I asked Western Power to provide me, at every stage along the way, with the most
rigorous information that it could provide us with, so that we could make an informed decision and the
Parliament could be properly informed about the basis of the decision. The Leader of the Opposition has failed to
make any penetration on this issue because everyone who has half an ounce of capacity knows that his assertions
are blatantly untrue.
Mr T. Buswell: Are they?
Mr A.J. CARPENTER: Yes, blatantly untrue.
Mr T. Buswell interjected.
The SPEAKER: Order, Leader of the Opposition!
Mr A.J. CARPENTER: Yesterday, the Leader of the Opposition made an assertion. What more could he
possibly say—what worse picture could he possibly paint—than that this is the biggest single financial scandal
in the state’s history? Yet he sat in his chair yesterday and did not take part in the debate. It is pathetic.
Therefore, he is back today. To be fair to the Leader of the Opposition, The West Australian newspaper gave a
bit of coverage to the member for Cottesloe’s assertions. It was pretty kind to him. It did not refer to the fact that
the Leader of the Opposition had squibbed the debate. He did not rise in his place. He sat and let the member for
Avon be the second speaker. The Leader of the Opposition should have been the first speaker. He is the Leader
of the Opposition; he should have been the first speaker, as I was the first speaker for the government. What the
Leader of the Opposition is doing now —
Several members interjected.
                                    [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]                                      2073

The SPEAKER: I call the member for South Perth and the Leader of the Opposition to order.
Mr A.J. CARPENTER: What the Leader of the Opposition is doing now is desperately trying to scramble the
ground because he has realised how foolish he looked. What a joke he presented himself as. His own team could
not believe what happened.
Mr T. Buswell interjected.
The SPEAKER: Order, Leader of the Opposition!
Mr A.J. CARPENTER: There is absolutely no basis to the false assertions that the Leader of the Opposition is
making about my behaviour—none whatsoever. However, he will make them now because he thinks, and he is
probably right, that they will gain a bit of coverage. He can make the most ridiculous, false —
Mr T. Buswell interjected.
The SPEAKER: I call the Leader of the Opposition to order for the third and final time.
Mr A.J. CARPENTER: Yesterday, the Leader of the Opposition failed a very significant test. If any credible
member of Parliament makes assertions along the lines of those made by the Leader of the Opposition, that
member at least takes part in the debate when those assertions are being debated. This Leader of the Opposition
took no part in the debate. He should be laughed out of town, back to Villa Carlotta and the bus tours that he is
so proud of promoting—those bus tours that we understand uniquely give the Leader of the Opposition the
qualities to run the state; that is, a $17 billion or $18 billion venture called the state of Western Australia. The
Villa Carlotta bus tour operator—the Stan Butler, the Reg Varney of Busselton: “I hate you, Butler”—thinks that
his experience running bus tours for pensioners in Busselton now makes him uniquely qualified to run the state
of Western Australia. No-one else has the qualifications. What happened to Reg —
The SPEAKER: I call the member for South Perth to order for the third and final time, and the member for
Mr A.J. CARPENTER: There he was, Stan Butler—aka Reg Varney—of Villa Carlotta pensioner tours in
Busselton, given the chance to stand in the spotlight and put the case —
The SPEAKER: The last call was for the member for Darling Range, and I call the member for Darling Range
to order for the second time.
Mr A.J. CARPENTER: He had the chance to stand as Leader of the Opposition—the alternative Premier, who
is so uniquely qualified, with all his business acumen—and put his case for why the Minister for Energy should
be sacked. He did not enter the debate. If that is not a story, I have not seen one. This comes on the back of what
the Leader of the Opposition has already been unable to do, which is to take a position on any issue of any
substance during his time as Leader of the Opposition. If that is not a story, I have not seen one. Why did the
Leader of the Opposition not take part in yesterday’s debate? For the sake of Hansard, I am counting: four, five,
six, seven seconds. The Leader of the Opposition still has not replied. Why did he not take part in yesterday’s
Mr T. Buswell: Because your side of Parliament would not grant us the time we needed to thoroughly explore
the issues, and you tried to clamp down on the debate.
Mr A.J. CARPENTER: That is what I call leadership! The opposition had half an hour. It allowed the member
for Cottesloe the first 10 or 12 minutes on the back of a rather incredible 18-minute exposition about why the
house should suspend standing orders. The opposition then allowed the member for Avon to give one of his
classic solo parliamentary performances. It then allowed the attack dog of the Liberal Party—the member for
Darling Range—to rise and fang us! He fairly tore into us! Between speeches from the member for Cottesloe,
who at least showed a little passion for the issue—a bit overplayed, I thought—and the member for Darling
Range, who is not renowned for his passion, so that there was a bookend effect, the Leader of the Opposition, the
alternative Premier, had the chance to rise and make his case, but he sat there and did not speak, other than to
respond to his staff. He left the chamber! The government could not believe it; we sat here watching the clock.
Surely —
Mr J.H.D. Day interjected.
Mr A.J. CARPENTER: It is a bit hard to know if he will not speak. If he will not take part in the debate at all,
it is a bit hard to discern what is spin and what is substance. So far there has been a complete lack of substance.
The issue has been on the go, in a very crystallised form, since one o’clock on Friday. The government came into
the Parliament expecting the issue to be pursued and expecting—as one would—the Leader of the Opposition to
contribute to the debate. He did not; he declined the opportunity. The following day—today—he has come back
with another ridiculous assertion that somehow or other I doctored the Western Power books.
Mr T. Buswell: No, did you send this information back to Western Power and ask it to redo it?
2074                                [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]

Mr A.J. CARPENTER: What information? The Leader of the Opposition is waving a big piece of paper
around. If there is one thing we have learnt —
Mr T. Buswell interjected.
The SPEAKER: Order, Leader of the Opposition!
Mr J.N. Hyde: Come on, he’s had three warnings!
The SPEAKER: Order, member for Perth!
Several members interjected.
The SPEAKER: I call the member for Perth to order for the first time.
Mr A.J. CARPENTER: If there is one thing we have learnt from our observations of the current Leader of the
Opposition, it is that one should never take on face value anything that he says, as at least two people on his side
of the house have found to their extreme personal cost, one of them being the member for Warren-Blackwood
and the other being the member for Kalgoorlie. Never accept on face value anything that the Leader of the
Opposition—the Reg Varney; the Stan Butler; the Villa Carlotta —
                                                  Point of Order
Mr C.J. BARNETT: Under standing order 78, an answer must be relevant to the question. The Premier has
been going for nearly 15 minutes. He has not attempted to answer the question.
The SPEAKER: That is a matter of opinion that is normally shared by the people on my left and not necessarily
by the people on my right. The answer is in fact in direct response to the allegation contained in the question.
The question is lengthy and contains a large number of elements. I think the Premier is answering the question.
                                        Questions without Notice Resumed
Mr A.J. CARPENTER: I do not disagree with the first part of the assertion. However, this is the case, and I
will finish my answer.
At every step along the way, the government sought to ensure that the information provided by Western Power
was the most up-to-date and rigorous it could provide us with. If the Leader of the Opposition is asserting that it
did not do that, it is a reflection by the Leader of the Opposition on the staff of Western Power, similar to
yesterday when he remarkably and somewhat disgracefully likened the staff of Verve Energy to Laurie Connell
and his management of Rothwells.
                                           HOUSEHOLD CHARGES
170.     Mr B.S. WYATT to the Premier:
Can the Premier explain to the Western Australian public the Liberal Party’s approach to household charges?
Mr A.J. CARPENTER replied:
I thank the member and I appreciate the question. We have learnt that the opposition’s position on these issues
means that Western Australian households need to be extremely alarmed and extremely alert to the prospect of
the Liberal Party forming government, because it has told the government that it is against us helping households
manage increased electricity prices. The opposition described it yesterday, over and again, as a financial scandal.
The opposition is ideologically opposed to the government helping families manage increasing power bills, just
as it used to be ideologically opposed to the government subsidising public transport. When in government, the
Liberal Party sought to erode that subsidy because it was ideologically opposed to it. If—let us hope this does
not happen—the Liberal Party ascends to government at the next election, the people of Western Australia can
look forward to a massive increase in power prices in one hit. Are members opposite denying that that will
Mr T. Buswell: Yes.
Mr A.J. CARPENTER: How? The Leader of the Opposition should tell us what the opposition will do. He
denied scheming against the members for Kalgoorlie and Warren-Blackwood. That is where his credibility lies.
When the Liberal Party was in government, it continually eroded the Labor Party’s public transport subsidy
policy. The Liberal Party was committed to recovering 40 per cent of the operating costs of the metropolitan
public transport system. The Labor government recovers less than 30 per cent. We heavily subsidise public
transport. The opposition will dramatically increase power prices to the general public because it fundamentally
and ideologically opposes subsidisation. That is the truth; that is what we have seen. I will lay out a challenge to
the Leader of the Opposition to get out there, for the first time during his leadership, and take a position, by the
end of today. He does not have a position —
Mr T. Buswell: You don’t like it, do you? A little bit of scrutiny and you become Mr Nasty.
                                   [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]                                       2075

Mr A.J. CARPENTER: Mr Nasty? There we go. I lay down the challenge to the Leader of the Opposition to
explain to the public of Western Australia, by the end of today, how he will manage the shift in household
electricity prices. Does he think he can do that? He cannot tell us. With all the economic savvy he acquired
driving Villa Carlotta bus tours, either he cannot tell us how he will manage the electricity pricing shift for the
average Western Australian consumer or he is refusing to explain. Anyone can do what he is doing; anybody can
criticise the government on any issue. Not anybody —
Several members interjected.
The SPEAKER: Order, members!
Mr A.J. CARPENTER: Not anybody can provide an alternative arrangement. I publicly challenge the Leader
of the Opposition, right now, in the Parliament of Western Australia, to outline to the people of Western
Australia by the end of today, or tomorrow, or the next day, how he will manage electricity prices in the future. I
am pretty sure that he will do with that challenge what he did with the challenge yesterday—he will not speak a
word to it. Yesterday, he had one of the most remarkable failures of a Leader of the Opposition that the
Parliament has ever seen. Having described in the public arena the subsidy to householders for electricity
consumption as the biggest single financial scandal in the state’s history, he sat mute when the matter was being
debated. He could not bring himself to get to his feet and take part in the debate. Words such as “credibility”,
“integrity” and “honesty” are associated with leadership.
                                        VERVE ENERGY — SUBSIDY
171.     Dr S.C. THOMAS to the Minister for Energy:
I refer to the minister’s answer to my question yesterday about the $780 million apparent subsidy for electricity
consumers and his confirmation that private providers will be able to access some of that $780 million subsidy if
they sell power to Synergy cheaper than the cost at which they produce it.
(1)      Are any private generation providers currently providing power to Synergy at less than the cost of
         production to them; and, if so, who are they?
(2)      If there is none, will the entire $780 million be, in effect, a subsidy to Verve Energy that is unavailable
         to private generators?
(3)      Under either circumstance, how much of the payment will be passed on to Verve Energy, how much
         will go to Western Power’s network and how much will be retained by Synergy?
Mr F.M. LOGAN replied:
I thank the member for the question and I will go through it again. Obviously, he did not understand my answer
Dr S.C. Thomas: You didn’t answer it yesterday.
Mr F.M. LOGAN: No, the member did not understand it.
Dr S.C. Thomas: You didn’t answer it.
The SPEAKER: Order, members!
Mr F.M. LOGAN: I went through the issue very slowly for the member yesterday so that he could understand
(1)-(3) Let us go back. What is the issue with Verve? With Verve, as a power generator, we have a history of
        underinvestment, we have massive increases in input costs and we have frozen tariffs. I went through it
        yesterday in great detail. That is the issue. It is as simple as that. There has been underinvestment in
        maintenance and upgrades, massive increases in energy input costs and frozen tariffs.
Several members interjected.
The SPEAKER: I call the member for Roe to order.
Mr F.M. LOGAN: The massive increases in input costs have been caused by increases in the price of gas, oil,
materials and labour. Therefore, Verve’s income does not match the cost of generating power. Verve is moving
to cost-reflective tariffs, which is what the government is going to do. The Premier announced on Friday that the
first increase in the move towards cost-reflective tariffs will be at a rate of 10 per cent in July 2009. Members
opposite have been on the record on numerous occasions in this house calling for the government to tell the
people of Western Australia well before the election how much electricity prices will go up by, and we have
done that.
Dr S.C. Thomas: That is not today’s question though.
Mr F.M. LOGAN: No, I know. In conjunction with the move to cost-reflective tariffs, we are also making those
organisations that are in the process of delivering power to homes—whether they be generators, retailers or
2076                                [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]

networks—whole for the delivery of that power to our homes. That is what the $780 million is for. How are we
going to distribute the $780 million? The member for Cottesloe has continuously asked what the families of
Western Australia will get for this $780 million. What they will get is subsidised electricity from the
Mr C.J. Barnett: The price is going up, not down.
The SPEAKER: Order, member for Cottesloe!
Mr F.M. LOGAN: The problem is that —
Mr C.J. Barnett interjected.
The SPEAKER: I call the member for Cottesloe to order for the first time.
Mr F.M. LOGAN: The problem is that the opposition just does not understand the issue. The former Minister
for Energy is, unfortunately, badly advising the current frontbench, which is why we get these types of questions.
Members opposite should not listen to him. He was the worst Minister for Energy that this state has ever had.
Members should not listen to him. That is what the $780 million is for. It is a subsidy to households, to families,
in Western Australia.
Mr C.J. Barnett: Tell them they’re better off.
The SPEAKER: I call the member for Cottesloe to order for the second time.
Mr F.M. LOGAN: It will be applied through the market mechanism of the retailer, Synergy, keeping the
generators whole.
Dr S.C. Thomas: Which generators?
Mr F.M. LOGAN: The largest generator on the grid at the moment is Verve. I presume that Verve will be the
major beneficiary of that subsidy.
172.     Dr S.C. THOMAS to the Minister for Energy:
I have a supplementary question. I asked the minister whether any private generation providers are currently
providing power to Synergy at less than the cost of production. Will he please answer the question?
Mr F.M. LOGAN replied:
I am certainly unaware of private providers selling to Synergy at less than the cost of generation.
Dr S.C. Thomas: So it is only Verve?
Mr F.M. LOGAN: At this moment, I am unaware, but —
Dr S.C. Thomas: So it is a subsidy to Verve; thank you.
Mr F.M. LOGAN: However, if that is the case, if it costs them more to generate than they receive in income,
and Synergy —
Dr S.C. Thomas: How can you not know that?
Mr F.M. LOGAN: Listen. If Synergy purchases that energy, yes, they will be made whole. I said that yesterday
and I have said it again today.
173.     Mr A.P. O’GORMAN to the Treasurer:
Currently, the government is spending record amounts on infrastructure and capital works. Can the Treasurer
further explain how such a commitment will benefit our state?
Mr E.S. RIPPER replied:
That commitment benefits not only the state, but also the nation as a whole. However, before I come to that, let
me remind members of the size of the infrastructure program. In the last budget, it was $21.6 billion, or $2 220
per Western Australian. That can be compared with the equivalent commonwealth budget under the Howard
government at the time of $237 per capita. We know that there is a real need to keep building infrastructure for
future economic growth, and that there is a real return to the state and the nation from that infrastructure. The
trade figures for February that have just come out are proof of the wisdom of that approach. Western Australia’s
trade performance is at a record level. Our state now accounts for 37.3 per cent of national exports. Let us put
that in context. It is triple Victoria’s share of exports, which is only 12 per cent. It is double New South Wales’
share of exports, which is 16.7 per cent. It is more than the combined share of the second largest resources state,
Queensland, and New South Wales. Together, those two states, the second largest resources state and the biggest
                                    [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]                                       2077

state in the nation in population terms, have 36.1 per cent of exports. Western Australia has 37.3 per cent of
exports. That is a pretty good performance.
There is another comparison that I think will interest members of the house. The nominal value of Western
Australia’s exports is almost double the size of New Zealand’s exports, using Australian dollar terms, and we
have about half the population. Unlike the rest of the nation, we have a trade surplus, which now stands at
$38.1 billion. The nominal value of our merchandise exports increased by 9.6 per cent over the three months to
February this year. Nationally, the value of exports rose by only 4.2 per cent over the same period. In annual
average terms, the value of our exports rose by 10.3 per cent over the year to $63.1 billion. Over the same period
nationally, exports increased by just 1.6 per cent to $169.2 billion. That shows both the need for and the benefit
that Western Australia and the nation get from a very strong infrastructure program. It is good that the new
federal government recognises the need for more investment in infrastructure in Western Australia. It is good
also that it has committed to allocate 25 per cent of the Gorgon royalties, and in the interim Pluto’s royalties, for
a Western Australian infrastructure fund. We look forward to the new commonwealth government paying even
more attention to Western Australia’s needs. It recognises the importance of Western Australia to the nation’s
export performance and the importance of our export performance to the nation’s standard of living.
                            IRON ORE INDUSTRY — ROAD INFRASTRUCTURE
174.     Mr G. WOODHAMS to the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure:
Iron ore exports in 2007 amounted to $16.1 billion and now account for 30 per cent of Western Australia’s
mining and petroleum industry, and the export of iron ore is a major contributor to the estimated $2.5 billion in
annual state royalty collections.
(1)      What is the minister doing to support the transport needs of the mid-west iron ore industry, given its
         planned expansion?
(2)      What is the minister doing to deal with the increased road traffic associated with the iron ore industry in
         the northern agricultural region?
(3)      What priority does Main Roads give to the Perenjori to Mullewa Road, and when will the road be
         upgraded to a two-lane bitumen road?
Ms A.J.G. MacTIERNAN replied:
I thank the member for the question.
(1)-(3) The member is well aware of the investment that we have made in the mid-west. In our first year of
        government we began the construction of the Mt Magnet-Leinster Road, which at that time was the
        biggest road project in Australia. That created the very important connectivity between the northern
        goldfields and Geraldton and it certainly has facilitated the development of the mid-west. We have
        already put in place stage 1 of the southern transport corridor. That project cost in excess of
        $100 million and it brought rail and road freight to the newly expanded Geraldton port. Very soon we
        will announce the award for the contract for stage 2 of the southern transport corridor. That project will
        help us manage the transport of iron ore into the newly expanded port of Geraldton. I remind members
        that we have spent probably in excess of $170 million on the transport infrastructure at the port.
Mr E.S. Ripper: Contributing to our export performance.
Ms A.J.G. MacTIERNAN: Indeed. It has allowed the iron ore industry in the mid-west to get underway. We
have put a good deal of money into the Mullewa Road project and we will continue to look at the needs of that
area. Our immediate focus has been to get as much of that traffic as possible off road and onto rail. To that end,
we have worked very hard to get the Midwest Corporation Ltd to commit—it has told us it has let the
contracts—to develop the Tilley siding. Oakajee is the next big thing and we will now look at the road
requirements that we must provide to service that facility. In the next 12 months, we expect to have a
comprehensive road plan that will be needed to augment the private sector development of the Oakajee rail and
port infrastructure.
                            IRON ORE INDUSTRY — ROAD INFRASTRUCTURE
175.     Mr G. WOODHAMS to the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure:
As a supplementary question, will the minister undertake to upgrade the Perenjori to Mullewa Road to a two-
lane bitumen road?
Ms A.J.G. MacTIERNAN replied:
We do not make decisions on our road infrastructure on an individual basis; we look at the whole program that
we must deliver and we prioritise. I certainly undertake to the member that we will look at it.
2078                                 [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]

                                     HOTEL ACCOMMODATION IN PERTH
176.     Mrs J. HUGHES to the Minister for Tourism:
Will the minister inform the house of the indicators of the growth in hotel accommodation in Perth?
Ms S.M. McHALE replied:
I thank the member for her very timely question. Perth, and Western Australia, is experiencing unprecedented
growth and expansion. Last weekend we saw an influx of more than 13 500 people at three major events: the
2008 Surf Lifesaving Championships; the Union Internationale de la Marionnette world congress; and the
Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association’s conference, which had more than 2 500
delegates. Perth hotel operators were very pleased because the hotels were full. A report released by Colliers
International Ltd has confirmed that Perth is demonstrating the strongest growth of all the hotel markets in
Australia. The conclusions that can be drawn from the summer 2008 “Colliers International Hotels Investment
Australia quarterly report” is that Perth is positioned to lead all the other Australian cities in hotel investment
opportunities. In the year to September 2007, the hotel room demand in Western Australia has grown by 5.9 per
cent and occupancy rates have risen to 82.6 per cent. The room rate has risen by 26 per cent between September
2005 and September 2007. This report shows that the conditions in Perth are right for investing in hotels, which
is a very pleasing sign. Occupancy rates are up, demand is strong and the room rates are growing. Three new
hotel developments have come on stream recently: the Holiday Inn at Burswood, The Richardson in West Perth
and the Medina Executive Barrack Plaza, which have provided almost 650 extra rooms. Three major hotel
developments are in the pipeline: the Elan Riverside Pier Hotel at the Barrack Square precinct, with 86 rooms;
the Seasons of Perth hotel in Pier Street, which has 70 rooms; and the redevelopment of the old Treasury
building. In addition, as at December 2007 an additional 100 rooms were in either the development or planning
and construction phase. In the long term, hotels on the Perth waterfront and a new hotel adjacent to the Perth
arena will also supply the market with high-quality hotels to add to the stock of rooms available to visitors to
Western Australia. The government is working extremely hard to attract hotel investors of international
reputation to consider Perth and Western Australia as a strong investment opportunity to meet the future demand.
It is pleasing to see these conditions for investment in Western Australia and we will be very aggressively
seeking high-quality hotel investors to make sure that we meet the continuing growth in our wonderful state.
                                    DENTAL HEALTH SERVICE WORKERS
177.     Dr K.D. HAMES to the Minister for Health:
I refer to the large number of dental health service workers who rallied outside Parliament House today, many of
whom now fill the public gallery. Their placards read: “dental services decay”, “staff leaving for the private
sector”, “less staff, less services”, “no staff, no services” —
The SPEAKER: I do not know how many placards the member intends to read, but we have got the message.
Just ask the question.
Dr K.D. HAMES: When will the minister negotiate seriously with dental health service workers and bring their
conditions and salaries into the twenty-first century?
Mr J.A. McGINTY replied:
I thank the member for Dawesville for that question because I think we have a common view on this issue. The
current applicable salaries are inadequate for dental staff, particularly those who are working in the school dental
service, but in the dental services generally; I unhappily acknowledge that. This requires attention. In recent days
I have —
Dr K.D. Hames interjected.
Mr J.A. McGINTY: I am acknowledging that. I will give members an example. An 18-year-old trained dental
clinical assistant gets paid about $12 an hour. That indicates the nature of the problems.
[Interruption from the gallery.]
The SPEAKER: Take a seat, minister. The people in the public gallery are more than welcome to be here and to
observe Parliament. However, unfortunately for them, they are not permitted to participate in the proceedings.
Interjections will result in the removal of the people who interject. As I said, they are more than welcome to be
here to observe the proceedings but they cannot disrupt Parliament.
Mr J.A. McGINTY: Even a level 1 trained dental clinic assistant is on something like $16.60 an hour. I think
that everyone would acknowledge that that is an unacceptable rate of pay. It manifests itself in this way. We are
increasingly unable to attract or retain staff, not only at the dental clinic assistant level, but also at the hygienist
and dentist level.
Several members interjected.
                                    [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]                                       2079

The SPEAKER: Order, members!
Dr K.D. Hames: Are you surprised by that? You have been here for seven years.
Mr J.A. McGINTY: I am answering the member’s question. In order to continue to provide that service, I have
in recent times spoken with both the Director General of the Department of Health, Dr Peter Flett, and the
Executive Director of Public Health, about the significant need to expedite the work they are doing on this issue
to resolve the problem in order to be able to continue to provide the service.
Several members interjected.
The SPEAKER: Order, members!
Mr J.A. McGINTY: Two hundred and forty-one thousand schoolchildren in this state are involved with the
school dental service. The coverage offered by that service to Western Australian schoolchildren is great.
Historically, it has been the best service offered in the whole of Australia and we hope to build it up to that level
once again.
Several members interjected.
The SPEAKER: Order, members!
Mr J.A. McGINTY: We want to resolve these issues because the level of salary that is currently paid is
nowhere near sufficient enough to attract and retain people to provide this service.
Dr J.M. Woollard: While you negotiate, children are in pain.
The SPEAKER: Take a seat, minister. I call the member for Alfred Cove to order for the first time.
Mr J.A. McGINTY: I have indicated my sense of priorities in dealing with this matter and hopefully something
can be brought to bear in discussions with the union and also with the other staff —
Dr G.G. Jacobs: Too much! What are you going to do?
The SPEAKER: Order, member for Roe!
Mr J.A. McGINTY: — with whom I have discussed this matter. Having received a delegation from the union a
few months ago and having met people socially who have raised this matter with me has brought home to me the
need to move expeditiously and not await the outcome of the rather lengthy process undertaken by the
Department of Health to date involving drawing up a workforce plan and other such things of that nature. The
situation is considerably more urgent than that and I intend to continue to engage in discussions with the union to
resolve this matter for the benefit of schoolchildren in Western Australia.
The SPEAKER: I call to order the member for Roe for the second time. I also call to order the members for
Murray, Warren-Blackwood and Leschenault.
                                   DENTAL HEALTH SERVICE WORKERS
178.     Dr K.D. HAMES to the Minister for Health:
I have a supplementary question. Does the minister think it reasonable that—having heard the outrage of the
people in the public gallery—he has been in government for seven years and is obviously aware of the problem,
yet there is no solution?
Mr J.A. McGINTY replied:
I have answered the question.
                                               CHAMPION LAKES
179.     Mr A.D. McRAE to the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure:
Will the minister advise the house about the national event staged at the magnificent Champion Lakes centre
built by the state Labor government?
Ms A.J.G. MacTIERNAN replied:
I thank the member for the question because it gives the government an opportunity to publicise one of the least
publicised jewels in the Labor Government’s crown; namely, the development at Champion Lakes.
Several members interjected.
The SPEAKER: Order, members!
Ms A.J.G. MacTIERNAN: I am sure that—
[Interruption from the gallery.]
2080                                [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]

The SPEAKER: Take a seat, minister. If members in the public gallery wish to leave, please do so without
making any comments.
Ms A.J.G. MacTIERNAN: Today I was very pleased to attend and participate in the opening ceremony of the
2008 Australian Dragon Boat Championships currently underway at Champion Lakes.
A government member: Did you win?
Ms A.J.G. MacTIERNAN: I am sure that I would have won had I participated!
This is the first national championships held at this new facility built by the state government at a cost of some
$34 million. The government is very confident that it will recoup that cost. This event alone has attracted the
interest of 650 competitors from around Australia and thousands of spectators who have come from around
Armadale. The Australian Dragon Boat Federation is very pleased to be the first national competition to be
staged at this facility. Great interest has been expressed by Rowing Australia and from canoeing and kayaking
groups that want to make use of the facilities at Champion Lakes. Western Australia now offers the best rowing,
canoeing, kayaking and dragon-boating conditions available in Australia. I urge all members to visit this
magnificent development delivered by this government for the people of Western Australia. It is another
example of how this Labor government builds the state and gives the people the benefit of the boom.
The SPEAKER: I call the member for Murray to order for the second time.
                                     RESIDENTIAL ELECTRICITY COSTS
180.     Mr J.H.D. DAY to the Minister for Energy:
I refer to the massive increase in electricity prices announced by the Premier in the minister’s absence.
(1)      Will the minister provide information about the average amount of an annual residential electricity bill?
(2)      What is the average annual household consumption of electricity in kilowatt hours?
(3)      In dollar terms, what will be the average cost of a residential electricity bill when the minister’s pricing
         regime takes full effect?
Mr F.M. LOGAN replied:
I thank the member for his question.
(1)-(3) In summary, the question is about average price. The average household bill for electricity consumption
        in Western Australia is between $800 and $1 200 a year. Obviously, a 10 per cent increase on that size
        bill will be anywhere between $80 and $120. That is the answer to the member’s question. The member
        can work the rest out for himself.
         I would put a question to the member for Darling Range. This morning, on radio 6PR, the member
         spoke about Verve Energy and tariff increases.
Mr J.H.D. Day: Can the minister answer my question?
The SPEAKER: Order, member!
Mr F.M. LOGAN: The member for Darling Range indicated that should the Liberal Party achieve government,
it would re-aggregate Synergy and Verve Energy. Is that Liberal Party policy?
Mr J.H.D. Day: I did not say that we would do that. I said that it needs to be thought about; it needs to be
Mr F.M. LOGAN: Is that the policy?
Mr J.H.D. Day: I said that it needs to be considered.
Several members interjected.
The SPEAKER: Order, member for Capel!
Mr J.H.D. Day: I said that it needs to be considered. Go and read the transcript a bit more carefully.
The SPEAKER: Order, members!
Mr F.M. LOGAN: There we go. As I said in an earlier answer, unfortunately the opposition frontbench is
listening too much to the former Minister for Energy. Whose idea is it to re-aggregate Synergy and Verve
Energy? It is none other than the member for Cottesloe’s idea—the former Minister for Energy. That is where
that idea comes from. If that is the Liberal Party’s position, it should tell the electricity market that that is its
position and then look at what will happen. Investment in the electricity industry will stop dead. The Liberal
Party will kill investment in the electricity industry if it wants to re-aggregate Synergy and Verve Energy. If
members opposite do not believe me, they should ask the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Western
                                    [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]                                      2081

Australia, businesses and people in the electricity industry what will happen if Synergy and Verve Energy are re-
aggregated. The Liberal Party will kill investment in the electricity industry in this state. Electricity investment
will be dead.
Dr K.D. Hames interjected.
Mr F.M. LOGAN: As the opposition spokesperson on energy, the member for Darling Range has not said one
word about the tariff increases. He has not said that they are too high. He has not said that they are too low. He
has not said what the Liberal Party would do about tariffs. He is avoiding the question. He is avoiding making
any policy commitment.
Dr K.D. Hames interjected.
The SPEAKER: Take a seat, minister. I call the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to order for the second time.
Mr F.M. LOGAN: The opposition is avoiding any policy commitment at all either because it is scared or
because it does not know what it is doing.
                                    RESIDENTIAL ELECTRICITY COSTS
181.     Mr J.H.D. DAY to the Minister for Energy:
I have a supplementary question. I repeat minister: what will be the average household electricity bill after the
government’s pricing regime has taken full effect? Does the minister not have such an estimate?
Mr A.J. Carpenter: I thought the minister had answered the question.
Several members interjected.
The SPEAKER: Order, member for Cottesloe!
Mr F.M. LOGAN replied:
The statement made by the Premier is, effectively, the answer. However, the clear position that has been put by
the Premier is that in July 2009 prices will increase by 10 per cent.
Several members interjected.
The SPEAKER: I call the member for Cottesloe to order for the third and final time.
Mr F.M. LOGAN: There will be a glide path of approximately 10 per cent, or slightly above, for the next six to
eight years.
Mr M.W. Trenorden interjected.
Mr F.M. LOGAN: The member for Darling Range can work the calculations out for himself.
The SPEAKER: Take a seat, minister. I call the member for Avon to order for the first time.
182.     Mr M.P. MURRAY to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services:
As we are now at the end of the summer bushfire season, would the minister advise the house on how many
bushfires there were this past season and what use was made of the new Fire King helicopter in fighting those
Mr J.C. KOBELKE replied:
I thank the member for his question and his strong support for volunteer firefighters. The past summer bushfire
season has been very busy, with 3 300 bushfires being reported and more than two-thirds of them being in the
Perth metropolitan area. I put on the record my thanks to both our career firefighters and our volunteer
firefighters who have been on the ground doing the important work to contain those fires to save people’s
properties and ensure that people’s lives are safe. In a number of instances that was a real issue over the past
We certainly have had added capability in our firefighting, with the Fire and Emergency Services Authority of
Western Australia’s air wing, which is in addition to the Department of Environment and Conservation’s fixed-
wing aircraft. We are now in a much better position to tackle fires. We have added to that air wing the four
Helitanks, and this season we had the Fire King, a larger machine that can dump something like 3 785 litres of
water. It can also carry 15 passengers if it is required to deploy firefighters to more distant parts of this state.
With its range of over 600 kilometres, it can cover most of the south west of the state. It was utilised outside
Perth in its first year of operation. The air wing, with air intelligence, attended 148 incidents in the summer just
finished. It made a fantastic contribution to ensuring that we were able to combat those fires, protect people’s
properties and save lives.
2082                                [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]

Again, I thank all the officers and volunteers involved. They have done an outstanding job. It is this government
that has made sure that our firefighters are adequately resourced by putting in place the emergency services levy.
The result has been a huge increase in available facilities. The availability of the helicopters, Helitanks and Fire
King is an example of how this government has resourced the firefighters to combat fires. I thank those people
for the fantastic job they have done over the summer season just ended.
183.     Mr C.C. PORTER to the Attorney General:
I refer to the Attorney General’s statement that the government supports, in principle, all but four of the
recommendations contained in the Archer review of the Corruption and Crime Commission Act, particularly the
recommendation that the act be amended to make it clear that the Corruption and Crime Commission may report
on the conduct of non-public officers in discharging its misconduct provision. Given that the findings in the past
three reports of the CCC on public officers, being those pertaining to Mr Allen, Mr Frewer and now the member
for Ballajura, have been disputed by the parliamentary inspector to the CCC, and given that there has not yet
been sufficient time to assess the efficacy of CCC investigations in terms of whether they can sustain successful
prosecutions of public officers, I ask —
(1)      At a time when the parliamentary inspector appears to take a view that the CCC is experiencing real
         problems in its core function of reporting on public officers, is it wise to proceed incautiously and
         authorise it to be able to report on private citizens?
(2)      Will the Attorney General agree to delay any extension of the CCC’s powers to report on private
         citizens until the present dispute between the commissioner and the parliamentary inspector has been
         satisfactorily resolved and until the CCC has had adequate time to prove itself in its core function of
         reporting on the misconduct of public officers?
Mr J.A. McGINTY replied:
(1)-(2) The answer to the second question is no.
         In respect of the first question, members will recall that there was some argument about whether the
         CCC had the power to make public its opinions on the behaviour of Brian Burke. In my view the
         activities of Brian Burke were such that they had a corrupting effect on the way in which public officers
         did their duty and that the CCC should have the power to report its opinions on the behaviour of people
         like Brian Burke because —
Mr C.C. Porter: Of any private citizen?
Mr J.A. McGINTY: The member should listen to my answer. In my view that was essential to the way in which
public officers perform their function. The ability to report opinions on the conduct of non-public officers would
arise in a public sector corruption context when their conduct had a corrosive effect on the behaviour of the
public officers. Gail Archer did a 12-month review of the CCC act and that was her recommendation. I fully
support it. It is sound policy, rather than getting into arguments about whether the behaviour of people like Brian
Burke should be able to be reported. It is not in the public interest to understand all the background that goes to
make up misconduct or corruption by public officers. I support the view that was adopted by Gail Archer. The
government supports the view that, in the context of public sector corruption, the CCC should be able to report
opinions on people who are not technically public officers, and Brian Burke is exactly that sort of person.
As I said, the answer to the second question, in which the member asked whether we could incautiously rush into
bringing in legislation, is of course no. We are always very cautious in dealing with these matters.
                                                 Second Reading
Resumed from 11 March.
MR J.E. McGRATH (South Perth) [2.56 pm]: The opposition will not oppose the Casino (Burswood Island)
Agreement Amendment Bill 2007. I will explain the reason this legislation is before this house. When the
member for Rockingham was the Minister for the Environment and Minister for Racing and Gaming, the
opposition put a great deal of pressure on the government to dedicate more funding to the maintenance of the
Swan and Canning Rivers. Members know that the Swan River is the state’s most famous icon. It is something
that we should be proud of, and we are very proud of. At the time, there were severe problems with algal blooms
in the Swan and Canning Rivers. The result was severe fish kills, and it was generally conceded that the state
government was not putting enough emphasis on the maintenance of our great rivers.
At about the same time, the Burswood Casino made an application for 50 new electronic gaming machines and
12 table games to be installed in the new $29 million international room that opened in October 2006. I know
                                    [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]                                       2083

that a lot of members attended that opening. It is an outstanding venue and I am sure that it has attracted a lot of
international tourists to Western Australia.
Subject to the approval of the Gaming and Wagering Commission, an extra 200 electronic gaming machines and
23 table games are to be phased in during the refurbishment and expansion of the main gaming floor, which is
due to be completed in 2009. It is something that I and the opposition support, because the Burswood Casino is
the only casino in Western Australia. While the government and the opposition are strongly opposed to the
introduction of poker machines into Western Australia, we agree that we need a facility like Burswood Casino,
which, to my knowledge, is the biggest tourist attraction in Western Australia. If the Gaming and Wagering
Commission gives its approval, by 2009 the casino will be licensed to have 1 750 electronic gaming machines
and 170 table games.
I think the member for Rockingham, the former Minister for Racing and Gaming, learnt in visits to Ascot,
Gloucester Park and similar venues that there are a lot of very smart people who survive in the tough world of
racing and gaming. I am sure that he learnt a few things. I am not sure that he would not have learnt the same
tricks in Rockingham.
Mr M. McGowan: You have been very instructive and very helpful.
Mr J.E. McGRATH: The minister realised that he was confronted with a difficult situation because more
machines were being approved for the Burswood Casino, yet we have an anti-gambling lobby, which Kevin
Rudd has picked up on. Kevin Rudd is going to stop flexi-teller machines from being installed at gambling
venues in the Australia. What will members do if they go to Burswood for dinner and want to buy their wife a
drink but they do not have any cash on them? If Rudd gets his way, there will be no flexi-teller machines at the
casino. I hope the state government opposes any move in that direction. I agree with what Rudd is trying to do in
places that are specifically designed for gambling.
Mr A.J. Carpenter: Do you think there should be more gaming machines at Burswood Casino? I am not
referring to pokies.
Mr J.E. McGRATH: As the population grows, yes. Gaming machines are fine. People can gamble at Burswood
Casino. People want to gamble at Burswood. Similar to the government, the opposition does not support poker
and gaming machines in pubs and clubs.
Mr A.J. Carpenter: Only at Burswood?
Mr J.E. McGRATH: Yes. We have always supported them at Burswood. Burswood is an important part of our
city. When he was the responsible minister, the member for Rockingham, being the wily customer that he is,
wondered how he could keep the anti-gambling lobbyists happy, such as the member for Serpentine-Jarrahdale,
who wants to bring in a bill to reduce gambling, while at the same time keep the environmentalists happy. There
was a huge wave of discontent about the thousands of fish that were dying in our rivers and about the amount of
money that was being spent on the Swan and Canning Rivers. I do not know whether the member for
Rockingham came up with the idea or whether the idea belonged to one of his spin doctors. The idea could have
belonged to one of the advisers sitting in the Speaker’s gallery. The member for Rockingham is saying that it
was his idea. He decided to do a double act and to fix everything in one fell swoop. Consequently, we are
debating the Casino (Burswood Island) Agreement Amendment Bill 2007.
Currently the casino pays the Burswood Park Board, which is a state government entity, a levy of one per cent to
develop and maintain Burswood Park. Under the bill, the levy on electronic gaming machine revenue was to
increase to 1.5 per cent on 1 January 2007 and to two per cent on 1 January 2008. I am sure the Treasurer will
advise whether those increases have come about. The increases will provide about $3.4 million each year to fund
the Burswood Park Board’s costs. This will increase to $4.2 million as additional machines and tables come on-
stream. By 2009 the main gaming room will be refurbished and it will have new machines. The government
expects to raise $15 million over the next five years, which will be devoted to our rivers. Each year about
$3 million will be channelled into the improvement and maintenance of the Swan and Canning Rivers. That
money will come from the increased levy and some of the Burswood Park Board levy. The money will be spent
on projects approved by the minister responsible for rivers. That person is no longer just the member for
Rockingham. He has moved on to bigger and better things. He is now trying to sort out the problems in the
education system. I am not sure whether he has managed to do that. The money will be used for the protection
and enhancement of ecological and community benefits and the amenity of the Swan and Canning Rivers and
associated lands. I am assured that the $3 million is an estimated figure and that it will be surplus to the needs of
the Burswood Park Board. I am concerned that the bill does not specifically state that the money must be spent
on the Burswood Park Board and that any surplus be spent on the Swan and Canning Rivers. There is no defined
mechanism for determining that.
Mr E.S. Ripper: How many more statutes can Burswood Park sustain?
2084                                [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]

Mr J.E. McGRATH: We might end up with a sports stadium at Burswood Park. If the stadium at Subiaco falls
over, we might end up with one at Burswood. It is an important part of our city. I know what the Treasurer is
saying; however, the Burswood Park Board must receive the money it needs to look after its property—the rest
can go to the Swan River Trust.
The bill is supported by the Burswood Entertainment Complex. However, the Town of Victoria Park,
interestingly enough, has some concerns about it. Burswood Casino obviously falls under the precinct of the
Town of Victoria Park. A lot of money could be spent maintaining our river system, but we have to make sure it
is channelled in the right way. Keeping our rivers healthy and ensuring their future requires the expenditure of a
huge amount of taxpayers’ dollars. Because of this great demand, the Town of Victoria Park believes that there
is a risk of lowering the level of expenditure on Burswood Park. During her second reading response in the other
house, the Minister for Racing and Gaming said the following —
         Although this bill does not statutorily fix a set amount for the Burswood Park Board to expend on the
         Swan and Canning Rivers, it is estimated that the amount expended will be in the order of $3 million a
         year. However, that amount is not guaranteed because it is understood that the needs of the Burswood
         Park Board will be met as a priority and those funds left over and above the money required by the
         board will then flow through to the river trust.
The point I was making to the Treasurer was that although the minister in the other place said that the needs of
the Burswood Park Board will be a priority, the bill does not state how that priority will work.
Another concern of the Town of Victoria Park is that the provisions in the bill could become a disincentive for
the government to remain committed to funding the rivers from its traditional funding sources. The funding of
our rivers is so important that it should come from Treasury, not the pockets of punters who line up at Burswood.
The Town of Victoria Park also said that down the track the provisions could lead to the expectation that our
rivers should be funded exclusively from the levy. A situation may arise in which the levy will not provide
enough money for the proper funding of our rivers. I am sure that you, Madam Deputy Speaker, are interested in
the Swan and Canning Rivers.
The reduction in town council representation on the board is another issue. The Town of Victoria Park has two
people on the board. Its representation will be reduced to one person. Inevitably, it believes that that will reduce
the town’s influence in ensuring that the board’s programs and activities remain complementary with those of
the town. The Town of Victoria Park also believes that the inclusion of a board member from the Swan River
Trust reinforces concerns about the likely shift in funding priorities to fix the river system. The Town of Victoria
Park is also concerned about the future of community events and program such as the Olympic torch relay—who
knows whether the torch will come through Perth; the Dalai Lama certainly will not be participating—the
Olympic torch sculpture, the annual West Australian Symphony Orchestra concerts and Carols in the Park,
which is part funded by Burswood Casino and the Burswood Park Board. The Town of Victoria Park asked the
minister in the other place to implement—she agreed—a pictorial and statistical audit as a benchmark against
which future assessments can be measured. Pictures will be taken of the park as it is now and down the track we
can determine whether it has been improved or become worse. We might end up with a situation in which the
rivers are healthy and the lawns in the park are dying.
As I said earlier, the opposition will not oppose this bill. I have been involved in the racing game for a long time,
but I do not frequent the casino a lot; in fact, I do not play casino games. However, a lot of people do, and I feel
for them because that is how they like to spend their leisure time and dollars. I have a problem with the fact that
although the people who play the gaming machines at Burswood will be funding the maintenance of our
magnificent rivers to the tune of $3 million a year, they will get little or no recognition for that. I would prefer
that their money went into a new wing at the children’s hospital or at Fiona Stanley Hospital. It could be called
the “Burswood Casino Wing” and it would be funded by those people who go to Burswood and invest their
money on the machines and take a punt, so to speak, and who have winning days and losing days. When people
go to the hospital, they would see that those people are contributing, in their leisure time and with their leisure
dollar, to something that is quite tangible in the form of a wing of a hospital for sick children or something like
that. Under this agreement there will be no tangible recognition, unless the name of the Swan River is changed to
“Burswood River” or “Last Chance Creek”. Maybe some signage should be put along the river that tells us that
the wonderful, healthy river we have is partly funded by the Burswood Casino complex and the many people
who attend it.
Maybe the government should ensure that when, under this agreement, funding from Burswood is used to
deepen or enhance the welfare of the Swan and Canning Rivers, the public is told that the project is being
financed by money from the Burswood agreement. The public will then know that the people who go to
Burswood and take a chance with their spare money are actually —
Ms S.E. Walker: Gamble.
Mr J.E. McGRATH: Yes, they are gamblers.
                                     [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]                                        2085

Ms S.E. Walker: Tell it how it is; it’s the underprivileged.
Mr J.E. McGRATH: They are not underprivileged. A lot of privileged people —
Ms S.E. Walker: They are. You’re saying call it the “Casino” —
Mr J.E. McGRATH: No, I am not saying that; it was just tongue-in-cheek.
Ms S.E. Walker: It’s taking money from underprivileged people.
Mr J.E. McGRATH: That was just tongue-in-cheek. A lot of people who go to Burswood Casino are not
Ms S.E. Walker: They are.
Mr J.E. McGRATH: A lot of very wealthy people go to the Burswood.
Mr J.J.M. Bowler: Like the member for South Perth!
Mr J.E. McGRATH: I do not go to the Burswood.
If money, in the form of a tax, is being taken from people who gamble, it should be recognised, and I would
prefer that money to fund the wing of a hospital or something like that —
Ms S.E. Walker: Like a support program!
Mr J.E. McGRATH: I think the Burswood already runs programs to help problem gamblers.
Mr A.J. Simpson: That the government doesn’t have to help with.
Mr J.E. McGRATH: Yes. That is an argument for another day. The opposition supports putting the money
raised towards the upkeep of the Swan and Canning Rivers, but I do not think it is an ideal situation. The
government should be paying for the revitalisation and maintenance of the Swan and Canning Rivers. The
money from Burswood Casino should go into consolidated revenue, as does the money from the TAB. The
consolidated revenue money is then spent on hospitals, health, education and all that sort of stuff.
As a member of Parliament whose electorate is bordered by the Swan and Canning Rivers on three sides, I think
the government should allocate a lot more money to the maintenance of those rivers. Evidence from around the
world shows that if that funding is not provided, there is a great possibility that the quality of these rivers will
only get worse. A lot of expert advice has been provided over the past couple of years. I have spoken to people at
the University of Western Australia. I went to the university with the member for Carine one day and we had a
meeting with Jorg Imberger about what could be done for the future of the Swan River. However, the problem is
that it will cost a lot of money. The government needs to be very serious about what it plans to do with the Swan
and Canning Rivers. Although this agreement will put $3 million a year into that program, a lot more money
needs to be spent.
MS S.E. WALKER (Nedlands) [3.15 pm]: I do not gamble; I think I may have been to the Burswood Casino
only two or three times. The casino operates under a state agreement, and whenever I go past it in my car, I
always marvel at how beautifully the gardens are kept and how well-organised the premises are. I am not going
to have a go at the casino. I thank very much the Director General of the Department of Racing, Gaming and
Liquor, Mr Barry Sargeant, for the briefing this morning. He came at short notice and was very helpful, and I
thank him for that.
I have had a quick look at the Casino (Burswood Island) Agreement Amendment Bill, and I admit that I am quite
surprised the bill came on suddenly after the briefing, because it is not on the green daily program paper today —
Dr G.G. Jacobs: There has been a bit of a problem with the green paper today.
Ms S.E. WALKER: Okay. I have learnt a bit about the bill. It was introduced after an August 2006 media
release by the then Minister for the Environment; Racing and Gaming that stated —
         The Carpenter Government has secured the future of the iconic Swan and Canning river system by
         making it the multi-million dollar beneficiary of an increased levy on casino gaming machine revenue.
That really was not true, Treasurer, was it? This agreement will not secure the future of the Swan and Canning
Rivers because the bill does not stipulate what moneys will flow to the Burswood Park Board, which controls the
Burswood Park C-class reserve. The levy is being increased because the casino has acquired new tables and
machines. Under this bill, the board will for the first time be able to split the levy to allow it to contribute to the
upkeep of the Swan River, which I think is a great thing. However, the bill does not state how much money from
the levy will be provided for that. The Treasurer’s second reading speech does not provide an average of how
much money the board receives each year from this levy. Perhaps he could provide that information during
consideration in detail. It is my understanding that the moneys from the casino are distributed to either tax or the
levy to the board. There may be other moneys that go elsewhere.
2086                                 [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]

This bill does not state that a percentage of the levy that is given to the newly constituted board must go to the
Swan and Canning Rivers, and the Liberal Party is not arguing for that. It is not saying that it will move
amendments to prescribe that a certain percentage of the levy that goes to the board has to be applied to the Swan
and Canning Rivers. It is quite possible and feasible that, as a result of the wording of this bill, no money will
ever be expended on the management of the Swan and Canning Rivers.
Clause 6 of proposed schedule 12 of the state agreement is headed “Clause 23 amended”. This bill also
reconstitutes the board, which has been operating since 1984, to allow the government to dominate it. That
means that the government will manage this money. Currently, the board is constituted of two members from the
Town of Victoria Park, two people from Burswood Casino and two people from the independent statutory
commission. In the future the board will be constituted of one person from the Town of Victoria Park, one from
the casino—I think it will be the manager—a representative of the rivers management minister, and two
representatives of the racing and gaming minister. Three members of the board will be put there by ministers;
that is, three of the five members of the board will be from the government.
The government is increasing the number of machines and gaming tables available at Burswood Casino. I am
quite astounded at the member for South Perth and the way in which he is acting as the public relations man for
the Labor Party on this, and in terms of the environment, because that is not what is happening at all. What is
happening in this bill is just a bit of a cover-up really. That is no reflection on the people who run the casino; it is
no reflection on the commission. It is a reflection on members of Parliament, when they have bills before them
and do not look at them, but come into Parliament and say what they are really saying. This bill is saying
nothing, basically. What the minister said in his media statement is laughable, because the bill will not do what
he said. The minister said in August 2006 that $50 million was expected to be generated over the next five years
for projects to improve the health of the river. However, nothing in this bill says that that is ever going to
happen. I was referring to that before I went on to deal with how the board is to be reconstituted so that the
government will snaffle the money from the extra levy. The bill states —
         Clause 23 of the State Agreement is amended . . .
         (a)       by deleting . . . the following words —
                   “The Board must apply moneys received under this paragraph solely for the purpose of
                   performing the functions for which it was or is constituted and to be expended on or directly in
                   relation to the Resort Site and the reasonable administration expenses of the Board.”
That is fair enough. It is an international tourist destination; I understand that. However, that provision will be
deleted and the following words will be substituted —
         “(1A)     The Board must apply moneys received under clause 23(1)(c) for the following purposes:
                   (a)      performing the functions for which it was or is constituted;
I have just read that —
                   (b)      expenditure on or directly in relation to the Resort Site;
That is fair enough —
                   (c)      expenditure on projects approved by the Rivers Management Minister for the
                            protection and enhancement of ecological and community benefits and amenity of the
                            Swan and Canning Rivers and associated lands; and
                   (d)      expenditure on the reasonable administration expenses of the Board.”
That is okay. Even if the board wants to do something to the Swan and Canning Rivers, and even if the three
appointed dominating ministers’ representatives, and maybe a third minister, approve something, they still must
get approval for the projects that they choose. However, in my view, nothing in the bill is mandatory. The
minister might correct that, but I cannot see anything mandatory in the bill. There is no set sum of money to be
applied each year, and no percentage of the levy that flows in to the Burswood board is to be applied to the Swan
and Canning Rivers each year. Frankly, for the opposition to just allow the bill to swim downstream and through
this Parliament —
Mr J.E. McGrath: It’s been through the upper house.
Ms S.E. WALKER: The member for South Perth should not try to cop out of his responsibility. The opposition
is letting this bill swim through —
Mr J.E. McGrath: You vote against it.
Ms S.E. WALKER: Has the member for South Perth told us what this bill is really about? He has not. Maybe I
should move a few amendments so that a certain percentage of the moneys will flow to the river. Why is the
                                   [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]                                      2087

member for South Perth not doing his job? That is what I am saying. Members on that side are not even
supporting the member for South Perth.
Mr J.E. McGrath: You don’t want to see money go into protecting the river.
Ms S.E. WALKER: I do want to see money go into protecting the river. That is what I am saying. I am saying
that this bill does not guarantee that any money will go to the river. I am hoping that the Liberal Party will come
up with some amendments, wave the flag and say, “We are really dinkum. We are looking at bills in this state,
and we are going to test the Labor Party and make sure that it stops bringing in these bills that say nothing.”
What does this bill do? It changes the constitution of the board and it allows the state government to dominate
the board in this way. It does not provide any sort of percentage or any guarantee that the money will go to the
Dr J.M. Woollard: Will you take an interjection, member for Nedlands?
Ms S.E. WALKER: Yes.
Dr J.M. Woollard: There seems to be some question in the house about whether this agreement can be
amended. The member for South Perth is saying that the agreement cannot be amended. The agreement itself
that is dealt with in clause 6 of this amendment bill that is on the table cannot be amended, so the agreement
itself cannot be amended, member for South Perth. I believe the member for Serpentine-Jarrahdale, a Liberal
Party member, has thought very hard about trying to stop some of the damage that is done to people who go to
the casino and who should not gamble there. The member for Serpentine-Jarrahdale could actually introduce
some of his suggestions under clause 5, which is headed “Section 4E inserted”. After proposed section 4E, some
of the examples that the member has, which would help protect some of those people, could be inserted.
Therefore, this bill can be amended, and the opposition could do more to protect people who currently go to that
casino and spend their week’s or their month’s salary.
Ms S.E. WALKER: I thank the member for Alfred Cove.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I am sure the member for Nedlands appreciated that interjection, but —
Mr E.S. Ripper: You are down to nine minutes now, member for Nedlands.
Ms S.E. WALKER: I have only a couple more minutes to go. I am very flattered that I have a briefing and then
all of a sudden the bill comes on. It is lucky that I went off and read what Mr Sargeant gave me. However, I am
also offended that the member for South Perth, knowing the social problems that exist around the casino, stands
and says that there is no tangible recognition of the moneys that Burswood is generating. I would have thought it
is the people who go to the casino who generate the money. The member wants to rename the Swan River the
Burswood Casino river.
Mr J.E. McGrath: That was a tongue-in-cheek remark.
Ms S.E. WALKER: No, it was not. I know the member. No, it was not. Maybe we should say it is the
underprivileged river, if the member for South Perth is going to use that tone and take that sort of attitude. I am
really calling the Labor Party to account.
Mr E.S. Ripper: Your party room meetings must have been fun.
Ms S.E. WALKER: They are more fun now. I am standing here on behalf of my electorate, without fear or
favour, saying what I think this bill does not do and what it should do. I hope that during consideration in detail
the minister can tell me what amount of money the board receives on average, and has received ever since its
inception in 1985, I think, and what moneys he expects to flow out. He has told us, but there is nothing in the
bill; there is no percentage. Maybe he would take an amendment from me about the percentage of moneys that
should flow to the Swan and Canning Rivers, seeing he has bragged about it so loudly in his media statement.
MR M.W. TRENORDEN (Avon) [3.27 pm]: The National Party has considered the Casino (Burswood Island)
Agreement Amendment Bill 2007 and will support it. That is the end of the National Party contribution and the
rest will be the member for Avon’s contribution.
Mr G. Snook: There is a difference, is there?
Mr M.W. TRENORDEN: Yes, there is a difference in this case. I am a significant user of the park. I like to
play golf on that golf course. I think it is a magnificent public golf course. Being a wheatbelt boy, I remember
driving down Great Eastern Highway—members might recall that Great Eastern Highway used to go across the
Causeway—looking to the right and seeing a rubbish tip.
Mr G. Snook: And seagulls.
Mr M.W. TRENORDEN: There were seagulls on the rubbish tip; that is right. The change from the seagulls on
the rubbish tip to what is there now is fantastic. Occasionally, I have been to a movie in the park—not on a great
number of occasions because there are venues that are closer to where I stay in Perth—and I have occasionally
2088                                 [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]

had picnics in the park. On occasions, I have viewed the 26 January Australia Day celebrations from the park.
On one occasion I viewed the Gloucester Park fireworks from across the river in the park. For those members
who want to do that on a day out and not pay to go into Gloucester Park—all members have honorary
membership of the association—it is quite pleasant to watch the Gloucester Park fireworks from across the river
in the park. That park is a credit to whoever put it all together. We often have arguments about the City of Perth.
I am a resident of the wheatbelt; I love living in the wheatbelt, but I also use that park. It is close to the central
business district. As a golfer—a very ordinary golfer—I can tell members —
Mr A.J. Simpson: It’s not as good as the one in Araluen.
Mr M.W. TRENORDEN: The Araluen golf course is a sensational place, but the one thing the Burswood golf
course has —
Mr A.J. Simpson interjected.
Mr M.W. TRENORDEN: I understand that has recently been attended to.
I return to the Casino (Burswood Island) Agreement Amendment Bill. I am a user of that park. It is a real
pleasure to play golf and enjoy that aspect on a public course on a C-class reserve that is available to all Western
Australians. I am not sure how many games a year I play on that course, but it would certainly be in excess of six
or seven. I can tell members that while I am playing golf I see large numbers of locals using the park for a range
of reasons. It is a significant asset for the community. When the member for Warren-Blackwood spoke about
building the football stadium in that area, I considered joining the Taliban to learn how to be a fighter, so that I
could be one of the first people to fight against that proposal! The land is beautifully restored—not restored; I
say “restored” in the sense that it used to be a rubbish tip! It is beautiful parkland and a great asset for the
community. Those of us who have lived most of our lives in the country really love the beaches of Perth. When
we finally get to the beaches of Perth, we really appreciate them. Another matter is the aspect of the city of
Perth. I support arguments for the development of the foreshore. I do not support the actual plan that appeared in
The West Australian. However, I support the proposal to carry out some work in that area. One of the reasons I
did not support the plan that appeared in the newspaper is that it was open to the south. As a regular visitor to
Perth, I sometimes find it hard to walk down Hay Street and other streets when there is a southerly wind
blowing. I imagine the design would be a wind trap and cause great problems. That does not mean people need
the member for Avon to design such a facility; architects and others will resolve those issues. I support the plans
I have seen from the government, the Liberal Party and the City of Perth proposing changes to a small section of
the Burswood Park area to allow water taxis and access to restaurants. All those things will be beautiful for the
city, and I say that as a resident of the wheatbelt, as can the member for Cottesloe, who is also a resident of the
Mr C.J. Barnett: I’d just prefer the member for Avon to stay out of my real electorate! He’s seen prowling there
Mr M.W. TRENORDEN: I am prowling in the member for Cottesloe’s electorate, and he is prowling in what
used to be my electorate but is now the member for Moore’s electorate. However, I still have a lot of friends in
Toodyay, and they report the member’s presence there from time to time, which is of some concern!
I return to the bill.
Mr G. Snook: He’s a good constituent!
Mr M.W. TRENORDEN: Good grief! There is a whole debate in itself, so we will not get into that process!
As someone who does not live in the city, loves living in the central wheatbelt, but who spends some time in the
city, areas such as the C-class reserve are a credit to the community and the board that runs it. It is a credit to the
individuals behind me from the agency, who also play a significant role in the process.
The member for Nedlands raised the issue about changing the board. I also recognise the issue, but I am not sure
that government control is really an issue. It will spend $3 million.
Ms S.E. Walker: There’s no guarantee about that.
Let us go back to what happens in this area. People go to the casino, as I do from time to time. They gamble and
at least a percentage of that activity goes off elsewhere to the common good of the community. Many people tell
me that they buy Lotto tickets not because they want to win Lotto, but because they want to contribute to the
good of the state. I also believe in the Easter bunny! People go to the casino for one purpose only: to lose money.
In the process of losing money, some is taken off for the common good, and I have no problem with that. There
are two processes: the state gains taxation revenue from the activities conducted at the casino and the casino pays
a charge that provides funding for the Burswood grounds. The grounds are beautifully kept. If it were to be
decided that expansion of that activity could be of use to the area, I would support the decision. I wonder why
                                    [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]                                        2089

the City of Canning is sneaking into the argument, but I will not discuss that. In my early days in politics I stayed
in my ex-mother-in-law’s unit. She does not like me to refer to her as my ex-mother-in-law, but nevertheless,
that is what I call her. She has a beautiful unit on the riverfront at Shelley, and the view from Shelley across the
water is magnificent. I will not argue about the Canning River.
In summary, we are remarkably lucky and fortunate—neither is correct; it is the result of planning 100 years
ago—to have areas such as Kings Park, and more recent amenities such as the C-class reserve at Burswood, that
the people of Western Australia, and not just Perth, use in large numbers. The National Party supports the bill,
but I wanted to make some points of my own as a regular user of those grounds, of which I am very appreciative.
DR G.G. JACOBS (Roe) [3.37 pm]: When I saw the Casino (Burswood Island) Agreement Amendment Bill on
the notice paper and then heard the minister give his second reading speech, I was very surprised at the brevity of
his speech. I am concerned about what the bill does not say and the detail it does not address. I recognise what
other members have said about the concept and how good the concept is. However, some of us might take issue
with the dressing up of the takings of gambling as being necessary for an environmental cause, in order to make
it look good. The minister’s very brief second reading speech raised very many questions about details. It is
almost as if the government is saying that it will recommend a state agreement, that it will sign off on it, that it
all sounds very good, that the concepts are great and that it will not worry too much about the detail. The
minister may say that it can be left to the regulations. One thing I have learnt in this place over the past three
years is that one does not necessarily leave anything up to the regulations. If the law is not what it should be, we
cannot abrogate our responsibility by leaving it up to the regulations. It is very important that we go through the
details of the legislation and make sure that it is designed in such a way that it will do what we want it to do.
The second reading speech indicates that the Burswood Park Board is limited to expending its funds solely on or
directly in relation to the reserve and the reasonable administration expenses of the board. The argument is that
that limitation needs to be expanded so that some of those funds can be directed to the riverpark. That is very
wishy washy and does not give us an assurance that the moneys that will be raised will be used to deal with
environmental issues in the riverpark. As the shadow Minister for the Environment, I raise the issue of the
protection and enhancement of the ecological and community benefits and amenity of the Swan and Canning
Rivers and associated lands. The member for Moore would understand this issue because we went through this
process during debate on the Swan and Canning Rivers Management Act 2006. We are very concerned that there
is a bit of smoke and mirrors. Let us consider the issue of the protection and enhancement of the ecological and
community benefits. Are we talking about the Swan Canning Riverpark shoreline? Are we talking about the
greater shoreline? Are we talking about the waters of the Swan River? Who will administer this agreement?
What will we get for spending this money? We all know that the Swan River is under environmental threat.
Increasing environmental problems are threatening the waters of the Swan River. We are under no illusion that
the supposed $3 million—if only we could get an assurance about how much money will be raised in this
process—will go anywhere near addressing the environmental threats to the Swan and Canning Rivers.
Last week the member for Moore and I visited a farmer called Lex Stone, who is involved in dryland salinity
management. He showed us that, historically, he had pumped groundwater and used salt-tolerant plants to
address the salinity problem. He showed us the deep drainage work he had done to try to overcome the ever-
increasing level of salt on his property. His story was featured in The West Australian recently. He is using
saltbush to mitigate salt levels on his land. There is no doubt that his land sits very squarely in the Avon
catchment area, which in essence drains into the Swan River.
Incredibly difficult and wide-ranging problems affect the Swan River. We hope that the government does not
believe that this bill will solve all those problems. Admittedly, we must start somewhere. However, I have some
questions about the riverpark shoreline. The riverpark shoreline extends from two metres below the high-water
mark to two metres above the high-water mark measured horizontally above the surface of the land and includes
the surface of any structure built to retain the land. Are we talking about environmental mitigation measures that
involve the riverpark shoreline? These measures will have to be managed. The Swan and Canning Rivers
Management Act provides that the trust that manages the act must not enter into an agreement under subsection
(4) except with the prior approval of the minister, and I presume that that minister is the Minister for the
Environment. I will explain this a little more by saying that this is not as easy as it is made to sound in the second
reading speech. We hope that certain details will be dealt with in the regulations. However, members on this side
of the house are concerned about the lack of detail in the legislation.
Under this legislation, expenditure by the Swan and Canning Rivers Foundation, which is referred to in the Swan
and Canning Rivers Management Act, which act is referred to in the second reading speech for this bill, must be
approved by the environment minister, who is responsible for this legislation. Will the moneys raised from
Burswood Casino through increased takings, à la a levy, go into the Swan and Canning Rivers Foundation
account? That account was established under the bill that I referred to previously that went through this place
under the carriage of the member for Moore. Is this a special purpose account under the Financial Management
Act 2006 that will require the approval of the Treasurer? Will the funds raised through the financial
2090                                 [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]

arrangements provided for in this legislation be used to manage the environmental mitigation mechanisms for the
Burswood C-class reserve?
It is not just about managing a garden and a lawn. If it were just about managing a garden and a lawn, that would
be fine, and I recognise the comments of the member for Avon. However, if we are to make a real difference to
the environmental problems affecting the Swan River and the shoreline of the Burswood C-class reserve, the
government needs to give us more details, rather than just saying warm and fuzzy things. One thing that I have
learnt in the past few weeks since I took on shadow responsibility for the environment portfolio, which was
previously very aptly and expertly handled by the member for Capel —
Dr J.M. Woollard: Are you now going to support the proposal for no more logging in native forests?
Dr G.G. JACOBS: That is another issue and I will deal with that at another time. There is one thing about
environmental management that one has to hang one’s hat on. There are many issues to deal with under this
portfolio. There are many things that people want to do and there are competing forces. However, environmental
managers must be responsible. When I say “responsible”, I mean that they must be responsible to the
environment. They must be responsible to the people, such as those in Esperance who have been affected by the
lead fiasco. However, to be fair and balanced, they also must be responsible to the proponents; that is, the
proponents are not to be mucked around with or subjected to extended and tortuous processes that frustrate
otherwise valid projects.
Dr J.M. Woollard interjected.
Dr G.G. JACOBS: I will get to that. That is a completely separate issue. I thank the member for Alfred Cove for
her interjection. Are we really serious about environmental management? Is this legislation, as the member for
South Perth said, not just about providing a warm and fuzzy feeling to placate the anti-gambling lobby—with the
exception of the member for Serpentine-Jarrahdale? I support some of the thrust of the matters he has raised
about the pain caused by people’s addiction to gambling.
In a previous debate, I referred to an amendment to the State Supply Commission Amendment Bill regarding the
window-dressing of the requirement of our fleet cars to minimise, so far as is practicable, the greenhouse gas
emissions associated with the vehicles that we drive. That amendment seeks to maximise, as far as practicable,
the fuel efficiency of the cars that we drive. It is most important to not just make platitudes that are warm and
fuzzy and make us feel good. However, I was perhaps a little cynical. That might reflect the three years that I
have been a member of Parliament. I note the structure of the Burswood Park Board, and the member for
Nedlands touched on this. It is evident to me that in order to restructure the board under this agreement so that
money can be spent on the environment of the Swan River, the board membership is to change. Currently there
are six board members, two of whom are ministerial appointees. Under the new arrangement, the number of
ministerial appointees will increase to three. Excuse me for being sceptical, but I believe this could be a way of
interfering with appointments and putting government ministerial appointees on a board so that those appointees
would form a majority. Although the concept of the bill is good, it is very light on detail. It refers to the inability
of the board to spend moneys on further environmental mitigation measures on the reserve that would impact on
the river. It refers also to protection, enhancement and community benefits but really does not say anything. It
does not mention which mechanisms in the Swan and Canning Rivers Management Act it impacts on. Are we
talking about the river shoreline? It does not mention whether the funds that are to go into the Swan and Canning
Rivers Foundation that has been created under that legislation will be used on a particular measure to benefit and
improve the health of the Swan River, rather than to provide us with a warm fuzzy feeling.
This legislation does not go far enough to deal with the environmental problems that are impacting on the Swan
and Canning Rivers. We do not want the government to trot out this legislation so that it can claim to the public
that it has made a difference to the environmental health and welfare of the Swan River. If we think that, we are
in for a great disappointment. It is very irresponsible to believe that this legislation will solve our all ills. There
are few details in the bill. We wonder whether the government has abrogated its responsibility and is trying to
get funds by another method. It is abrogating its responsibility for what it should be doing for the Swan River.
Members talk about only the riverpark. I accept that is important to the people who live in the city. However, the
health of the river is not just about the riverpark; it is about the whole of the catchment area, which is bigger than
Tasmania and drains into the Swan and Canning Rivers. Has the government given us an assurance about the
moneys? Will the moneys go to where this bill suggests they should go? What are the moneys likely to be spent
on? Will they make a difference? I want this bill to make a difference. We need much more detail in this bill,
otherwise it is just a warm and fuzzy to placate the anti-gambling lobby by showing that the government is doing
something for the environment that is politically correct. It must be better than that. The bill is deficient in its
MR A.J. SIMPSON (Serpentine-Jarrahdale) [3.56 pm]: I will add a few comments on the Casino (Burswood
Island) Agreement Amendment Bill 2007. I very strongly believe that we should protect people from gambling.
The government can put something in place to help them. This bill will allow money to be taken from the
                                    [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]                                      2091

Burswood Casino to be spent on the Swan River. Where has the money come from, and are we going about this
the wrong way? Perhaps we should use the money that we take to protect the people from whom we take it. I
will go through the history of gambling in Australia. The Australian Gaming Council’s publication “A Database
on Australia’s Gambling Industry 2006/07” states —
         Since the First Fleet arrived in Australia the gambling industry has been a part of the Australian society
         and its economy. Gambling has a long established tradition as an acceptable recreational activity in
         Australian society. However, for much of Australia’s history most of today’s popular gambling
         activities remained illegal. Off-course betting, casino gaming and lotteries were made illegal in all
         states. This resulted in a large illegal betting market, with unauthorised bookmakers operating out of
         hotels, billiard saloons and other legitimate businesses such as hairdressers and tobacconists. The 1960s
         and 1970s saw change for Australia’s gambling industry. During this period state governments began to
         legalise many popular gambling activities including off-course wagering, lotteries and gaming.
The Western Australian government takes money from the TAB, which is a government agency. The money
goes back to the community via the average owner of the horse, dog, trotter, galloper and so forth when they
win. That money then flows back into the community through people who train horses or clean out yards and so
forth. A similar situation applies with the money received from the lottery. The member for Avon mentioned that
he buys lottery tickets to support Lotterywest grants. It is important to look at that. The Burswood Casino pays
taxes, and I suppose that the money spent at the casino comes back to the state in some way. It could be argued
that a proportion of all the money spent comes back to the government through the goods and services tax and
that the Burswood Casino is just like any other hotel.
I have an issue with problem gambling. The average punter has a bet, and I am not saying that that is not right.
Are we doing everything we can to protect people who have a gambling problem? The member for South Perth
indicated that Burswood Casino does have a program to help young people with gambling problems. Burswood
Casino runs its own program; it is a problem gambling hotline. Not everyone suffers from a gambling problem at
casinos; people gamble on all types of things. I will bring to this house a private member’s bill, which I have
started to put together. The member for South Perth mentioned a flexi teller to get money out, and in my private
member’s bill I state that people should not be able to walk up to an ATM in the casino area and get cash
advances on their credit cards in order to gamble.
Debate interrupted, pursuant to standing orders.
                          DAYLIGHT SAVING AMENDMENT BILL (NO. 3) 2007
                                                    First Reading
Bill read a first time, on motion by Mr G. Snook.
Explanatory memorandum presented by the member.
                                                   Second Reading
MR G. SNOOK (Moore) [4.02 pm]: I move —
         That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill has its origins in the other place and was first introduced into the Legislative Council by Hon Norman
Moore on 25 October 2007. The Legislative Council passed this bill on 3 April 2008 and it has been transmitted
to this place.
The Daylight Saving Amendment Bill (No. 3) 2007, unlike its predecessors, provides for a three-year trial period
before a referendum is held. Previous acts relating to daylight saving have provided for a one-year trial before a
referendum is held. This bill seeks to amend the Daylight Saving Act 2006 by providing for a referendum to be
held after two trial periods. It therefore provides for the referendum to be held in 2008 rather than 2009.
One of the objects of this bill is to ensure that the referendum is not held in conjunction with the next state
election. The purpose of the bill is threefold: first, because daylight saving is a divisive issue in the community,
its future should be determined as soon as possible. It is an issue that should be resolved one way or the other
before the next state election.
Importantly, because it has the capacity to divert public attention away from major election issues such as health,
education, law and order and the future development of this state, we should endeavour to avoid allowing it to
dominate a state election. Presumably, the majority of political parties would accept the outcome of a
referendum held before the election and it would not be a distracting issue at the election.
Secondly, the bill will guarantee that a referendum is actually held. It is not inconceivable that an incoming
government, after the next state election, could legislate to remove the referendum requirement before the
referendum is held. Governments and political parties do not always accept that commitments made in one
Parliament are commitments that should survive an election. This bill will ensure that the referendum is held
2092                                 [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]

during the term of this Parliament and will guarantee that all Western Australian voters have a say on the future
of daylight saving.
Thirdly, the bill is a proactive response to significant community pressure for the referendum to be held sooner
rather than later. Two trial periods, rather than three, are considered by a large number of Western Australians to
be sufficient time for them to make a judgement on the merits or otherwise of daylight saving. It is
acknowledged that the first trial period was a shortened period in view of the timing of the introduction of the
legislation and it is therefore, under the circumstances, accepted that a second trial period was appropriate and,
thankfully, has just recently been completed. However, the bill is predicated on the view that a third trial is
unnecessary and that Western Australians will be ready to vote at the referendum this year rather than waiting
until 2009.
The bill is not for or against daylight saving; it simply seeks to bring forward the referendum by a year.
Opponents of daylight saving are understandably keen to express their opposition to daylight saving in the
referendum ballot. Similarly, supporters of daylight saving are keen to have a decision made on the issue and to
have daylight saving entrenched in the future.
During debate on the Daylight Saving Bill 2006 all members of the government and the opposition were given a
free vote on the bill. In their consideration of this bill, it would be appropriate if all members were afforded the
same opportunity to vote according to either their conscience or to the wishes of their electorates. I commend the
bill to the house.
Debate adjourned, on motion by Mr C.J. Barnett.

                                                  Second Reading
Resumed from 19 March.
MR G.M. CASTRILLI (Bunbury) [4.06 pm]: I support the member for Hillarys’ private member’s bill. This
bill will ensure minimum mandatory sentences are introduced for offences involving serious assaults on police
officers and other public officers and, if a person is then found guilty, he will not be able to have the offence
recorded as a spent conviction. I support that and I fully endorse what the member for Hillarys is doing.
I have a great deal of respect for our police, the very dangerous job that they have and the very important work
they do. I believe to be a police officer requires a very special person. I certainly would not be able to do their
work. I certainly do not want to do their job, nor would I ever contemplate doing their job. The police are our
agents in the field. We expect everything from our police. We want their protection, we demand their protection,
and we expect our police to put their lives on the line every day as part of their job. We expect them to respond
immediately; however, they are not afforded protection in return. That protection is what they deserve and need.
In September 2006, as we all know in this house, I supported the member for Murray when he introduced the
Police (Compensation for Injured Officers) Amendment Bill. This bill has not been advanced by this government
since it was debated. That was in 2006. Police officers in Western Australia are not eligible for the usual
workers’ compensation if they leave the police force with residual illnesses or injuries that arise from carrying
out their duties.
We have to ask the question: does this government support our police? I would have to say the answer is clearly
no. We are all aware of the totally inadequate amount of compensation awarded to Sergeant Shane Gray through
the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act. Sergeant Gray was carrying out his duties in January 2006 when he was
severely injured and was lucky to survive an attack from a very dangerous man who was wanted for the double
rape and murder of two young women.
We need to support all our police officers right across our state. We need to demonstrate to them that we actually
care and support them. We need to show them and demonstrate to them that by passing this bill we are sending a
clear message to the community that if a police officer or a public officer is seriously injured the offender will go
to jail. Assaulting a police officer is happening all too frequently these days. It is just not on; it has got to stop.
We need to get serious about this whole issue. If somebody is duly convicted of seriously injuring a police
officer or a public officer, after going through due process, then he should go to jail. It is as simple as that and
there should not be any question about it.
In the south west in the past financial year there were 50 assaults on police, and 16 assaults have already been
committed this year. However, the running sheet for the perpetrators who are being dealt with by the courts
shows fines and suspended sentences that do not reflect the crimes. This sends the wrong message to the police.
When one person is fined $500 for not wearing a seatbelt while another person is fined $400—this was the
decision handed down by the court in July last year—for poking a police officer in the eye with a lit cigarette,
the situation is totally ridiculous. The old saying must come into play: “When you do the crime, you must serve
                                    [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]                                      2093

the time.” We need to bring some commonsense back into our so-called justice system. Instead of being called a
justice system, it should be called a legal system.
I understand that there are mass complexities in the legal process, but members in this place have the power to
stem the surge in police assaults by passing this bill. There is a shortage of police across Western Australia and
more pressure is being put on those serving now. We are recruiting police officers from other countries. In
addition, we are trying to recruit new officers locally. If we do not protect or support them, they will be
wondering what they are doing in the job.
I will mention some of the instances that have occurred in the south west. On Christmas Eve last year two police
officers in Harvey had to face the real threat that they had been infected with hepatitis C after being spat on by
an offender who knew that he had a highly infectious disease. He knew he was putting the lives of those officers
at risk. The social and emotional implications for officers put in that situation are huge. The two officers had to
live with that threat hanging over their head for three months. However, the threat hanging over the head of the
perpetrator was much less. He was not sent to jail; instead, he received an eight-month suspended sentence.
On 28 November last year an offender punched an officer in the face and shoulder and he received a $100 fine
and a good behaviour bond. In Bunbury in September an officer was punched in the chest and the offender
received a $300 fine. In Margaret River in October an officer was punched in the face and scratched in the eyes
and the neck and the offender was allowed to go free with a 12-month suspended sentence.
In another instance, while police were in the process of restraining the accused on the ground, she proceeded to
bite a sergeant on his lower left leg. The police had to resort to physical force to make the accused release her
grip on the sergeant’s leg. The accused actions caused the skin to break on the sergeant’s leg. He was caused
considerable discomfort and marks were left on his leg from the accused’s teeth. The sergeant sort medical
attention from a general practitioner. Blood tests were taken and immunisation boosters were given. By her
admission, the accused had hepatitis C. The accused was conveyed to the police rail unit, where she was
processed and the present charge was preferred. She appeared in the court 11 times before eventually being
sentenced on 26 July last year in the Perth Magistrates Court and receiving a $700 fine. This is despite her
having an extensive criminal record, which is 35-plus charges, and the seriousness of that assault.
Our police are forced to deal with these kinds of circumstances day in and day out. Our police officers are
protecting the community, but the state government-controlled justice system is not protecting them and this
must be rectified. Police officers are fed up with this sort of leniency. Members on this side of the house are sick
of it. The public is fed up with these ridiculously light and meaningless sentences. At all the meetings in
Bunbury that I have attended the issues that continually arise are antisocial behaviour, breaking and entering, and
lack of respect. The police are trying to enforce the law to protect the community. The police are the first people
the community turn to when things go wrong. However, with these ridiculous sentences, we are sending a clear
message that we do not value the police as we should. Therefore, we are promoting a lack of respect. We can
turn that around by supporting this bill.
I congratulate the member for Hillarys for bringing this bill to the house. As the shadow Minister for Police and
Emergency Services, I know how much respect he and the other members on this side of the house have for our
MR J.E. McGRATH (South Perth) [4.16 pm]: Mr Acting Speaker, what a disgrace. We have before us the
Acts Amendment (Assaults on Police Officers) Bill 2008, which provides for the safety of our police officers
and, apart from you, Mr Acting Speaker, there are six out of 31 government members in this house. I am pleased
that the member for Yokine, a former police officer and a respected one as well, is in the house.
Mr J.A. McGinty: There is not one member of the National Party in attendance.
Mr J.E. McGRATH: They are in the government’s coalition, not the Liberal Party’s.
Dr J.M. Woollard: Plus one Independent Liberal.
The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr P.B. Watson): Members, can we get back to the bill.
Mr J.E. McGRATH: Like the member for Bunbury, I support the bill introduced by the member for Hillarys.
To recap, this bill provides that a minimum mandatory term of imprisonment of not less than nine months be
imposed in circumstances where a public officer is assaulted and, as a result of that assault, bodily harm is
inflicted upon the public officer; that a minimum mandatory term of imprisonment of not less than 12 months be
imposed in circumstances where a public officer is assaulted and, as a result of that assault, grievous bodily harm
is inflicted upon the public officer; and that the summary conviction penalty for serious assaults on public
officers be a minimum mandatory term of imprisonment of not less than three months. The bill also provides that
an offender who is guilty of seriously assaulting a public officer will not be able to have the offence recorded as
a spent conviction.
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I am sure that members agree that anybody who assaults a member of our police force should be imprisoned. At
the moment, that is not happening. Why are stronger laws needed to protect the police? In the eyes of the public,
the authority of the police force is being undermined by the court’s inability to justly punish offenders who
assault police officers. The sentence that is imposed must act as a general deterrent against similar events
occurring in the future. We all grew up with respect for police officers, but somewhere along the line that respect
has gone. When we were very young and were at school, we feared police officers, and later on we respected
them, but that has disappeared.
The Victorian Sentencing Manual states that attacks on government officers are to be considered by the courts as
among the most serious categories of murder. The Victorian case of Debs v Roberts involved two police officers
who were shot by two men trying to avoid apprehension. The judge said —
         The proper sentence for the murder of a police officer in the execution of the officer’s duty, in order to
         escape apprehension for serious criminal conduct, is life imprisonment. Upholding the law requires it.
         Protection of the police, and protection of the community they serve, require it.
The judge went on to say —
         A safe and functioning society depends upon its police force. An attack upon a serving police officer is
         an attack upon society itself.
I am sure we all agree with that. Violence against police officers correlates with an increase in the number of
police officers leaving the force. Unfortunately, I am not talking about isolated cases. I was told that there were
14 assaults in Northbridge in one week in March this year. Of those 14 assaults, six were against police officers.
On 11 March 2008 The West Australian reported that there had been four attacks on police officers over the
previous weekend. During one of those attacks, an officer was king-hit and choked. His partner was struck twice
in the face. An off-duty constable was knocked unconscious and then headbutted, kicked and punched as he lay
on the ground. Another officer was kneed and punched. What do such attacks do for the morale and job
satisfaction of our police officers? On 20 January the Sunday Times reported that Western Australia Police is
losing more than one officer a day. Apart from the personal trauma that is involved when a police officer leaves
the force, this amounts to a loss to the public of both experience and money, because it costs money to train more
officers. According to Mike Dean from the Western Australian Police Union, it costs between $80 000 and
$100 000 to fully train and equip an officer. The Sunday Times also reported that while police chiefs are
confident the recruiting problem has been solved, the Western Australian Police Union is not so convinced. The
force lost 391 officers last year. In 2003 that exit number was only 206. Fortunately, 564 officers graduated last
year, adding an extra 155 officers. What do those officers have to look forward to when they embark on a new
career as an officer who protects the community? New officers are confronted with a barrage of reports about
police officers being the victims of violence and life-altering injuries. How will this affect the departure rate
from Western Australia Police? There is no doubt that police are being sent to the front line to combat an
increasingly violent society. Statistics show that violent crime and antisocial behaviour among the youth of today
is growing at an alarming rate. This is a very serious problem.
Let us look at some recent examples of violence against police officers. We all know about the case involving
Constable Matthew Butcher. He is suffering from paralysis, possible permanent brain damage and other severe
injuries following an incident outside a Joondalup pub. Constable Butcher was bashed in early February 2008.
Another case that was well publicised involved two men who were convicted of assaulting three police officers
at a Meekatharra hotel. One of those officers was a policewoman. She was kicked and stomped on—how
disgusting. The next example highlights the sentencing situation in our state. Two police officers were attacked
near Herdsman Lake, which is in the northern suburbs. The 43-year-old offender put one officer in a headlock,
dragged her along the ground, removed her Taser stun gun and fired it into her body. He doused her in capsicum
spray and then went after her partner. He gouged her partner’s eyes while trying to remove his pistol. What
penalty did he receive? He received a 12-month community-based order. What a disgrace! That is a joke.
Mr R.F. Johnson: The Minister for Police and Emergency Services said that this sort of thing doesn’t happen.
Mr J.E. McGRATH: It will be interesting to hear what the minister says.
Several members interjected.
The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr P.B. Watson): Order, members!
Mr J.E. McGRATH: In spite of that type of soft penalty, the Premier has repeatedly rejected calls for
mandatory jail terms for people who assault police officers. He said that judges need flexibility. We understand
that. However, if a sportsman put a hand on an umpire or pushed an umpire—I refer to sport, because that is the
field in which I was involved during my career as a journalist—he was out for a long time. If a sportsman
assaulted an umpire, he would never get back into the game; his career would be over. Assaults on police
officers should be regarded in a similar way. A police officer should be untouchable. Police officers are there to
do a job. They should be able to do their job. If a police officer behaves improperly, he will have to go through a
                                    [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]                                        2095

certain process. Where is the flexibility for our police officers? I refer to a case that happened on the foreshore in
my electorate when a person used his mobile phone to photograph an officer. This case is unbelievable. The
police officer had an offender on the ground. The situation was rather difficult. I think the incident happened
during the Skyshow, an event that is always a nightmare for police officers. The officer had the guy on the
ground and he was seen to give him a bit of a short-arm jab. Someone produced a photograph of the incident and
the officer had to go through a departmental inquiry. He name was printed in the media and he was put under
undue stress. That is the society in which we live today. Police officers have to carry out their duties whilst
abiding by a strict code of conduct. When the member for Yokine was active in the police force, police officers
did not have to follow such strict codes of conduct. What happens to officers who abide by a strict code of
conduct? They are assaulted at a moment’s notice by society’s low-lifes.
Another situation involved transit guards and the Rail, Tram and Bus Industry Union. We have all seen the
disgusting footage of transit guards being attacked by thugs at the Perth train station. The Western Australian
Police Union wants train transit guards and the police rail union to be merged into Western Australia Police.
What sort of protection will they be afforded if we do not introduce mandatory sentencing for these sorts of
crimes? Anyone who bashes or assaults these public officers while they are going about their job should go to
jail. Police officers have been let down by judges and the courts.
In closing I will say three things: first, anyone who assaults a police officer should be imprisoned; second, the
judiciary has let down police officers and the community; and third, this legislation addresses that anomaly and
should be supported by the government.
MR C.C. PORTER (Murdoch) [4.27 pm]: The Acts Amendment (Assaults on Police Officers) Bill relates to
the single most important public policy issue in this state. It is also the single biggest difference in that policy
between the two major political parties that sit in this house.
As a lawyer, I believe that there are very rare occasions on which we should consider using minimum mandatory
sentencing as a tool. The opposition’s Acts Amendment (Assaults on Police Officers) Bill will have the effect of
providing a minimum mandatory sentence of 12 months when grievous bodily harm is committed against an
officer; a minimum mandatory sentence of nine months for assault occasioning bodily harm when harm is
occasioned; and a minimum mandatory sentence of three months for an assault occasioning bodily harm when
the sentence is handed down in the Magistrates Court.
We should introduce minimum mandatory sentencing only in situations in which there is a problem of
undeniable, agreed and crucial public significance and in which minimum mandatory sentencing is more
effective than all other nominated alternatives. That should always be the rule when deciding whether to
implement mandatory sentencing. To determine whether it should be used here and now, we must understand the
problem and the nominated alternatives that are said to be able to improve the situation. I will outline the
problem clearly for the house.
Our society has moved on from the stage it was at 15 or 20 years ago when not only were police officers
respected, but also their safety, by virtue of the mere wearing of their uniform, was sacrosanct. At some point we
moved to a stage of sad indifference towards the authority of police officers. We have now reached a completely
different stage. If people speak with attending police officers, they will be told that what police officers all too
often face is a situation of positive, active and palpable contempt for their presence. That is a fact. The
manifestation of that contempt is very real. From the point of attendance to the point of arrest, police face
escalating abuse, aggression and physical violence. I refer to the case of Cutter v R and to the dissenting
judgement of His Honour Justice Kirby. This has always struck me as an intriguing description. In describing an
offender who stabbed a Western Australian police officer in the throat with a knife, he said that the offender had
a past history of passionate antipathy to the police. That is a very interesting, euphemistic use of legal language.
That is a description of what is commonly known as a cop hater. In debating the problem of violence against
police, I cannot put it any simpler than this: it used to be the case 15 or 20 years ago that police would only face
cop haters who were hardened criminals who had constantly come in contact with the criminal justice system.
The problem that we now face—and it is a real problem—is that every time police attend perhaps at a suburban
party in the northern suburbs, every third or fourth attendee at that party, fuelled by alcohol and informed by
years of undisciplined and intemperate behaviour, becomes a cop hater. That means that the attending police face
ever-escalating situations of violence and potential violence. It is interesting that some members who have
spoken today have talked about some of the ways—albeit minor ways—in which Parliament has contributed to
that problem, one example is by expanding the reach of equal opportunities legislation into the appointment of
police, which I acknowledge is proper, appropriate and practical. However, that legislation has decreased the
physical size and attributes of police. No-one should be under any illusion that those things did not previously
contribute significantly to the authority that police had when attending the scenes of offending.
Parliament has also placed greater scrutiny on police in the discharge of their functions than existed 10 or 15
years ago. Again, that is quite appropriate and proper, but it has its effect.
2096                                 [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]

The most significant effect that Parliament has had in contributing to the problem is that it has lost control over
sentences handed down to those who assault police, and particularly those whose assault on police is at the
bottom end of the hierarchy of assaults—below that of doing grievous bodily harm—but whose assault does
bodily harm to police. I do not think either side of this house would disagree that there is an overarching
disparity between the community expectation of an appropriate sentence for those who assault a police officer to
the level of bodily harm, and what is actually happening.
The question before this house is: how can Parliament assert itself in the sentencing process? If, as it appears,
there is agreement from both sides of this house that sentences need to be stiffened, how can that come about?
How can it be achieved? Two clear legislative alternatives are before this house, and it is worth examining—
albeit briefly—what they both are.
This is Labor’s alternative in a nutshell: it wants to increase maximums—not something with which the
opposition takes dispute. In effect, the maximum penalty for assaulting a public officer to the level of bodily
harm, but not in circumstances of aggravation, will be raised from a real penalty under the old system of 6.6
years to a maximum penalty of seven years. The summary penalty for offences that, under the old system, could
possibly be meted out by a magistrate of three years’ imprisonment or a fine of $36 000 would remain the same,
meaning a 0.4 of a year increase for assault on a public officer resulting in bodily harm, not in circumstances of
aggravation, which is at the end of the spectrum where the real problem lies. Secondly, aggravated assaults
undertaken whilst the offender is in company or is armed will be increased from 6.6 years to 10 years. It used to
be case that there would be a penalty in the Magistrates Court of three years’ imprisonment or a fine of $36 000.
Under the government’s proposal, that can no longer be dealt with in the Magistrates Court. Thirdly, for an
assault occasioning grievous bodily harm to an officer, the maximum will be increased from an effective 6.6
years to 14 years. The opposition acknowledges that that is a considerable stiffening of the maximum penalty. I
will tell the house a hard and unpalatable truth: what effect will increasing maximums have?
Mr M.J. Cowper: Zero!
Mr R.F. Johnson: Nothing!
Mr C.C. PORTER: That may be slight hyperbole, but the effect will be near to zero. Increasing maximums has
not had, in comparable areas, the effect of significantly increasing penalties at the lower end of the scale . What
is more, the real problem lies not at the grievous bodily harm level, where the maximum penalty is to be
increased from 6.6 years to 14 years, but at the lower end of offences, which represent disrespect for the
authority of the police uniform. At that level the maximum penalty will be increased by 0.4 of a year. When I say
that a large increase in maximum penalty will have negligible effect, 0.4 of a year will have zero effect.
Mr R.F. Johnson: That is exactly why they introduced that legislation —
Mr C.C. PORTER: Part B of the Labor plan is to move some, but not all, of the sentencing for assaults on
public officers from the Magistrates Court to the District Court. I have heard the Minister for Police say on many
occasions when he has heard examples such as the officer’s own Taser being used upon her, “Don’t worry,
because under our plan that will be lifted to the District Court. A District Court judge, not a magistrate, will
sentence on those facts.” The situation will be that some, but not all, assaults will be sentenced by District Court
judges, rather than magistrates.
Dr G.G. Jacobs: Does it increase the penalty?
Mr C.C. PORTER: No, it does not increase the penalty, which is the hook. Previously, an assault on a public
officer could and often would be dealt with—if it were not a GBH offence—by a magistrate. Under Labor’s
proposals, an aggravated assault on a public officer will need to be dealt with by a District Court judge. If it is an
assault to the level of bodily harm but not aggravated; if bodily harm is occasioned to an officer but by someone
who is not in company or using a weapon—and I can assure members that that happens—that will still be what
is called an either-way offence, which can still be dealt with in the Magistrates Court. All of that is a moot point
in any event, because the rationale that simply because an offender, ceteris paribus—on the same set of facts—
has been sentenced by a District Court judge rather than a magistrate is going to ensure imprisonment as the
disposition is simply a nonsense. I say that if, as it appears, this house and the people of this state are dissatisfied
with the sentencing being meted out in the Magistrates Court at present, simply moving some sentences, but not
all, up to the District Court is not going to solve the problem. I will give members one example, which I think is
probably the most interesting because it is the least hyperbolic of many I have seen.
This letter was sent into the police union, as I understand it. I will not read out the names of the individual. It
states —
         While police were restraining an offender on the ground who was under arrest in November 2006 she
         bit one of the officers on the left lower leg and police had to resort to physical force to make the
         accused release her grip.
                                    [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]                                        2097

         The offender’s teeth marks were left on the officer’s leg and the skin broken by the bites with blood
         tests and immunisation boosters then being required. By her own admissions, the accused had hepatitis
         She appeared in court 11 times before eventually being sentenced in July 2007 in Perth Magistrates
         Court, and receiving a $700 fine.
I would like to see how that situation fits into the Labor Party’s proposals for reform. It was a bodily harm
offence, not a GBH offence; it was not occasioned in circumstances of aggravation, so the grand total of increase
in potential maximum penalty is 0.4 of a year, and it could still be sentenced in the Magistrates Court—in any
event it would not be improved if it went off to the District Court. The sentence is not improved because there is
a range of discretion. If members do a scan of Supreme Court decisions, single-judge appeals over the last seven
years—appeals of matters that have come from the Magistrates Court and been appealed against on sentence by
the Crown, which is a Crown appeal, because the sentence is too lenient—do members want to know how many
successful ones there have been? That would be none. That is because the sentences we have heard about today
are, like it or not—and a lot of members of the public do not like it—within the range of discretion available to
both magistrates and judges of the District Court. That is a fact. There is only one way—and I acknowledge that
in many respects it can be very clumsy—to diminish that range of available sentencing; it is minimum
mandatory sentencing.
There are 28 judges of the District Court. Will moving an aggravated assault case against a public officer from
the Magistrates Court to the District Court for sentencing, even with a moderate increase in the maximum
penalty, guarantee, or even make it more likely than not in most cases, that that individual will get a sentence of
imprisonment? The answer to that question is no. Of those 28 District Court judges, might some take a dimmer
view of this sort of offending than their learned brothers in the Magistrates Court? They might well do. Might
others take a less dim view of the offending than their learned brothers and sisters in the Magistrates Court?
Again, they might well do. Shifting the problem from one court to another achieves nothing. If we are all in
agreement that the types of stories that have been put before us do not represent adequate sentencing for the
offence, we need to look at an alternative legislative reform that actually—here it goes—produces a result. The
point about minimum mandatory sentencing, the criticism of it, and the best criticism of it—it is a solid criticism
of it—is not that it does not achieve a result; it is that sometimes it achieves too much of a result. However, if we
are in agreement that a result needs to be achieved, rest assured we will not get the result from the government
proposals that are before us; that is a fact. Often the criticism of minimum mandatory sentencing is that we are
taking a sledgehammer to crack a walnut; right? In some ways, as a metaphor or allegory, a sledgehammer is a
reasonable description of minimum mandatory sentencing. However, the problem with that allegory in total is
that we are not attempting to crack a walnut. We are facing the single biggest problem in criminal justice that I
would argue this state has seen post World War II; that is, the parlous state of protection for police officers who
attend at the scene of offending.
I say to people on the other side of the house who will tell us that minimum mandatory sentencing is too robust a
solution to that problem that if they take that view, they should repeal section 401(4) of the Criminal Code,
which provides, at this very time, for the minimum mandatory sentence of 12 months’ imprisonment for a person
who is caught and convicted of aggravated burglary for a third time. When that provision came in in 1996, the
same arguments against minimum mandatory sentencing were used as are being made now, yet the provision
was brought in and remains on the books and remains in use. On occasions it has results that are robust,
undoubtedly, but at the time, and presumably now, by virtue of the fact that the government has not removed it
from the books, there was a view that the problem of home invasions was at such a significant level that this was
the only alternative to ensure minimum sentences of imprisonment. That was a big problem. However, let me
assure members that the problem that police officers face, and, by virtue of what they face, the rest of us face, is
a problem that makes that pale in comparison. Of the two alternatives that are now presented to this house, one
will have negligible to no effect, and the other will actually do something to improve the situation.
MR T. BUSWELL (Vasse — Leader of the Opposition) [4.43 pm]: I rise to quickly add my support for the
Acts Amendment (Assaults on Police Officers) Bill 2008, which was introduced into this house by the member
for Hillarys. He is a member of this Parliament who for a long time has argued that we need to clamp down on
unruly aspects of our society. I do not always agree with the solutions advanced by the member for Hillarys, but
in this case I am 100 per cent behind him. In particular, we are all aware in this house of the member for
Hillarys’ passion for increasing the protection for our police officers.
I was interested to review one of the public relations surveys that the government conducts on a periodic basis, at
great expense to the taxpayers of this state. It came as no surprise to me that statistically the people of this state
agree with the evidence that is presented to us anecdotally through the screens of television sets, on the pages of
newspapers and in many cases, unfortunately, through our own life experiences; that is, that despite the great
wealth being generated in this state at the moment, people in Western Australian communities have never felt
less safe in their homes and never felt less safe in their communities. It is abundantly clear that this is having a
2098                                [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]

major impact on people’s quality of life. Parents will not allow their children to go to the park for fear of gangs
and hoons. Elderly members of our community effectively live in homes behind barred windows and heavily
locked doors. We must ask ourselves: where are we headed?
Mr P. Papalia: This is a serious debate and you are debasing it.
Mr T. BUSWELL: Sorry; what was the member for Peel’s interjection?
Mr P. Papalia: I said this is a serious debate and you are debasing it with what you are doing now.
Mr T. BUSWELL: What is the member talking about? Does the member not think that elderly people in our
society are locked behind doors and have bars on their windows? Will the member for Peel stand and support
police officers? Is he going to stand and speak to this bill? If he is not, he should keep quiet, because it is a
serious issue. Another obvious manifestation of the breakdown in law and order is the increasingly serious
assaults that we see all too often on our police officers. It is a matter that causes grievous concern to the
community at large, it is a matter that causes immense concern to the police officers who dutifully serve our
communities, and it is a matter that gives immense concern to the families of police officers serving in this state.
This is an issue which is widespread and which reaches into communities around Western Australia. Recently in
my home town of Busselton, a situation arose when police officers from my local police station attended a park
in town to allegedly deal with an intoxicated youth. An offender allegedly came out from behind the bush.
Another offender allegedly assaulted a police officer with a bottle of some sort and knocked him to the ground.
The officer was injured badly and has had to take a number of weeks off work. For a lot of that time he has been
confined to a darkened room, unable to move. These are problems that are manifesting themselves in
communities across the length and breadth of this state.
Some weeks ago the Western Australian Police Union arranged for me to visit Constable Matthew Butcher and
his wife, Katrina, while he lay practically in a comatose state in a bed in Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. That was
a most distressing experience for them—not my visit, but the events surrounding Constable Butcher being in
hospital—and it certainly had a major impact on me. I could not communicate with Constable Butcher. I
understand that he is slowly improving, and of course we wish him all the very best indeed in that recovery
process. However, I had the good fortune to sit with his wife for some time and talk to her about the journey that
she had just been on. The thing that I will remember more than anything—more than the physical discomfort and
physical condition of Constable Butcher, and more than the emotional distress of his wife about his
circumstances—is the fact that she said to me, “Do you know what? Every day he went out the door to go to
work, I sat there and was worried sick that this would happen to my husband, Matthew.” I came away from the
hospital with a very strong belief that in this Parliament we need to do everything that we can, and are
empowered to do by the Constitution of this state, to defend police officers and to protect their families from
having to go through what Matthew and Katrina Butcher and their extended families have had to go through.
The member for Hillarys has provided the house with innumerable examples of people who have assaulted
police officers and received fines that were paltry in comparison with the offence. I will briefly share one with
the house. I refer to a story sent by email from a police officer; I will not mention any names, of course.
The police officer had recently returned to police work after two years away, and said that he was stunned by the
changes in sentencing and in the attitudes of magistrates towards police. He referred to a former magistrate of the
Armadale Court of Petty Sessions and said that he remembered criminals recoiling in fear on being told that they
were to go to court in Armadale, because they knew they would be in for a verbal flogging and a stiff, if fair,
sentence. After returning to Western Australia Police, the officer was stationed at Armadale Police Station. In
February 2007 he was on patrol with a probationary officer when they attended a call-out about a male refusing
to leave a woman’s flat. The officers had to wait for the man to wake up; he was sleeping in the woman’s flat.
When he woke up he became very agitated. The officer pointed out that the man had 11 court outcomes listed
against him, including assault and possession of cannabis with intent to supply. The officer described the man’s
state when he was woken up. He said that his partner took hold of the man’s arm and began to escort him to the
door. The man then shrugged the officer’s partner off in an aggressive manner before grabbing hold of his shirt
collar, forcing his elbows across his throat, and jamming him against a wall. He then released his grip and
grabbed the officer’s partner by the throat, choking him with his hand. The officer yelled that the man was under
arrest, and grabbed his free arm in an attempt to drag him off. However, it soon became obvious to the officer
that his partner could not breathe and that the situation was escalating. The officer then shot the offender in the
side with his Taser stun gun, which made him fall over. The offender was then handcuffed without further
incident. At the station the offender said that he was sorry and admitted that everything was his fault. He went to
court in Armadale the next morning and pleaded guilty to a magistrate who had replaced the magistrate referred
to earlier. The magistrate in his summing up stated that the police had been excessive in their actions, and that
the accused had suffered enough. This police officer had been pinned to the wall, unable to breath, and his
colleague could not get the offender off him, so he used a weapon legally provided to him and disabled the
individual. He was charged with three offences and was fined for each of them: $100 for assaulting a public
officer; $50 for breaching a police order; and $100 for obstructing police. That is a grand total of $250.
                                    [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]                                      2099

Mr C.C. Porter: Which he would never pay.
Mr T. BUSWELL: Exactly. This is the situation in Western Australia. This is the message we are sending to
police officers.
Mr R.F. Johnson: Yet what do you get for not wearing a seatbelt? $500.
Mr T. BUSWELL: That is exactly right. We are saying to Western Australian police officers that if they go out
on the job, are held against a wall and strangled and the offender is caught and found guilty, he will be fined less
than someone who is fined for not wearing a seatbelt. That is the essence of the legislation before us. The
opposition does not debate the changes recently introduced by the government to increase maximum penalties,
although we think there is a fair element of political spin involved in that process; we are debating issues
surrounding the protection of police officers who have been assaulted. One can use phrases such as “lower end
of the scale” and “appropriate penalties will apply”. Government members have said to me that it means that if
an offender pushes a police officer he will go to jail. That is not what the opposition is talking about. The
minister knows that, and when he says such things publicly, he is disingenuously representing to the public the
views of the opposition.
Mr J.A. McGinty: That is what the member for South Perth said.
Mr T. BUSWELL: I will tell the Attorney General what the opposition is saying.
Several members interjected.
The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr P.B. Watson): Members, can we get back to the debate?
Mr T. BUSWELL: The opposition says that if an offender pins a police officer to a wall, attempts to strangle
the officer with his elbow and forearm and has to be shot with a Taser in order to be removed, he should go to
jail. The opposition says that if an offender holds a female police officer in a headlock, throws her to the ground,
takes her Taser and shoots her repeatedly with it, he should go to jail. The opposition says that if an offender
pushes a police officer to the ground and thinks it is sport to kick the officer, he should go to jail. The problem
with the system is that in many cases, people do not go to jail for offences of that nature. That is what this
legislation will do. The minister recently stood in Parliament and said that under the Liberal Party plan people
will receive lighter penalties for assaults on police officers. When I sit down and my colleague the member for
Murray has finished his comments, I hope the minister will stand and attempt to justify the mistruth he has tried
to perpetrate.
Mr J.C. Kobelke: I didn’t say that for a start, but you’re used to verballing people, aren’t you?
Mr T. BUSWELL: He has insinuated that the legislation under consideration will lead to a lessening of the
penalties imposed on people found guilty of assaulting police officers. That is what he said.
Mr J.C. Kobelke: I didn’t; I said a Liberal lawyer suggested that. You can’t tell the truth; your colleagues know
you can’t tell the truth.
Mr T. BUSWELL: A Liberal lawyer? That is what the minister said in Parliament. That is the argument he has
tried to present, and it is quite simply not true. The technical aspects were outlined by my colleague the shadow
Attorney General.
Mr J.C. Kobelke: No, he didn’t touch on that aspect at all. You obviously weren’t listening.
Mr T. BUSWELL: I listened to everything he said. He is a lawyer who has served in courthouses in this —
The ACTING SPEAKER: The member will address his remarks through the Chair. If he wants to draw
interjections, he should continue to address government members, but he is supposed to speak through the Chair.
Mr T. BUSWELL: I will be rigid and bolt upright, Mr Acting Speaker.
The ACTING SPEAKER: I have made a decision. When the member speaks, he will speak through the Chair.
If he wishes to ridicule that decision, I will call him to order. If the member wishes to continue speaking, he
should speak through the Chair and not draw in other members from across the house.
Mr T. BUSWELL: I thank Mr Acting Speaker for his advice and guidance.
When the opposition receives advice about matters pertaining to law and order from our shadow Attorney
General, the advice is coming from a person who has had experience as a lawyer in a courthouse and who has a
fundamental understanding of the application of the law in a practical way. When he speaks, we listen to his
advice as, increasingly, do government members. We do not rely on a briefcase-based lawyer to provide us with
I will not speak for much longer, other than to say that it is the opposition’s very strong view that the public of
Western Australia want a strong message to be sent to people who assault or are thinking about assaulting police
officers. It is our view that the police officers of Western Australia and their families want a very strong message
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sent to the people who assault or are thinking about assaulting police officers. If an offender thinks it is okay to
assault a copper who is lawfully going about his duty, he is wrong and he will go to jail. It will be an interesting
test to find out whether government members will be prepared to stand with the opposition and offer the
protection that the police officers of Western Australia demand and deserve.
MR J.C. KOBELKE (Balcatta — Minister for Police and Emergency Services) [4.58 pm]: I appreciate the
opportunity to speak on behalf of our police and about the fantastic job they do. The government recognises the
risks that go with that job. We are fortunate to have two members—one on each side of the house—who have
served as police officers. They know better than I know—or, I suspect, than any other member knows—how
difficult the job is and the dangers that go with it. We expect our police officers to respond to situations under
very difficult circumstances in which they have to make judgements about the safety of the people they are
dealing with and their own safety. We are very fortunate in Western Australia to have police officers of a very
high calibre who make the hard calls to look after the public, to step in and seek to protect the public and to
uphold the law. Unfortunately, they too often have to do so at their own cost. However, we are a much safer
community as a result and we enjoy the enforcement of law and order because of the calibre of our police
officers. There have been too many cases in which officers have been assaulted, charges have been laid against
the offender, and the result from the court has been absolutely abysmal and in no way reflective of a fair and
reasonable sentence for assaulting a police officer. The government has sought to address that. I will later detail
the things we have done, and what further can be done to make sure that people who assault police officers are
dealt with in a fair way by the courts. When I say “fair”, I mean a fair and just way that reflects the fact that an
assault on a police officer is not only an assault on an individual, but also an assault on society.
The police uphold law and order in the name of our society and community. That is why the statutes include a
special recognition of an assault on an officer; in fact, they are entitled serious assaults. Even if the nature of the
assault is quite minor, it is classed as a serious assault because it recognises the standing and respect that should
be given to police officers and other public officers. Clearly, we have a problem and that is why the opposition
has brought on this legislation. There are too many cases in which the sentences that the courts have handed
down have not met the expectations of this government, the opposition or the wider community, and they
certainly have not met the expectations of police officers who do the hard work.
I am very pleased to be able to attend a large number of police graduation ceremonies. One comment that
Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan makes at every graduation ceremony is that he backs our police officers and
will stand behind them even if they make a mistake. However, he makes it absolutely clear to the graduating
officers that they are not the punching bags of thugs and people in the community who think they can sometimes
get away with —
Mr M.J. Cowper: It’s a shame that the government doesn’t share the same view as the commissioner.
Mr J.C. KOBELKE: We do; absolutely. The opposition wants to play politics. We know from many other
instances that when it comes to supporting our police, the Liberal opposition is strong on words but very weak
on action.
Several members interjected.
Mr J.C. KOBELKE: That is the opposition’s record.
The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr A.P. O’Gorman): Members do not get an opportunity to constantly shout
across the chamber when a speaker is on his feet. I ask members to hold back their comments and let the speaker
get his words out.
Mr J.C. KOBELKE: I appreciate it when Liberal members publicly announce their support for the police and
when they say that they will take action to support them. However, I would rather that members were consistent
in their actions and not just in the verbiage that they use. When the member for Warren-Blackwood was Leader
of the Opposition, he attacked the integrity of the police in this very place.
Mr R.F. Johnson: No, he didn’t.
Mr J.C. KOBELKE: Yes, he did, on more than one occasion. When the Liberal Party held a meeting in
Western Australia, Senator Johnston, a Liberal senator, said that there was political interference and the police
targeted the meeting with booze buses. That is absolute nonsense. I could go through a whole list of instances
when Liberal members have been happy to put the boot into the police because it suits their purposes. That is the
Liberal opposition we have. I hope Liberal members will be a bit consistent for a change and carry through in
supporting our police.
What did the Liberal Party do with police numbers in its last four years in government? When it comes to action,
Liberal members simply want to say a lot of words; they do not want to act. In the last four years of the Liberal
government, in which the member for Hillarys was a minister, it did not allocate money for one additional police
officer. In four years there was not one additional police officer. On coming to government, we allocated money
                                    [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]                                       2101

and employed an extra 250 sworn officers in our first four years. By next year we will have put on another 350
police officers. That is an additional 600 police officers, plus 160 non-sworn officers so that more police are on
the front line. We have committed to supporting our police and we are allocating the money. It is not just money
for salaries. On the matter of resourcing, we have ensured that the police have Tasers and that they are covered
by occupational health and safety provisions. All the time that the Liberal Party was in government, it never
allowed our police to be covered by occupational health and safety laws; it was too costly and it would not do it.
Mr M.J. Cowper interjected.
The ACTING SPEAKER: I call the member for Murray to order.
Mr J.C. KOBELKE: The point is that we made sure that the police were covered by health and safety
provisions. We have funded it. Today, the police in Western Australia, on a per head of population basis, are
funded 18 per cent higher than the average of the police in other states are funded. We have made the
commitment to our police and we will continue to do that.
In terms of occupational health and safety issues, we want to try to prevent police from being seriously assaulted
and ending up in hospital. We know that, because of the dangers and difficulties associated with their job, the
best we can do is reduce the number of assaults. However, we have made an effort. Under the previous
government there were still single-officer patrols. Police officers now patrol together. We have looked at a range
of issues whereby the government can provide the resources to ensure that we try to prevent assaults on officers.
I return to where we are at. Police officers have been assaulted and what has happened in the courts has been
most inadequate. We recognise that. Therefore, we need to deal with that issue. As has been indicated by other
speakers, there have been some high-profile cases recently that were absolutely sickening. Officers who have
been doing their duty have been attacked without any provocation of any sort in the most malicious way.
Clearly, I am referring to the case of Matthew Butcher. As the Leader of the Opposition has said, a number of
people have visited him. I visited him two weeks after the assault and he had started to write things on a notepad.
I saw the state that he was in, but I also saw the hope, which had almost been blown away, that he was going to
recover. He is progressing, but it will be a long path for him and his wife, Katrina. I know that all members wish
them well. However, it drives home the dangers of what can happen to officers while simply doing their duty.
There are a number of other cases that members have mentioned. I will go through a few cases in which the
sentences have not been adequate and for which we have sought to ensure that the sentences are adequate. In the
incident in Meekatharra, two offenders assaulted First-Class Constable Shane Markham, Sergeant Vanessa
Robinson and Senior Constable Christina Johnston. Leonard Wells received a sentence of three years and one
month and the other offender got a sentence of two and a half years. Clearly, those sentences are not adequate.
The point is that this legislation provides for sentences way below that level. The suggestion of a minimum
mandatory sentence is totally irrelevant in these particular cases, because in these cases the offenders have
received much higher sentences than the minimum sentence, and so they should. That is one of the deficiencies
of a minimum mandatory sentence. A minimum mandatory sentence does not address the really serious cases.
The sentences handed down in the really serious cases need to be pushed towards the top end, and that is what
we are seeking to do.
Several members interjected.
Mr J.C. KOBELKE: Members opposite simply want to run a political campaign. They are not interested in
backing our police.
Mr C.C. Porter: If an offender bites an officer, should he go to jail?
Mr J.C. KOBELKE: This is a serious debate and I am weighing up the case. I listened to the member for
Murdoch and I will certainly take his interjections when I have developed my case. However, if he wants to
support our police, he should make a contribution, as he has done, that is reasoned, appropriate and quite good.
We will make a contribution to the debate in a way that shows that we respect and support our police, not simply
to try to beat the political drums, as many members opposite have sought to do.
Leonard Wells and Peter Laylan, who committed assaults that were right over the top, deserved heavier
sentences than they received. The new laws that we have put in place will ensure that heavier sentences are
delivered when grievous bodily harm is done to police officers.
Several members interjected.
Mr J.C. KOBELKE: Again, we hear mutterings about minimum sentences. The minimum sentence provided
for in this legislation would have no application to these cases, because these cases clearly deserve sentences
much higher than the minimum sentence. Very stiff penalties need to be awarded for serious offences. The whole
point is that a minimum mandatory sentence is totally irrelevant to that group of cases. That is the first point that
I make.
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The point that the Leader of the Opposition raised with me was made by Tom Percy, who is a well-known
Liberal lawyer. I do not have legal experience and so I will accept the member for Murdoch’s view because he
was a legal practitioner and he knows the law. A case can be mounted that in certain cases when a judge
sentences an offender, he may award the minimum sentence because he can choose the term of the sentence from
within a narrow range. It has been suggested that, in some cases, this might lead to judges awarding the
minimum sentence and that, if no minimum sentence is prescribed, awarding a lengthier sentence. The
opposition may reject that as a likely outcome. Tom Percy sought to advance that proposition. It would cause me
concern if that could ever happen. That is all I said about the matter.
Mr R.F. Johnson: Is Tom Percy a friend of yours? It sounds like it?
Mr J.C. KOBELKE: I do not think I have even met him. He claims to be a Liberal. He certainly has trouble
with the current Liberal Party, but that is true of most of the population of Western Australia.
The issue is whether we will deal seriously, appropriately and effectively with ensuring that stiffer penalties
apply to people who assault our police officers or whether we simply use mandatory minimum sentences as a
catchcry for political purposes. That is what the community must judge and that is the situation with this
legislation. The opposition’s Acts Amendment (Assaults on Police Officers) Bill is playing catch-up with the
government. We must all accept some responsibility for the fact that the legislation that we introduced and
passed through this house very quickly languished in the other place for far too long. We would have liked to
have had that legislation assented to before Matthew Butcher was bashed, so that it could have applied in his
The member for Murdoch made the case that the legislation would increase the sentences by only a small
amount. I think the Attorney General might take up some of the issues the member raised. We have required that
all serious and aggravated assaults are to be dealt with in the superior courts rather than in the Magistrates Court.
That will ensure we have a graduated series of sentencing based on the seriousness of the offence. As the
Attorney General has pointed out, because of the harsher penalties that we have put in place through these
sentencing arrangements, the maximum penalty for causing grievous bodily harm to a public officer will
increase from 10 to 14 years, and the one-third truth-in-sentencing discount has been removed. We are keen for
the courts, through the clear urging of the Parliament, to award heavier sentences based on that legislation that
will soon come into effect.
Mr R.F. Johnson interjected.
Mr J.C. KOBELKE: The member for Hillarys does not take assaults on police officers seriously. I put that
clearly on the record. If he were serious, he would be willing to listen to our argument. We want to make sure
that the people who commit very serious assaults get the maximum penalty—or as close as possible to that—and
that those who commit assaults that have a lesser effect get a lesser sentence. The problem is that the courts have
formed the view that the sentences should be at the lower end of the scale. We must change that view. If we put
in place provisions that cause people to believe that we are sending offenders to jail for no good reason, people
will wonder whether convictions will be awarded and the respect for the law will change. We must provide a
balance. We agree with members opposite that tougher sentences are needed. However, we do not agree that it is
to be done in a ham-fisted way that will not deliver that outcome over time. It might create a small shift for a
certain period, but we want to make sure that we have a graduated hierarchy in which causing grievous bodily
harm to a public officer is at the top, followed by bodily harm and then assault. We must make sure that the
sentence reflects the severity of the assault. The Attorney General’s legislation applies not only when an officer
is on duty and performing a function, but also when the officer is off-duty and is performing a function. We have
extended the provisions of that legislation to include other public officers, and the heavier sentences will be
applied in a range of different ways to assaults on those public officers. Our legislation also applies the offence
to assaults on a range of public officers, which now includes members of the Fire and Emergency Services
Authority, the State Emergency Service, private and volunteer fire brigade workers, people who work in
hospitals—where we have had problems in the past—and contracted court security officers. That extension goes
beyond the key target, which is police officers.
We want the legislation to be evidenced based. I am disappointed that it is very difficult to get evidence on this. I
asked Mike Dean, the president of the Western Australian Police Union of Workers and a man for whom I have
great respect, to provide me with evidence of incidents when grievous bodily harm was caused to an officer and
a jail sentence was not imposed. No-one has presented some of the extra evidence that we would like to see to
check how the tougher laws will work. After taking advice from the police union and members opposite, we will
conduct a review by the Office of Crime Prevention through the Crime Research Centre at the University of
Western Australia. We will look at what has happened over the past year or two under the old laws. We will
match the sentences that were awarded based on the details of the level of assault and the level of harm that was
inflicted on a police officer. The study of the new legislation will take place to see whether there has been a
change in the sentences imposed and just how big the change has been. If it is necessary, we will ensure that we
get sentences that are comparable with the severity of assaulting public officers. I have also asked for regular
                                     [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]                                        2103

reports—hopefully they will be quarterly reports—as that study is being done, so that we can monitor the
situation prior to the full analysis of those changes that will take place under the tougher sentencing laws we
have put in place for assaulting a public officer.
Another area that the bill tries to pick up is of great concern, and, quite rightly, the opposition is seeking to do
something about it. I refer to someone who has been convicted of assaulting a police officer and ends up with a
spent conviction order. The opposition referred to the assault on a first-class constable, Michelle Ball. A
12-month imprisonment sentence was imposed for that assault, which is the within the minimum range that is
allowed. However, because the sentence was suspended, it had no effect at all. It is my view, and I think the
view of the government, that when serious assaults that cause grievous bodily harm occur, the offender should
not receive a spent conviction order. Significant bodily harm was caused to the officer.
Mr R.F. Johnson: I don’t think that would have been grievous bodily harm.
Mr J.C. KOBELKE: No, it was below that level. However, it was a serious assault that inflicted harm on the
officer. In a case like that, it is my view and the view of the government that a regime should apply whereby a
spent conviction order cannot be imposed. There is a range of arguments about how to best address that. Another
case involved Constable Nicholas Armour and Constable Amanda Lee, which has been alluded to. Again, they
were very seriously assaulted and injured. The perpetrator of those assaults received 12-month community-based
orders, which is totally inadequate. We want to ensure that when that type of assault occurs, the offender
receives a jail sentence and not simply a small fine or a spent conviction.
Mr R.F. Johnson: That is what this legislation addresses.
Mr J.C. KOBELKE: It does not.
Mr R.F. Johnson: Of course it does.
Mr J.C. KOBELKE: Wait until we look at that legislation.
Mr R.F. Johnson: You are insulting the police officers who had a major part in the drafting of this bill.
Mr J.C. KOBELKE: I will point out that the member’s legislation does not do that.
Mr R.F. Johnson: You are insulting the police officers.
Mr J.C. KOBELKE: I am not insulting anyone; I am telling the member that my advice on the legislation
before us is that it has a hole in it.
Mr R.F. Johnson interjected.
Mr J.C. KOBELKE: The member sought to do that, but my advice is that the bill does not do that.
Another case that has arisen when a spent conviction order was imposed relates to an offence that occurred at
1.00 am on 13 March this year. When police officers were talking with a group of males at the Perth Cultural
Centre, the offender, who was from an unrelated group, approached an officer from behind and grabbed him by
the neck and shoulder and pulled him backwards. The officer was slightly injured and was bruised on the left
arm. The offender was then apprehended and arrested. On 18 March the offender appeared in the Perth
Magistrates Court—this happened under the old law, but the same problem exists—and pleaded guilty to
assaulting a public officer and obstructing police. He received a $1 000 and a $400 fine respectively on those
two charges and was granted a spent conviction order. The offender had no previous criminal convictions. While
the assault did not result in significant injuries to the police officer, the police officer was there carrying out his
duties. He was assaulted in a way that was totally unacceptable, and I find it unacceptable there should be a spent
conviction in that case.
Mr C.C. Porter: Does the minister say that offender should go to jail?
Mr J.C. KOBELKE: I am saying there should not be a spent conviction.
Mr C.C. Porter: The police officers want to know what the minister’s view is.
Mr J.C. KOBELKE: We will come to that in a moment.
Mr R.F. Johnson: That is the trouble—they want to keep him out of jail.
Mr J.C. KOBELKE: What we are seeing here, Mr Acting Speaker, is that people opposite are saying any
assault on a police officer should result in jail.
Mr C.C. Porter: Assault, bodily harm.
Mr J.C. KOBELKE: No, the member did not say that. He said any assault.
Mr R.F. Johnson: The legislation does not say that. Let’s deal with the legislation.
2104                                [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]

Mr J.C. KOBELKE: We will come to that. What the member just said is the offender should go to jail for any
assault. “Assault” is set out in section 222 of the Criminal Code and relates to applying force to such a degree to
cause injury or personal discomfort; any personal discomfort is an assault. Simply rearranging the arm sleeve of
a police officer’s shirt —
Mr J.E. McGrath: If a person got six teeth knocked out, that would be a personal discomfort.
Mr J.C. KOBELKE: The point that the member does not grasp is that if a person has teeth knocked out, there
should be a very serious penalty attached, but if a person simply grabs an officer by the arm, that is discomfort,
and the member is saying that the person should go to jail. My concern with that is it actually brings the law into
disrepute. We have to deal with the law as it is written, not the airy-fairy political views of the opposition as to
how it might like to put it. The situation is that if we are going to have a mandatory sentence with a very lower
end, then it actually makes a mockery of the law and puts police into a situation where they will not be fully
Mr C.C. Porter: Read the definition in full, minister! “Bodily harm” means any bodily injury; any injury that
interferes with health or comfort. Touching a shirt sleeve is not an injury!
Mr J.C. KOBELKE: I am referring to section 222 — assault.
Mr C.C. Porter: Our legislation amends section 318.
Mr J.C. KOBELKE: The opposition is dealing with a different section. This is a tactic, Mr Acting Speaker.
Mr C.C. Porter: The minister is dealing with a section that does not apply.
Mr J.C. KOBELKE: This is a Liberal tactic when they do not want to deal with the truth. I am dealing with
section 222, so if the member for Murdoch wants to go to a different section —
Mr C.C. Porter: Will the minister tell me how section 222 applies?
Mr R.F. Johnson: Deal with the legislation before the house! That is what the minister needs to do.
Mr J.C. KOBELKE: The problem is that Liberal Party members say one thing and do something else. They say
they support police and then they attack them when it suits their purpose. They say they want people jailed for
any assault and then they say no, they do not mean that, they mean something else. The fact is that when we
make an amendment we need to make sure we get it right so that serious assaults on police officers result in
convictions and much heavier jail sentences. We will deliver that because we have a record of delivering.
I think it was the member for Murdoch who stated it would not actually result in longer sentences. The Attorney
General is going to take that up, but I know from the figures that I have seen that the jails are full because in a
range of other offence areas the tougher penalties we have put in place have led to longer sentences; people are
in jail for longer. In this case, people are sceptical as to how it will work. Clearly, this government’s tougher
penalties in other areas have led to longer jail sentences and that is evidenced from the terms that people are now
spending in jail and the fact that our jails are full. The member for South Perth and others have said that an
offender should end up in jail for any assault.
Several members interjected.
Mr J.C. KOBELKE: That is what he said. It is there in Hansard. This is the problem—opposition members say
something but they mean something else. They say they are supporting police and, when it suits them, they
attack them. They want it both ways. They do not want to be honest and accountable and they do not want to
deal with the facts. We have a number of members opposite who have said any assault should result in jail. We
will come to the legislation—that says something different—but that is what the members are saying.
Mr R.F. Johnson: This government is soft on crime and soft against assaults on police; the minister knows that
and everybody else knows that.
Mr J.C. KOBELKE: Again, the rhetoric and not being able to deliver on it. What we have sought to do is make
sure there are stronger and tougher penalties for serious assaults on police and the government has a graduated
set of sentencing arrangements so that at the bottom end it is left to the discretion of the courts as to how they
handle it.
I will give the house an example. Some weeks ago, with the approval of the Attorney General, I spoke to Robert
Cock, the Director of Public Prosecutions, to get his advice on what is not working and what penalties we need
to toughen up. I asked the DPP what aspect can mandatory sentencing deliver for us. At that stage I was thinking
that we could do something. It is not my area, it is the Attorney General’s area, but I wanted to get the full
picture. The DPP referred to the case of an elderly lady who was involved in a political demonstration and she
hit a police officer with a walking stick. Clearly, that would have been taken as being an assault on the officer
and, under the opposition’s legislation, it will be minimum mandatory —
Mr J.E. McGrath: Bodily harm.
                                    [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]                                        2105

Mr J.C. KOBELKE: That is bodily harm.
Mr R.F. Johnson: She might have attacked him with a pencil across the head!
Mr J.C. KOBELKE: In clause 1 of the bill the term “bodily harm” means any bodily injury that interferes with
health or comfort. If a victim has got a bit of a sore leg because an old lady in her 70s hit him or her with a stick,
that is bodily harm. The point that Robert Cock made to me was this lady was charged and went to court for
bodily harm. It is a fact.
Mr J.A. McGinty: It actually happened.
Mr J.C. KOBELKE: It actually happened.
Mr J.E. McGrath: A person has got to be found guilty of the offence.
Mr J.C. KOBELKE: That is the whole point. Under the opposition’s legislation, if the evidence is there for a
70-year-old lady —
Mr C.C. Porter: What happened to her? Did she get off the charge?
Mr J.C. KOBELKE: Under the current legislation, she most probably got a spent conviction.
Several members interjected.
The ACTING SPEAKER: Members, the level of interjections is getting beyond what is acceptable. I am
finding it exceedingly difficult to hear exactly what the minister is saying, even though the minister is rather
loud! The member for Murdoch and the member for Hillarys are both shouting over the top of him and I call
them both to order for the first time.
Mr J.C. KOBELKE: Mr Acting Speaker, I thank you for your assistance.
Mr R.F. Johnson: When did that happen?
Mr J.C. KOBELKE: I will get the details for the member for Hillarys as I do not have them here with me. I
rang the DPP and he just relayed the details to me. When the member for Hillarys was reading out police files I
asked him for the cases because I was interested. He said he would not provide them. I even asked him to cross
out the names, but he still would not provide the cases to me.
Mr R.F. Johnson: I will read them out.
Mr J.C. KOBELKE: I will relay to the house a particular case as told to me by the DPP. The member for
Hillarys does tend to hunt with the hounds and run with the hares because it is only in this place, in the past 24
hours, that he has been arguing for greater flexibility with judges in a case where a young gentleman was
actually convicted of sexual assault and he does not want him to go on the Australian National Child Offender
Register. He wants leniency or discretion by the courts. He was closer to the truth yesterday in the debate when
he was saying we really do need to make sure that when we have the complexity of these cases we leave some
discretion and flexibility with the courts. We want more serious and longer jail sentences, clearly for the mid-
range to the top range, but we need to leave some flexibility at the bottom end with the courts.
The problem with the opposition bill is that it appears to have been drafted in haste, without the time taken to
ensure that the stated objectives—because I have heard their stated objectives—would actually be met. By
imposing that mandatory minimum imprisonment term in section 38 for the offence of serious assault, which
covers a wide range of assaults, an offender could potentially be imprisoned for causing a public officer a very
minor issue, as I said with that elderly lady. Clearly, there should be a penalty for it but I do not think in a case
like that a person should go to jail.
Mr J.E. McGrath: She got off.
Mr J.C. KOBELKE: Yes, under our law, but under the opposition’s law it would be mandatory minimum
Mr J.E. McGrath: What if she is found not guilty?
Mr J.C. KOBELKE: I take the member for South Perth’s question. That was the point I was making earlier,
and I am not a lawyer. The opposition has got its own lawyers here. There can be a change in attitude. If we were
to work on the basis that all the facts in a case are covered by the law but the courts determine to simply back off
because the sentence to be imposed is not a good thing to do, it would make a nonsense of the law. The
prosecuting officers can use their discretion. They might decide that a decision would look bad for them if they
were to go through with it. The decision is made by the individual officers and the prosecutors. However, under
the opposition’s bill, if there is evidence to prove that a lady assaulted a police officer in public and that assault
caused harm to the officer—a slight bruise causing discomfort to the leg—that would mandate a minimum jail
sentence. That is the problem with the opposition’s legislation. The opposition’s proposed mandatory sentencing
goes to 12 months if the assault involved grievous bodily harm and nine months if it involved serious assault. I
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did allude to what that covers. We are fairly clear on grievous bodily harm. However, if it is a serious assault it
would come under section 318 of the act. If it is bodily harm—I have already read the relevant section to the
house—subsection (1) states that it means bodily injury that interferes with health or comfort. As opposed to
grievous bodily harm, it casts a fairly wide net. That is what the opposition is using as the catch for a minimum
The government believes that its legislation will lead to more people being jailed for assault if that assault harms
an officer. That is what should occur. The government is confident that its legislation will deliver that outcome.
An aspect of the opposition’s bill tries to genuinely address a very serious matter of officers being assaulted and
the court treating the perpetrators very lightly by giving them a spent conviction. In the case of the officer in
Northbridge to which I referred earlier, the commissioner has informed me that he has written to the Director of
Public Prosecutions asking whether that decision can be appealed. I have been told by a number of people that
we should have been appealing these decisions some time ago. A spent conviction for assaulting a public officer
or police officer should not be allowed. A magistrate should not simply decide to give the offender a spent
conviction. I am yet to hear back from the commissioner or the DPP on what steps will be taken. Through the
Attorney General, I will urge the government to consider appealing some of the cases in which spent convictions
have been awarded and taking them to a higher jurisdiction. We must set the rules. If the court does not
effectively deal with this issue, it is an appropriate time to legislate accordingly. The advice to me from a number
of legal people is that we should be appealing those decisions. The commissioner has asked the DPP to do that.
If we appeal appropriate cases, we will get case law that ensures that those sorts of things will not happen in the
The government is very much committed to making sure that those people who assault our officers do not get off
lightly and that they are given more serious and longer sentences. As I indicated, we have already put legislation
setting higher penalties for assaults through the Parliament. We are waiting for the outcome on that. I will have
no trouble convincing the Attorney General that if we cannot change the use of spent convictions through the
process of appeal, we should make legislative changes at a later date to fix the issue.
MR M.J. COWPER (Murray) [5.34 pm]: I take this opportunity to mark the passing of a former colleague who
last night unfortunately lost his life. I offer my condolences to his wife. I also make an apology to my former
colleagues. I can see Bernie Ericks and other former colleagues in the public gallery and I apologise to them for
what they have had to endure in the last half an hour; that is, listening to what has been said in this place.
I refer members to section 246 of the Criminal Code, as that will provide me with time to allow my passion to
cool, because I am somewhat angry.
The credibility that the Minister for Police and Emergency Services had in this place has been diminished to
such an extent by what he just said to the point that nobody would have any confidence whatsoever in him. I
brought a bill into this place to protect our police officers and he said that he would protect them, but he has not
demonstrated that in a tangible way.
Mr G.M. Castrilli: That was in 2006.
Mr M.J. COWPER: Yes, the member is right. I brought a bill into this place in 2006 seeking a safety net for
police officers in the form of workers’ compensation, which every worker is entitled to. The Labor Party is
supposed to be the bastion of the working class, but it has left these people high and dry. Boy, I am angry about
it and I will not let it go until the government brings an appropriate bill into this house. I will re-introduce the bill
I previously introduced each September until it is passed. If necessary, I will restate those letters that the minister
wrote years ago to Glenn Murray in which he said he would fix the problem.
To give the reason that I do not have faith in the justice system and the reason that we need mandatory
sentencing, I hark back to an incident that happened to me. I will not go over the incidents in which police
officers have been assaulted because we have heard them ad infinitum. Probably the reason that I am here today
is that I have been bashed around too much and am not right in the head. We have to be mad to come into this
place and listen to the diatribe that we hear from time to time.
On 1 June 1993 I was the officer in charge of the Denmark Police Station and I was on leave and staying with
my sister-in-law in Maida Vale. Another sister-in-law visited me and said that there was a police officer on
Gooseberry Hill Road doing traffic work. I said, “Good-o, he’s doing his job.” I was on holidays and had just
dragged myself out of bed and I had on my trackie daks and a pair of old sneakers. A few minutes later my
sister-in-law left to take her children to the Maida Vale Primary School. She returned and said, “Murray, you had
better come; there’s an officer down.” His name was Stephen Knight and he lost his life that day despite attempts
by an orthopaedic surgeon and me to try to revive him. The person who killed Stephen Knight was a person by
the name of Scott Anderson. He was charged with murder on 2 June. He was found the day after the tragic event
and charged with murder. The day on which the incident occurred he was supposed to be in the District Court to
face charges relating to drugs.
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To this day I am angry that the charge was reduced from murder to manslaughter. There must have been good
reason for that. All the circumstances would have been taken into consideration. I have no doubt in my mind that
when I was next to where Stephen Knight was lying dead on the ground, I could see further up Gooseberry Hill
Road the smashed indicator of a vehicle, which obviously is where Stephen Knight had been picked up and then
dumped where I was standing. This person would have had to have swerved onto the wrong side of the road. No
doubt during the court case expert evidence would have been given to the effect that the offender did this and
could not see because the sun was in his eyes. I have no doubt that Stephen Knight was lined up and deliberately
killed. Andersen was charged with manslaughter and received a penalty of eight years and four months. From
memory the penalty for killing a person, let alone a police officer with a wife and five children who was
protecting the people of Western Australia, is 20 years. With that one-third reduction in sentencing—I cannot see
any sense in that—he would have served less than five years; that is five years out of 20 years for killing a police
officer. What does a person have to do to get 20 years? Does the offender have to cut and quarter somebody and
hang the pieces in the bloody Hay Street Mall? What a joke.
Damage was caused not only to the morale of the Western Australia Police, but also to Stephen’s family. His
mother had moved to Albany and she contacted me on my return to work to see whether she could talk to me.
She said, “Sergeant Cowper, I want to come and see you because you were there when my son died and I was
there when he was born.” I had a frank discussion with his mother and father. It is something that I will never
Yes, I am passionate about making sure that our boys are looked after and I am passionate about making sure
that when they go out to do their job, they are protected. I want to know that police officers will be protected if
they are injured. The courts are letting them down. Let us not split hairs. I have sat in many courts. I have sat in
this chamber and heard the courts being described in a different light. When a police officer is out on the street
facing insurmountable odds or getting his head pummelled whilst doing his job, in the back of his mind he thinks
that he will be looked after because he is supported by the state. That is a misconception. Knowing what I know
now, why on earth would someone want to join the Western Australia Police? It is because of the camaraderie,
which is not reflected in the annual reports. Police officers look after each other. The police force is a
brotherhood. Despite being on opposite sides of this house, the member for Yokine and I are brothers—we
always will be. That is something that a person cannot understand unless he or she has been a police officer.
The courts do not reflect the expectations of the Western Australian community. That has been evidenced time
and again. There is no better example than the case in which a person who was found guilty of the manslaughter
of a police officer was given a five-year sentence. What a joke!
Dr G.G. Jacobs: He is probably out now.
Mr M.J. COWPER: He was released in 1999. I do not know what he is doing now. I hope he has done
something with his life. He made a terrible mess of things. The police officer was survived by his wife, five kids
and his mother and father, who now live in Albany.
I have no faith in the justice system. We must pass this bill. It pains me to say that the sentiments of the
community are not reflected in the outcomes handed down by our courts. Unfortunately, when a case comes
before a court, everything becomes hazy and cloudy and things do not seem as bad. The defence gives reasons
why the accused is in the position that he is in. I have no doubt that some circumstances are mitigating.
However, at the end of the day, if we do not protect our police officers, we will not be protecting ourselves.
Frankly, I cannot believe how out of touch the government is on this issue. I cannot believe how out of touch the
previous coalition government was on this issue. Some people’s impression of our police officers has been
denigrated. Would-be offenders are on a downward ski slope and it is getting a bit steeper. It is now all right to
whack a policeman. I recently talked to a female and a male detective at the city police station. They told me that
on one occasion when they were out on the beat, they pulled over a chap whom they had been looking for. He
had a previous conviction for assaulting a public officer. He pushed the woman detective out of the way and
belted the policeman in the mouth and split his lip. He received a $600 fine for the two assaults. In effect, he was
fined $300 for each assault. That is ridiculous. When I was a police officer, I was hit by a bloke during a Jimmy
Barnes concert that was being held at Karratha Football Club. It was his second offence. He snotted me and had
to serve three months in jail—bang! That is one example. I was stabbed five times during the time I was
stationed in Halls Creek and Fitzroy Crossing. Those offenders went to jail for a longer period. Justice was swift
and appropriate then.
The Minister for Police and Emergency Services said that if these cases go to the District Court, the offenders
will receive a higher penalty. However, he did not demonstrate how that will be the case. There is no
justification for that view—none whatsoever. In the old days, justices of the peace, rightly or wrongly, were
given power in the community. They knew what was happening in the community and they would issue swift
and appropriate justice. Those powers have been removed and now offenders must appear before a magistrate.
What happens now, particularly in cases that involve full-blooded Aboriginals, is that three months after they
2108                                [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]

have been in prison and they come to court they do not understand the offence. They say that justice is denied if
it is delayed. I say that justice must be appropriate in cases involving full-blooded Aboriginals in remote areas.
Police officers also have to produce hand-up briefs, which is additional work. They have to put those briefs
together and take time off from their jobs in Halls Creek or Fitzroy and travel to Kununurra or to a District Court
in another area. I can use examples from across the state. Those officers have to leave the town and cannot
protect the community. Justice must be swift and appropriate. It must also be delivered in a timely manner. This
bill must be passed because nearly every morning the people of Western Australia pick up a copy of The West
Australian and read that another police officer has been whacked. Each day four police officers are assaulted. If
the government wants to show its thanks to police officers for the job that they are doing and for their
commitment, and if it wants to encourage new recruits, it should protect police officers. It is as simple as that.
The government should offer them a workers’ compensation safety net. Perhaps then the declining morale
among police officers will be reversed. It pains me to say that there is low morale in the police service. I have an
occasional chat about life in general with my former Commissioner of Police, Karl O’Callaghan. We talk, as
policeman do, in a frank and open manner. He told me that he was in a difficult position because he was trying to
look after his men and his master. The government is not keen to promote the safety of our police officers. He
was in two minds about this issue. He told me that he would wait to see how the legislation went. He was
convinced that, as the minister said, there would be greater scope for higher penalties and an increase in the
penalties handed down by the courts. Clearly, that has not been the case. It has not been demonstrated. It is not
tangible to the extent that the community’s confidence has risen. He has now changed his view. He supports
mandatory sentencing.
Mr R.C. Kucera: Are you sure about that?
Mr M.J. COWPER: Yes. The rank and file of the police service support it, the union supports it, the people of
Western Australia support it and members on this side of the house support it. The minister must decide whether
he will support it out of bloody-mindedness for political reasons or because it is the right thing for the people of
Western Australia.
MR R.C. KUCERA (Yokine) [5.40 pm]: I will approach this issue from a slightly different direction. In the
past few weeks, this issue has become an emotional political football. I understand that, given the nature of the
assaults that have been committed against police. I agree with some of the points made by members opposite
tonight. I also agree with many of the points made by the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. I want to
put some balance back into the argument.
In 1829, the year in which this colony was founded, Robert Peel said that the police are the public, the public are
the police and the police are only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties that are
incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence. In other words, police officers
are no different from any other person. They are simply paid to take the brunt of all those who choose to break
the law. We pay them to protect us 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, regardless of the danger, risks and
consequences. I have raised the issue of a compensation package for injured officers in my party room on many
occasions. It has taken too long.
Mr M.J. Cowper: Try 20 years!
Mr R.C. KUCERA: I remind the member for Murray that 20 years is the term of three governments. I also
remind this house that the bill that was introduced in this house last year was absolutely deficient. I was given
assurances that a compensation package would be before this house in the early part of this year. I have had
discussions with the minister. I have expressed my disappointment that there has been no package. That is the
way it is. We pat ourselves on the back when we increase penalties. We keep talking about how we need to offer
every protection. The reality is that members do not often know what the true picture is. I will get on to that in a
moment, because it is one of my great concerns in even voting on a piece of legislation like this; I simply do not
know. I do not take any credence from issues that I read about in The West Australian. I do not listen to the
statistics that it gives me, because I spent 35 years of my life listening to evidence, not anecdotes. I joined the
police force in May 1966—a long time ago. I spent almost 35 years—most of it on the front-line—as an active,
operational officer. I am not an academic; I am not a compass; I do not have 360 degree vision in every
direction. I worked out on the street pretty well all my life, in the city and country towns. In those days we
policed the mining towns or faced down the mobs from the drunken Sunday sessions, and the bodgie and widgie
fights at Scarborough that I think I saw the member for Mindarie flash in and out of occasionally, I might say!
We dealt with all those brawls in the pubs of Kalgoorlie and Port Hedland; faced the out-of-control husband and
the hysterical wife with the carving knife in her hand after stabbing her husband who has been beating her for 15
years, and then she turned the knife on us—circumstances. I have been in the circumstances of standing behind a
brass curtain at the back of a house when a paranoid schizophrenic has just tipped 20 litres of petrol over himself
and is furiously trying to get the lighter going whilst the fire brigade hit the window out and officers charge in
and roll around in the water and the petrol as they try to pull the lighter out of his hand—circumstances! What
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would members do with a person like that? What would members do with the wife who stabs an officer in the
arm after she has just killed her husband?
I also pulled a mate out of an alleyway in Fremantle after he had been taken to with a razor, and have tried to talk
to a prison officer who had been bashed so badly outside the Norfolk Hotel that he never regained his sight. All
of those things happened. However, I am talking about circumstances 43 years ago, when if the local hard case
wanted to take me on, as a young copper in a country town I went outside and took him on. I had to make sure
that I won, because otherwise the road in the town would be very hard for the next three or four years.
That was the world 40 years ago. In those days police always had the backing of the public because the public
respected them. The public recognised, as Robert Peel said, that police were carrying out their duties on their
behalf. The same hard case that we made sure we did not lose the fight to—the one who did lose the fight—was
the first one to come to the aid of police.
There were unwritten rules that neither coppers nor women were hit. Drunken louts that did those kinds of things
got the sentences they deserved. Something has happened since then. In those days police largely worked alone,
so a police officer had to build those community protections in. By and large, however, the courts recognised
that the pushes and punches police got down in the mud and the blood and the beer needed to be dealt with; not
with a sledgehammer, as the member for Murdoch said; they got dealt with in the proper context. That is another
issue we have at the moment with the legislation. In all of the definitions, I honestly do not believe there are
clear definitions of the differences between the kinds of assaults that we are talking about. Yes, this new
legislation goes a fair way to try to overcome that problem, but if members consider the English system of
charging that police officers have at the moment, those definitions are clearly there. They do not leave any room
for doubt. They do not leave any room for minor charges to be included in senior charges. The judges have clear
direction on how to sentence. The English get by very well without mandatory sentencing.
I am not a fan of mandatory sentencing and I never have been. That is because I have been in circumstances in
which the hysterical wife has stabbed me in the arm, and that of the paranoid schizophrenic who does not know
what he is doing anyway. There needs to be some range and some discretion. Back in those days, if a young
copper got the push and shove, those assaults, even at the Magistrates Court, would invariably get something at
the high end of sentencing.
The other thing was that local newspapers and media generally worked alongside police, balancing community
opinion with the need to support those whose sole duty was to protect each and every member of the community.
Police officers learnt to appreciate and practice this balance when we preferred charges, and we knew very well
what the elements were. One of the complaints I have from judges nowadays when I speak with them—and I
was speaking with two judges just the other evening—is the lack of understanding that younger police officers
have nowadays of the elements of offences. That lack of knowledge is partially to blame for some of the
lessening of convictions that is happening in our courts. Magistrates will do everything in their power to make
sure that people are properly dealt with, but if the charges do not reflect that, which happened with the three-
strikes rule, they cannot deal with offenders properly. Mandatory sentencing of juveniles—which I did not agree
with and which judges and smart lawyers do everything they can to avoid bringing into play—is still on the
statute books, by the way. That is what will happen if we start to head down this road without knowing what we
are actually doing, because we do not know.
Mr R.F. Johnson: You do not support the legislation then?
Mr R.C. KUCERA: No, I did not say that. I do not support voting for anything that I do not know about. I have
always dealt with evidence, and none of us know what we are talking about at the moment; it is all anecdotal.
When I look back at cases and I think about magistrates such as A.G. Smith, and people like him, it was rare that
a case got past the Magistrates Court if it did not need to. They dealt with those cases properly and sensibly. I tell
members now that John McKechnie and Graeme Scott, judges like that, dealt with the assault of a police officer
as one of the most serious things to come before them. However, times have changed, and some 43 years down
the track I know that our officers are faced with a very different set of circumstances every day. The so-called
“push and shove” that is talked about—and I have often heard the member for Hillarys colloquially refer to it as
the “trifecta”, when people are charged with disorderly conduct, assaulting police and resisting arrest —
Mr R.F. Johnson: I have never, ever said that!
Mr R.C. KUCERA: That has almost become —
Mr J.A. McGinty: That was me!
Mr R.F. Johnson: I have never, ever said that, my friend!
Mr J.A. McGinty: I think you might find it was me!
Mr R.C. KUCERA: My apologies, member for Hillarys, I was referring to the member for Mindarie. I am
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Mr R.F. Johnson: Thank you.
Several members interjected.
Mr R.C. KUCERA: Can I just get on to my point? The problem has been that the magistrates have started to
perceive that getting a push and a shove and a belt as a police officer—or a public officer—is regarded as a
hazard of the job and something that happens during the course of police simply doing their duty. I saw a
succession of charges treated almost in the same way as if the offenders were shoplifters, or someone caught
urinating in the street. Also, most street offences have been reduced to a level of there being virtually no penalty
at all.
The other thing has dropped away, quite frankly, and I do not agree with —
Mr R.F. Johnson: Because the courts won’t impose them.
Mr R.C. KUCERA: I listened to the member for Hillarys in silence; please give me the same courtesy.
The lack of shaming and identification of offenders has changed the whole nature of societies. Some 30-odd
years ago, if someone committed an offence and it got to court, it was clearly reported in the newspaper; the
name—and often a photograph—was there. People were more worried about that shaming than they were about
actually going to court. The opposite now appears to apply, and there have been countless press stories that
examine in every minute detail not the thugs, but the actions of the officers. That concerns me greatly. Never
have I seen any organisation so thoroughly scrutinised by a range of agencies whose budgets probably exceed
the police department’s nowadays. That situation has evolved over the past 25 years. Inevitably, it is the case that
large resources are expended on investigating allegations against police. I have been telling members for many
years now that crooks will always make an allegation against police regardless of whether it is true or not. Those
allegations hold up the work of police officers generally, and the scrutiny they get is unbelievable.
On the one end there is the erosion of standards generally throughout the community, an example of which I will
tell members about. I was out with my wife the other evening in Northbridge, and if two four-letter words were
taken out of the English language, most of the young community of Perth would be struck dumb.
Mrs J. Hughes: It would be nice and quiet!
Mr R.C. KUCERA: It would be nice and quiet, especially without the expletives! The level of societal
standards is going down on the one hand, which people seem to accept, but on the other hand there is public
outrage when somebody bashes the police. Where is the balance in that? We cannot have the penny and the bun.
Mandatory sentencing does not help that. Along with this has been a rise in the level of violence generally. I
know it will be argued that the majority of assaults are of the push-and-shove style. Quite clearly, I think
magistrates can deal with that. That is why I was pleased when I saw the new legislation that came into this
house. It does, to a degree, take care of some of that discord. I agree with the minister absolutely on this. I was
very angry the other day when both our side of the house and the other side of the house spent another day
arguing about whose fault it was that it took 15 months for that piece of legislation to get through this house. I
walked out of the chamber that day and I was angry about it.
Mr R.F. Johnson interjected.
Mr R.C. KUCERA: Both sides of the house. I am not going to get into that argument with the member for
Hillarys. He can hang his head also. We played silly political games on that issue for 15 months, and 1 838
police officers and public officers were bashed in this town while we waited for that legislation to go through. I
really believe that that legislation gives us an opportunity to send a very clear message to the judiciary in this
town. However, I have a number of other concerns. Mention was made today of Matt Butcher. I saw Katrina’s
face after Matt was bashed, and I saw the face of his mother, Gayle. I also saw her face a few years ago when a
similar tragedy happened to another member of their family, also a police officer. I have seen that same look on
the faces of countless wives and mothers, including my own mother and my own wife. However, the law is in
place now. Let us start to move on. I believe that those amendments send a very clear message to every
magistrate and judge in this state that bashing a copper will not be tolerated. However, I can also appreciate the
anger that is being felt by my former police colleagues who are out on the streets. The legislation has been
strengthened. Parliament has spoken, and I think the message is very clear. It must be heeded, otherwise judicial
discretion will clearly be threatened. There is no doubt about that. However, it is a basic tenet of the law. In 40-
odd years, on the occasions on which I have seen mandatory sentencing imposed—it has happened on a number
of occasions in this state—each time it has been an abject failure, because the lawyers and the smart people out
there find every device they can to get around it, and the very thing that we set out to do drops away. The very
thing that we wanted to achieve gets lost in the arguments and the legal nonsense that goes on. Lawyers will use
every possible device to avoid it.
[Member’s time extended.]
Mr R.C. KUCERA: As I have said, I have never been a fan of mandatory sentencing. I talked about
circumstances. I have listened to the member for Hillarys arguing passionately over the past two days because a
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certain person has been included on a mandatory sex offenders register. That is the great problem with this kind
of legislation. There is no room for circumstance. Whoever bashed Matt Butcher needs to have the bloody book
thrown at him. I say that within the confines of this house, because I do not even know whether that case has
gone to court yet. That message must be clear. I could not count the number of times that I have had to drag
people out of certain circumstances, particularly in cases of domestic violence. In the heat of the moment I was
injured, but I know darned well that it was never intended. Those circumstances existed. The member for
Hillarys argued today about the person’s name going on the register. There are circumstances in which there
should be a discretion to enable the law to be balanced.
I will go back very quickly to the mandatory sentencing of juveniles. Members should look at all the reports that
have been written in the past two years, or in fact in the past five or six years. It is almost 15 years since the
legislation came in. Not one of those reports has been in support of that legislation, and the common complaint
that they make about that legislation is not that it is effective or ineffective, but that the law has in every way
been usurped, twisted and manipulated to try to avoid the imposition of mandatory sentencing. The consequence
of that, I believe, is that there are many people out in the community who should have been properly sentenced
by being sent to jail. However, they have been able to avoid that. Like the member for Murray, I have looked
down the barrel of a gun, and I have rolled in the mud and the blood and the beer, as I have said. I am not talking
about the annual press party when some editor punches one of his reporters. In the real world, at this time, I have
enormous sympathy for my previous colleagues and, more importantly, for their families. As I have said, I have
also seen myriad instances in which things go dreadfully wrong, when there needs to be a balance and a degree
of discretion.
After 15 months, with the passage of that legislation recently, the message that this Parliament has sent is that
serious assaults cannot continue without the offenders being punished appropriately. I think I need to keep
repeating that for the benefit of our judiciary. Serious assaults cannot continue without offenders receiving the
appropriate punishment. The discretion that the judiciary has been applying must apply first and foremost in
considering punishment. Secondly, the judiciary must consider, in its discretion, the victim. Thirdly,
consideration must be given to the community. Lastly, and only lastly, the perpetrator or the offender should be
considered. There seems to have been somewhat of a reversal; that is the perception.
Recently, the Chief Justice commented on this issue, and I thought it was a very scholarly article. I did not agree
with all of it, but the Chief Justice certainly pointed out some issues. I will also say that at some stage we should
attempt to have Justice McKechnie come to this house and give to all of us the presentation on sentencing that he
gave at a Uniting Church breakfast that I attended last year. Some 60 people were in the audience. John
McKechnie is no airy-fairy judge; he is a real person who knows how things are and who knows from his own
family circumstances what it means to have things go wrong. In my view, he is one of the better judges we have
had in this state over the years. He took us through a system of sentencing, and at the end of the day, the
sentences that the people in that room gave out, based on their own perceptions, were about half of what he
actually gave in those instances. The great problem with all this is that it is a matter of perception. I do not deny
that those 40 or 50 cases that went before the court in the past two years or so, as Chief Justice Wayne Martin
said, need to be re-examined.
There is another issue here for us, and I will get onto that very quickly in a moment. However, I will quickly
give members some figures from Justice Martin’s article. Eighty thousand penalties were dished out in this state
last year. The ones that were questioned numbered fewer than 50. There may be a reason for that; I do not know.
However, I believe, as he said—I think we should hold him to this—that the court should lead, not wait to be led.
Therefore, I think the message is out there for Chief Justice Martin and the rest of the judiciary that this
Parliament has spoken about the penalties that have been given. The Chief Justice is against mandatory
sentencing generally and, quite frankly, I can understand why. The other thing is that if we take discretion away
from judges and magistrates, they, similar to the solicitors who twist and turn, will look at every way they can to
make sure that they retain a degree of discretion within the process. Mark my words; that is what will happen.
Here is the rub. The problem is: at the moment, are the police right in the view that they have on this general
perception? Is Wayne Martin right on this general issue? I do not know. Is The West Australian right? I always
know about The West Australian. I do not know whether I am right about this. I do not know whether this issue
has become so bad that we need to undermine a basic tenet of English justice and take away the discretion of the
judiciary. I do not know whether it is that bad; I honestly do not. I see Matt Butcher and his wife and his mother,
and I want to go out and absolutely strangle somebody when I see them. I would probably be locked up for 12
months under the opposition’s proposed sentencing regime. There is the rub; we do not know whether we are
right. No-one actually knows whether all these sentences are manifestly unfair. I do not even know whether the
police commissioner exercises his discretion and appeals every one of these sentences. If he has any gumption,
every time he thinks there is a manifestly unfair sentence, he should be battering down the Director of Public
Prosecutions’ door and appealing. I do not even know whether that is happening.
Mr R.F. Johnson: We shouldn’t have to appeal them all.
2112                                [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]

Mr R.C. KUCERA: I do not know and neither do members opposite. I do not know how many appeals there
are. I do not even know whether the police commissioner has enough money for appeals. A senior police officer
told me the other day—I do not know whether this is true—that the reason the police do not appeal these
sentences is there is not enough money in the budget. I would be concerned if that was the case, but I doubt that
would be the case, quite frankly. This is such a fundamental right and we simply do not know.
Mr M.J. Cowper: Will the member take an interjection?
Mr R.C. KUCERA: No, I will not.
Much has been said about the range of assaults perpetrated. I heard the member for Murdoch raise these issues in
his very scholarly address. However, I do not believe that we really know whether the definitions and the
delineation of these assaults are correct. I would honestly like to know that before I start passing judgement on a
piece of hastily cobbled together legislation that, quite frankly, has been introduced by the opposition as a
political stunt. I think members opposite do a disservice in doing that.
Several members interjected.
Mr R.C. KUCERA: I am further concerned that, apart from some anecdotal evidence, we do not know whether
the sentences given are being carried out. I agree with the opposition that there should not be suspended
sentences for serious assaults on police or any public officer. I think they should go by the board. There is no
place for them in our justice system. On the other hand, a lot has been said about the judiciary. Perhaps they are
ignoring public sentiment; perhaps they are out of touch. I simply do not know. All my life I have dealt with
issues based on evidence that is clearly put before me.
Mr M.J. Cowper: You are closer than most of us to these issues.
Mr R.C. KUCERA: I also do not know about the complete range of assaults on public officers. I am told that
the 1 838 figure I was given applies from the start of the last financial year up to this date. I do not know whether
that is true; Mick Dean gave me that figure when we discussed this issue. I do not know about the
appropriateness of the existing charges. I do not even know whether the police lay the proper charges. Perhaps
that is why we do not get the sentences; I do not know. I do not know whether the police are being properly
trained in the elements of the offences.
Several members interjected.
Mr R.C. KUCERA: I can understand why the member only got to Sergeant.
Several members interjected.
Mr R.C. KUCERA: I do not know the actual and real statistics about the nature and the number of charges and
their relevance or the nature of the injuries that are inflicted, if indeed there were injuries.
Several members interjected.
Mr R.C. KUCERA: Madam Acting Speaker, can I please have some protection?
Mr M.J. Cowper: I will give you the protection you need and so will those blokes in the public gallery. I am on
my way out of the chamber.
The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms K. Hodson-Thomas): Order, member for Murray! That is highly inappropriate
and the member knows better. As an Acting Speaker, the member knows that members are not allowed to speak
when they are out of their seats.
Mr R.C. KUCERA: I thank the Acting Speaker.
I do not even know whether there is a proper comparison between the different courts of jurisdiction. I do not
know what sentencing options were available, but I know what is now available. I do not know about the nature
of the sentences that were given. We had members today give some examples of sentences, and I agree with the
minister and the member for Hillarys that those sentences were manifestly unfair. I do not even know whether
they were appealed against.
I notice that the minister has asked for a review of these issues over the next couple of years. I must say that I
have some concerns about that, and I have already discussed some of these concerns with the minister. Before
we even consider wiping out a basic tenet of our Westminster-style justice system, I would like some facts put
before me. If those facts clearly demonstrate that the judges are not listening to the community or this
Parliament, I would be more than happy to support the Acts Amendment (Assaults on Police Officers) Bill 2008
before this house. However, I simply do not know; even the prosecutor who has recently joined us does not
know. He knows of individual cases, he knows the range of sentencing options that are available, but he would
not know whether those sentences were being carried out. He would not know whether the Commissioner of
Police regularly appeals these issues. He would know whether the people coming before him knew the elements
of the offence before they even laid those charges. This is simply one of those issues.
                                     [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]                                         2113

I clearly remember the thousands of people who marched up the hill demanding mandatory sentences for
juveniles. Whether or not this bill passes through this place today, I strongly suggest that the minister upgrade
the review I mentioned earlier into a high-powered task force, under his direction, to review and report to this
house on all these matters that have been raised, as a matter of urgency.
Mr R.F. Johnson: We wouldn’t want you on that task force!
Mr R.C. KUCERA: Will the member for Hillarys be quiet for a moment?
The task force could provide this Parliament with a clear statistical picture of the incidents of assaults on public
officers, the nature and severity of those assaults —
Mr R.F. Johnson: You’ve got them!
Mr R.C. KUCERA: We have not; all we have is the member’s anecdotal rubbish that he normally brings into
this house.
The task force could investigate the nature of the sentences that were applied, and the outcome of the sentences
preferred from 1 January—as far back as members opposite want to take it; we could go back to 2000. I do not
mind. The task force could also consider the appropriateness of the current range of charges that can be laid
under existing legislation and the priority of the definitions that we have—we do not know any of this stuff—and
the extent to which these definitions and offences reflect the range of assaults and their severity. I have an entire
range of other options that I am more than happy to give to the minister.
I think we have given a very clear message—if not today, then since the other legislation was passed—to all the
judiciary that it is about time they sat up and started to take notice. Again, who am I to say that when the
judiciary may very well be taking notice?
Mr R.F. Johnson interjected.
Mr R.C. KUCERA: Of the 79 950 cases that were determined in our courts last year, it may very well be that
all the sentences passed were manifestly correct. The other 50 cases that the Chief Justice referred to were
manifestly unfair. If those sentences are manifestly unfair, is the process of appeal appropriate? Is the appeal
process being used properly? Is the Commissioner of Police doing his job? Is the Director of Public Prosecutions
doing his job? Do these people have enough money to do their jobs? I do not know any of these things. Before
we charge in and get rid of a basic tenet of the justice system in this country—not just in this country but in the
Westminster system—let us have some evidence before this Parliament so we know exactly what to do. I must
say that there is an old saying—I do not know where it came from—that the road to hell is paved with good
intentions. I do not decry the opposition for its intention to protect the police officers of this state. I do not decry
the fact that we have upped the sentences as far as we can go. However, I like to know what I am doing before I
vote for a bill that, if passed, would undermine and undo a justice system that has been around for thousands of
years. This justice system dates right back to Roman times; it goes right back to the Romans!
Several members interjected.
Mr R.C. KUCERA: I sincerely hope that the amendments we have introduced and the tools we have recently
given to the judiciary are used appropriately. Let us be certain about what we are doing in seeking to support our
police officers and our other public officers. As I have said, I know where they have been. Let us be sure about
what we are doing.
MR J.A. McGINTY (Fremantle — Attorney General) [6.19 pm]: I want to draw the house’s attention to the
fact that in two and a half weeks, new laws designed to offer far greater protection to our police officers will
come into force in this state; that is on 27 April. These new laws will provide for far tougher sentences in
recognition of the fact that what is currently dished out by the judiciary does not adequately reflect the
seriousness of crimes against the police. To that end, I thank the member for Yokine for his contribution, with
which I agree wholeheartedly, and for the way in which he put forward the position on the challenges that
confront people today. That is the first thing the new legislation will do. I will return to the detail about the
tougher new provisions that will enable the judiciary to hand down sentences that more adequately reflect the
seriousness of assaults on public officers, particularly police officers.
The second thing that the legislation does is provide for more targeted offences. One of the problems alluded to
by the member for Yokine is that there is essentially one offence referred to in the Criminal Code as a serious
assault. It used to be known as assault on a public officer. It carried a penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment for
everything ranging from the most minor technical assault through to grievous bodily harm. Assaults on public
officers were all incorporated under one offence. The government has broken that down into three separate
offences, each to be dealt with in its own band of seriousness. These are grievous bodily harm on a public
officer, actual bodily harm on a public officer and assault of a public officer. That will enable us in future—this
was referred to by the member for Yokine and the Minister for Police and Emergency Services—to drill down
2114                                [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]

into offences against police officers to have a better understanding of the gravity and seriousness of the offences,
and the circumstances surrounding the offences.
The third thing that the new legislation does is provide for more assaults against police officers to be dealt with
only in superior courts. In other words, it will remove those offences from the jurisdiction of magistrates and
place them in superior courts. We already have that for assaults occasioning grievous bodily harm; they have to
be dealt with in a superior court. The legislation will provide that those assaults that take place in company or in
which a weapon is involved —
Mr R.F. Johnson: Aggravated assaults.
Mr J.A. McGINTY: Aggravated assaults, which can currently be dealt with by a magistrate and generally are,
will in future be required to be dealt with in a superior court. In other words, those assault cases will not be
disposed of quickly before a magistrate with, generally speaking, significantly weaker sentencing powers; they
will be dealt with in a superior court that has a greater range of sentencing options available to it.
Mr C.C. Porter: Can assaults occasioning bodily harm still be dealt with by magistrates if they do not occasion
circumstances of aggravation?
Mr J.A. McGINTY: Yes, that is right. That is why I pointed out those particular assaults involving aggravated
All of this came about as a result of discussions between the government, the Commissioner of Police and the
Director of Public Prosecutions more than two years ago. The government could see then that there were
problems with the way in which assaults on police officers in particular, but also other public officers such as
nurses in emergency departments, were not being dealt with in a way that reflected the seriousness of the crimes
committed. We wanted to construct a new provision within the Criminal Code that would achieve a far greater
concordance between the nature of the offence and the punishment meted out by the courts. I asked the Director
of Public Prosecutions, Robert Cock, QC, to engage in an analysis of the existing law to the extent that he could
and to engage at the same time with the police commissioner. The agreement which came forward and which is
reflected in the Criminal Law and Evidence Amendment Bill was arrived at between Commissioner of Police
Karl O’Callaghan and Director of Public Prosecutions Robert Cock as the best way forward to deal with the very
problem that we are discussing in Parliament tonight. That was the agreement, reflected in this legislation, that
the government introduced to Parliament, if my memory serves me correctly, in about March or April 2006.
Mr C.C. Porter: Was the Police Union involved in those negotiations?
Mr J.A. McGINTY: I am not sure; I asked the police commissioner and the head of the DPP to meet, confer
and discuss these matters. I am not sure about the extent to which the police commissioner may or may not have
consulted with the Police Union.
Mr R.F. Johnson: I don’t believe they were.
Mr J.A. McGINTY: It does not matter for the present purposes.
Mr J.C. Kobelke: I did.
Mr J.A. McGINTY: The Minister for Police consulted with the Police Union at the time about these matters. In
fact, I remember him telling me at the time that he did exactly that.
The important thing was that we had expert minds having a good look at the issue of how best to deal with a
problem that we all know exists out there. It is a now a matter of public record and considerable disappointment
that the Parliament—I refer to the upper house—let down the people of Western Australia and the police force.
Mr R.F. Johnson: You can’t say that.
Mr J.A. McGINTY: I just said it.
Mr R.F. Johnson: Your Leader of the House in the upper house did not bring the legislation on.
Mr J.A. McGINTY: Madam Acting Speaker, I make the point that I listened to the member for Hillarys in
silence when he spoke, and I have serious points to make about this matter.
It is a matter of public record that that bill languished in the Legislative Council for a period of approximately 18
months. It was certainly longer than 12 months.
Mr R.F. Johnson: Your leader up there didn’t bring it on. You know that.
Mr J.A. McGINTY: The member can cast whatever aspersions he wishes to. The fact of the matter is —
Mr R.F. Johnson: It’s true!
The ACTING SPEAKER: Order, member for Hillarys!
                                     [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]                                        2115

Mr J.A. McGINTY: The Legislative Council let down the people and the police force of this state by not
progressing the legislation. The member will recall that when the legislation was returned to the Legislative
Assembly, after having languished for so long in the upper house, it was treated with absolute priority and was
dealt with in one day. There were minor amendments and the government treated the legislation seriously
because it was something that should have been accorded that measure of seriousness. That is the background to
this matter.
Legislation is about to come into effect that reflects the agreement of our senior law enforcement agencies—our
senior prosecutor and our senior police officer—as the best way forward to deal with the quite proper demand
from the community to deal more severely with people who bash police officers. That is a perfectly legitimate
demand. In common with everyone else in the community, my stomach turned at the sight of some of the photos
and graphic illustrations of assaults on our public officers, which are totally unacceptable and must be punished
most severely. That is what the legislation seeks to do.
I return to the most serious form of assault, which is assault occasioning bodily harm. I do not make this point
other than as a factual point, but there is nothing in the opposition’s legislation to help Constable Matt Butcher,
or to in any way at all affect the circumstances confronting either him or the person who committed that
cowardly assault on him; absolutely nothing. The opposition is saying that the assault must have a mandatory
minimum sentence of 12 months because it involves grievous bodily harm. That is frankly laughable, because
assuming that the person who committed the assault is convicted, he will receive a significantly greater sentence
than 12 months.
Mr R.F. Johnson: What will it be, then?
Mr J.A. McGINTY: I am not going to engage in silly speculation.
The matter is about to go before the court. Assuming the person is found guilty, I would expect a very severe
sentence to be handed down by the court. I can tell the member now that it will not be one year. It would be
inconceivable for that to be the case.
Mr R.F. Johnson: Will it be 14? Will it be 10?
Mr J.A. McGINTY: Justice member for Hillarys can speculate all he likes, because he would not have the
foggiest idea.
Let me make this point: the key element of the change we have made in our legislation, which is too late to help
Constable Butcher, is the doubling of the maximum penalty available for future comparable cases involving
assaults on police officers and grievous bodily harm. I would expect that proportionately, as a result of that,
sentences will dramatically increase.
Mr C.C. Porter: For that offence?
Mr J.A. McGINTY: Yes.
Mr C.C. Porter: What about the lower end of the scale?
Mr J.A. McGINTY: At the moment I am talking only about grievous bodily harm. People have spoken
passionately about Constable Butcher, and I think it angered everyone in the community enormously to see what
happened there. At the moment, the court can impose a maximum of 10 years discounted by one-third, which is
six years and eight months. That is the maximum that can be imposed for that assault, because that is the
maximum penalty that the legislation allows. With the changes that will become law in two and a half weeks—I
think it is unfortunate but we will see other assaults against police officers in the future, because that is a reality
of life—we will be in a position to say that the maximum penalty for such an assault is 14 years with no
discount, so the penalty will more than double. The maximum penalty for the most serious assault on a police
officer will go from six years and eight months to 14 years. That will be dealt with in the District Court; it cannot
be dealt with in a lower court. That is appropriate. The legislation will more than double. The maximum penalty
that can be imposed on someone who commits a serious assault occasioning grievous bodily harm on a police
officer will more than double in two and a half weeks. That is the government’s response. The court’s
responsibility is then to look at the seriousness of the offence and consider the range of time from zero to 14
years, not zero to six years and eight months, which obviously means that the court is limited with what it can do
in the more serious assault cases, and fix a penalty depending on where all the circumstances fit within that range
of zero to 14 years. I have no doubt that the penalties will increase significantly. If members have any doubt
about that, I ask them simply to look at the court’s reasoning in the sentence that was handed down today on the
people responsible for the cowardly attack on the Perth railway transit guards. In that case—we have all seen the
footage on television in recent days—the judge said that the appropriate penalty for one of the offenders—I
forget which one—was 33 months’ imprisonment. However, that had to be discounted by one-third because of
the Sentencing Act 1995 provisions; therefore, the sentence was 22 months. In other words, the judge was saying
that, had the new laws been in place, the sentence would have been one-third higher. That is the proper rationale
2116                                [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]

of a judge determining a sentence to be applied in a particular case. In this case of grievous bodily harm—
today’s case was not grievous bodily harm; it was actual bodily harm—I would expect that the judge would fix
somewhere in that range of zero to 14 years, and the sentence would not be required to be discounted by one-
third; therefore, there will be more than a one-third increase in the average penalties that will be handed down
from here on. That is my expectation as a result of the legislation that we—I am including both sides of the
Parliament—passed. We all supported it and that was what we thought was the appropriate response. At the most
serious end, we are not talking about a one-year minimum term for people who commit grievous bodily harm
and assault against a police officer; we are talking about a lot more than that.
I have looked at the figures on sentences handed down by the courts for all cases of grievous bodily harm,
although these are not for harm against public officers. The legislation we have just passed reflects this. Grievous
bodily harm against a police officer or any other public officer ought to be punished more severely than other
assaults because those assaults are against public officers, and a deterrent issue is involved. The average sentence
in all the grievous bodily harm cases that have come before the court so far this financial year has been two
years. I suspect that if we were able to—we were not able to extract the figures—look at only those cases of
grievous bodily harm assaults against police officers, we would find it somewhat higher than that. It was
interesting that, as Tom Percy indicated on the radio the other day, three years was about the going rate for an
assault causing grievous bodily harm to a police officer, in the context of the present legislation, whereas the
maximum is six years and eight months. That seems to be the view about where it is settling at the moment. I
expect that to grow by a significant number of months or years as a result of the changes that are due to come
into effect in two and a half weeks. That is an appropriate response at the top end of the scale because I cannot
imagine anyone who has committed grievous bodily harm on a police officer or a public officer not being sent to
jail. I am unaware of a single case. I have asked if there is a single case in which a person who has committed
grievous bodily harm has not been sent to jail. We all know that if a person is sent to jail, the minimum sentence
at the moment is six months. There is already, effectively, a minimum in the code. However, the real starting
point for the courts is in fact several times higher than what the opposition has proposed in its bill.
The Constable Butcher case is at the very serious end of the scale, so I will not use that as an example, but there
are other lesser, nonetheless very serious, cases of grievous bodily harm for which I am unaware of anyone being
convicted who did not go to jail. Therefore, the mandatory minimum of 12 months will have either no effect or a
negative effect. There is a bit of an inclination to look at a mandatory minimum as the appropriate sentence. My
view—it is supported by other senior criminal lawyers—is that it might in fact lower what we are trying to bump
up. That is one of the reasons I do not support the legislation.
Dr J.M. Woollard: My concern is that, whilst there has been an increase in the number of assaults, is a one-year
minimum the right answer? Offenders who were not hardened criminals when they went to jail are more likely to
be moving along those lines when they come out. I think the offences the Liberal Party is putting up for people
who have assaulted police officers are not severe enough.
Mr J.A. McGINTY: I think the member is right. I think in reality they are much harsher.
[Member’s time extended.]
Mr J.A. McGINTY: That is essentially the point that is made, for instance, by Tom Percy, a leading criminal
defence lawyer. His clients are currently looking at about three years on average for grievous bodily harm. He
would love his clients to receive the one-year minimum sentence that is proposed. However, a more serious issue
is whether, in looking at sentencing, they see that as an indication from the Parliament that that is an appropriate
sentence. In the overwhelming number of cases in which grievous bodily harm has been committed, one year is a
totally inadequate sentence, so I agree with the member on that also.
I think the legislation that is about to come into effect needs to be given a chance. That is the point Karl
O’Callaghan made publicly. It will be significant at the serious end of the scale. We have more than doubled the
penalty. Let us monitor it and see how it works. That is the significance of the police minister’s commitment to
review the legislation over time following the implementation of the new regime for penalties.
I refer now to assaults occasioning bodily harm. That offence covers a range of circumstances for which I am not
sure we want to prescribe a nine-month minimum jail term.
Mr C.C. Porter: Are you talking about aggravated assaults or non-aggravated assaults?
Mr J.A. McGINTY: What is the member for Murdoch proposing?
Mr C.C. Porter: I understand that our proposal is one year for aggravated, and nine months for non-aggravated
bodily harm.
Mr J.A. McGINTY: I will deal with what assault occasioning bodily harm entails. As the Minister for Police
has said —
         The term “bodily harm” means any bodily injury which interferes with health or comfort;
                                    [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]                                       2117

That is the way it is defined in section 1(1) the Criminal Code. I have looked at some of the cases on this issue to
get a better understanding of exactly what that means, because, quite frankly, that implies something that could
be relatively minor. A bruise might be sufficient. In a case that occurred four years ago, heard in the WA
Supreme Court as Smejlis v [2004] WASCA 158, the judge commented as follows —
         . . . there must be some direct or circumstantial evidence to support a finding that the bruise interfered
         with health or comfort.
That is sufficient to establish a case of bodily harm. In another case, Robinson v Smith [2005] WASCA 99, it
was noted —
         Numbness, pain and a lump in the throat are sufficient.
In a further WA Supreme Court appeal case, Brown v Blake [2000] WASCA 132, it was noted —
         Pain that has lasted for a couple of days is sufficient.
In that case, the judge went on to say —
         . . . I take “bodily injury” to mean something in the nature of damage to bone, muscle, tendon, skin,
         organ or any part of which the human body is constructed. The word relates to more than merely a
         sensation of pain.
Mr C.C. Porter: That’s at the lower end of the spectrum, obviously.
Mr J.A. McGINTY: Sure, but that is my point. The reason I started with the grievous bodily harm cases is that I
do not think there is any argument about that point. Grievous bodily harm means an injury that is likely to
endanger life or is permanently injurious to health. We have more than doubled the penalty in those
circumstances, and I have made the point that I think that the member’s proposed penalty for those very serious
assaults that result in grievous bodily harm is inadequate. This is what the Supreme Court has said that bodily
harm means. I take it that they are the minimum definitions that need to be satisfied.
Mr C.C. Porter: You are aware of the decision that basically says that you can have an ear lobe or part of your
ear bitten off and that constitutes bodily harm rather than grievous bodily harm, because there is no permanent
injury to health or no injury likely to endanger life. There is quite a wide spectrum for bodily harm.
Mr J.A. McGINTY: Sure, but, equally, a person could have his little finger cut off and that would be grievous
bodily harm because that could represent —
Mr C.C. Porter: Not necessarily. If it is a cosmetic disfigurement, it would not fall within —
Mr J.A. McGINTY: I think it would, and that is the ear lobe example.
Mr C.C. Porter: Yes, but a pinkie may well fall within bodily harm rather than GBH, but it is a matter of
degree, obviously.
Mr J.A. McGINTY: The judge went on in the case of Brown v Blake to say —
         . . . I am satisfied that as a matter of ordinary human experience one knows that, if pain has lasted, . . .
         for a couple of days then the body has suffered damage.
I just wanted to say that so that we would know what we are talking about, and so that we would separate out the
very serious cases, such as that of Constable Matthew Butcher, from other cases. The new legislation, which is
due to come into effect in two and a half weeks, proposes a one-third increase in the maximum penalty that can
be awarded by a court. I would expect the court to apply, according to the rationale in the example that I gave
today of the assault on the transit guards, the very same logic that it applied when it reduced from 33 months to
22 months the prison term applied to that cowardly assault. That should now work in reverse; that is, it would
have been 22 months under the previous legislation, which required the court to discount the penalty by one-
third; therefore, it should now award 33 months.
Mr R.F. Johnson: I wouldn’t guarantee it.
Mr J.A. McGINTY: That is the rationale behind judicial decision making on imposing penalties.
Mr C.C. Porter: That is correct, but for clarity, again, that is an aggravated assault and the effective maximum
will be increased from 6.6 to 10 years.
Mr J.A. McGINTY: Yes, that is right. Common assault, if I can call it that, against a public officer will have a
maximum penalty of seven years, which is appropriate because of who has been assaulted. It will give the court
the power to prescribe a much more significant penalty.
Mr C.C. Porter: That common assault might result in bodily harm for that maximum, but simply not have a
circumstance of aggravation.
2118                                [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]

Mr J.A. McGINTY: That is right. We have set up a new three-tiered structure, which will not come into effect
until 27 April, that will give us a far better way in which to focus on making sure that the charge is appropriate
for the nature of the assault, rather than having one catch-all provision for assault against a public officer. The
point that the member for Murdoch makes is quite right. The use of a weapon in bodily harm cases, whether it be
a stick or a rock or something else that can be picked up, is sufficient to trigger the more serious penalty. The
recent incident in Meekatharra is a good example of a public officer being assaulted by a person in company.
These incidents often involve drunkenness outside nightclubs and hotels, and the offender is in company every
time. The overwhelming bulk of those cowardly attacks—which are fuelled by alcohol—outside licensed
premises will be caught by the new more serious provision. That is the reason that we have constructed it in that
way. If an offender is in company, that is a circumstance of aggravation and the offence will attract the higher
Mr C.C. Porter: Indeed, your second category doesn’t even require bodily harm, only a circumstance of
aggravation–being in company or armed. I think that’s right.
Mr J.A. McGINTY: I will double-check that. I am dealing just with bodily harm cases. I think the simpler
assaults can often fit into things that should be punished, sometimes by jail. However, often they are of the
nature of what was referred to by the member for Yokine as fitting into that trifecta of what is charged in those
circumstances. I think anyone who has been to the Magistrates Court and seen those three charges come up
together will know that the nature of the assault has caused no damage and no substantive harm, not that anyone
tolerates it or wishes to diminish it. However, if no damage is done to the officer concerned, I think it needs to be
dealt with differently from those more serious assaults to which I have referred.
Mr C.C. Porter: With respect to your lowest category, which is an assault of bodily harm with no circumstance
of aggravation, the increase in the maximum sentence is moderate.
Mr J.A. McGINTY: It is one-third, is it not?
Mr C.C. Porter: No, it’s not. It used to be 10, so, effectively, it used to be 6.6 and now it is seven. The increase
is moderate. You can’t use the one-third to show —
Mr J.A. McGINTY: That is common assault.
Mr C.C. Porter: For an assault of bodily harm without a circumstance of aggravation, the effective increase in
the maximum is 6.6 to seven years.
Mr J.A. McGINTY: I do not think that is right, but I will double-check it. The important point is the more
serious offences, and they are the ones that have excited the public passion on this. They are substantively dealt
with in that legislation in those circumstances.
Mr C.C. Porter: But are they, though? What about offences such as biting?
Mr J.A. McGINTY: I am sorry; I have only three minutes left and I would like to make one other point that I
think is critical. One of the things that the member’s bill will do is provide that no matter what type of assault is
made on a public officer, a spent conviction cannot be recorded. I agree with that. Anyone who assaults a public
officer should be dealt with harshly. We have the test case. I spoke to the Director of Public Prosecutions today
and he advised me that he has considered the particular case involving Mr Daubney. In this case, the police
officer was talking to some people in Northbridge at one o’clock in the morning of 13 March. He did not know
these people; he was a complete stranger. As it has been described, Daubney grabbed the police officer from
behind by the neck and shoulders and pulled him backwards and the officer suffered minor injuries. A spent
conviction was recorded in that case. I think that is totally inappropriate. That is why the Commissioner of Police
raised with the DPP the need for an appeal. I thought there was a need for an appeal. I also discussed the matter
with Robert Cock. Of course, he is completely independent in his decision making. He has advised me today that
he will lodge an appeal.
Mr C.C. Porter: Should that person go to jail?
Mr J.A. McGINTY: I do not know enough about the circumstances. I know that that person should not get a
spent conviction. That is my very strong view on that. I am hopeful that the Supreme Court will have the
opportunity to pronounce on this question of spent convictions. We will go to court and strongly argue that a
spent conviction is totally inappropriate when someone has assaulted a public officer. That is the argument that
will be determined by the court. If the Supreme Court pronounces to that effect, that will obviate the need for
that particular clause in the bill that the member has proposed. I make this point by way of commentary on the
police: they have never once in recent years appealed a spent conviction being granted for an assault on a public
officer. That is a matter that I have raised with Karl O’Callaghan. Others have also raised it. I am very pleased
that the police are taking that action. I raise that point not as a direct criticism, but as an observation that they
have never appealed those types of spent convictions. They will now do it. Subject to what the Supreme Court
has to say about it, that should deal comprehensively with that part of the legislation before us.
                                    [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]                                        2119

I will close on this point: we have new legislation that has not even come into effect yet. It deals particularly
with the most serious assaults against police officers; that is, those that anger the public so much. It should be
given a chance to work.
DR J.M. WOOLLARD (Alfred Cove) [6.49 pm]: I will be brief. I do not think, as has been suggested by the
member for Yokine, that this is a political stunt by the opposition. I do not think it is a political stunt when four
police officers are assaulted on a daily basis. I am pleased that the Acts Amendment (Assaults on Police
Officers) Bill 2008 is being debated in this house. As I said previously to the Attorney General, I do not think
that this legislation is strong enough for serious offenders. Whilst this bill will not get the government’s support
tonight, I am pleased that a bill will be introduced into the house in the next few weeks.
Mr R.F. Johnson: They won’t even let it go to a vote tonight because a deal has been done by the minister to get
the member for whoever it is to talk about it.
Mr J.C. Kobelke: Member, if you are talking about the bill that’s already gone through, it is at the proclamation
Mr J.A. McGinty: The one that I was talking about is about to be proclaimed. It’s already gone through.
The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms K. Hodson-Thomas): Order, members! I notice that when the member for
Alfred Cove is on her feet, there are incessant interjections across the chamber. They are not helpful and they do
not contribute to her speech. I ask members to refrain from having conversations across the chamber.
Dr J.M. WOOLLARD: I am very pleased that the bill that the Attorney General was referring to will be
proclaimed in a few weeks and it will increase the penalties. That bill has been on the table. The police officers
who have come to this place tonight and sought this bill obviously feel that that will be insufficient. It is possibly
time for the government to give more detailed consideration to this issue because the assaults on police officers
are not acceptable. We need to have harsher penalties. We need to get the message out to the community that
assaulting public officers such as police and nurses is not acceptable to the community and it should not be
accepted by this Parliament. I congratulate the member for Hillarys for bringing this bill to the house.
The ACTING SPEAKER: The question is that the bill be read a second time. I call the member for Peel.
Mr R.F. Johnson: The reluctant member for Peel. He wasn’t going to speak on this bill. It will not go to a vote
tonight. Let the gallery know that the minister does not want to vote on this because he will be shown up.
The ACTING SPEAKER: The member for Peel has the call.
MR P. PAPALIA (Peel) [6.52 pm]: Thank you, Madam Acting Speaker.
Mr P.B. Watson: Listen to what he says first.
The ACTING SPEAKER: The member for Peel has not even spoken yet. I will have no hesitation in calling
members to order.
Mr P. PAPALIA: The member for Hillarys is assigning me a far more Machiavellian mind than I could possibly
Mr R.F. Johnson: Because he doesn’t want to go to a vote.
Mr P. PAPALIA: Unlike some members, I have sat in this chamber through the entire debate. The member for
Hillarys knows that and he knows that I have had some interest in it. I intend to speak only briefly.
Mr R.F. Johnson: Five minutes so we can go to a vote?
Mr P. PAPALIA: I wanted to record my support for the police. Unlike the member for Murray and the member
for Yokine, I cannot claim the honour of having been an ex-police officer. However, I have served in uniform. I
know the spirit of camaraderie and pride that such service engenders.
Several members interjected.
The ACTING SPEAKER: I call the members for Albany and Hillarys to order.
Mr P. PAPALIA: I also have a brother who is a long-serving senior police officer. I do not need to read The
West Australian or watch Channels Seven, Nine or 10 to get an anecdotal report of the pain, suffering and
anxiety experienced by family members of a police officer who has been assaulted. Those assaults have resulted
in broken limbs or injuries caused after having been bitten by an individual who is infected with a contagious
disease. I have sat beside my brother in those circumstances. I share the obvious concerns of members on both
sides of this place about the safety of police officers in this state. Some of the acts that have been committed
against our police officers, particularly those that have been reported in recent times in all media in Western
Australia, are offensive and an affront to our society. These assaults concern our society. However, it does not do
any good to respond as the Leader of the Opposition did this evening when he tried to imply that the government
2120                                [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]

was somehow responsible for these offensive acts and horrendous assaults on police. That is not the case. The
member for Hillarys knows that and I know that. We are all just as concerned for the safety of our police.
Mr R.F. Johnson: Let’s go to a vote then. You’re under instructions not to.
Mr P. PAPALIA: Until today I was under the impression that the police commissioner opposed mandatory
sentencing and wanted to see the result of this new government legislation. I understood he publicly stated that
he was waiting to see the outcome of the introduction of that legislation. The first I heard that that was not the
case was tonight when the member for Murray told us that that was not the case. I was deferring to the advice of
individuals who have far greater experience with this bill than I have, including the member for Yokine, my
brother and the police commissioner. I understand that serving police officers are suffering from a lot of anxiety.
I share that. My gut instinct is to respond in support and take away that discretion. However, people with far
more experience than I suggest that taking away that discretionary opportunity from the courts may result in an
entirely different outcome from what we are hoping for, particularly at the lower end of the spectrum. At this
stage the right thing to do is to support the government’s legislation and watch very closely. If it does not result
in the outcome that we all want, I would absolutely support mandatory sentencing. In fact, I would be arguing
for it in our party room, and I do not think I would be alone. Just as many members on our side of the house as
members opposite would advocate that if the legislation we are introducing does not result in the outcome that
we all want.
Mr R.F. Johnson: You’ve got to keep going.
Mr P. PAPALIA: No, I do not actually. I was advised that I could speak. My main objective was to
acknowledge the fact that police officers were so concerned about this issue that they showed up this evening. It
would have been offensive for me to remain seated and not place on the record my respect for them and my
concern for their safety.
Mr R.F. Johnson: There won’t be a vote taken on this tonight.
The ACTING SPEAKER: Do I need to remind members of what I said earlier? The member for Peel has the
floor. I will not tolerate any further interjections.
Mr P. PAPALIA: Noting that the member for Murray raised the issue, I would also like to refer to the subject of
compensation for police. When the member for Murray’s Police (Compensation for Injured Officers)
Amendment Bill 2006 was debated on Tuesday, 16 October 2007, I voted against it. I received email
correspondence from a concerned police officer. I shared a great deal of empathy for that officer when he
outlined his situation and asked me why I had voted against the bill by the member for Murray. I explained to
him that I had a great deal of empathy for those who served in uniform—I obviously cared about my brother and
his colleagues—but the legislation proposed by the member for Murray was not well constructed. As I
understand it, seeking advice from people who are more learned, experienced and knowledgeable than I in this
matter, the proposed legislation stood to jeopardise the office of constable and possibly put at risk the high level
medical care that police officers are currently afforded. They are currently afforded good medical care whilst
they serve. We were all concerned about what would happen if they are discharged for reasons of not being fit to
serve in the future. I would argue that we are compelled to introduce compensation to fix that situation as soon as
Mr J.C. Kobelke: We have agreed with the police union and it is being drafted and we want it done as quickly
as we can get it done.
Mr P. PAPALIA: The only reason we have not been discussing it much more in the party room is that the
minister advised us that there were discussions with the police union.
Mr J.C. Kobelke: The discussions have gone to agreement.
Debate interrupted, pursuant to standing orders.
                                           House adjourned at 7.00 pm
                                    [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]                                   2121

                                          QUESTIONS ON NOTICE

                                Questions and answers are as supplied to Hansard.

                                  HOMESWEST HOUSING — DALYELLUP
3117.    Dr S.C. Thomas to the Minister for Housing and Works
With regards to the town site of Dalyellup, I ask:
         (a)      how many three bedroom Homeswest homes are occupied in Dalyellup;
         (b)      how many four bedroom Homeswest homes are occupied in Dalyellup;
         (c)      how many Homeswest homes are currently under construction in Dalyellup;
         (d)      when East Dalyellup has been completed, how many homes will Homeswest have within the
                  entire town site; and
         (e)      how many people are on the wait list for the town site of Dalyellup?
Mrs M.H. ROBERTS replied:
The Department of Housing and Works advises:
a)       As at 31 January 2008 the Department had 27 three bedroom properties occupied.
b)       As at 31 January 2008 the Department had 12 four bedroom properties occupied.
c)       The State Government has committed more than $655 million to provide more affordable social
         housing. This investment will contribute towards delivering at least 1124 more social housing units over
         four years. In Dalyellup there are currently 24 Homeswest homes under construction.
d)       The development plan for the balance of East Dalyellup is not finalised however it is anticipated there
         will be approximately 950 to 1000 dwellings with the Department acquiring land for 80 to 100 social
         housing dwellings.
e)       Dalyellup is in the Bunbury preference area. As at 31 January 2008 there were 485 applications for the
         Bunbury preference area. Within the Bunbury preference area, the Department is operating both a
         construction and purchase program to increase social housing numbers.
3127.    Mr T.R. Buswell to the Minister for Education and Training
(1)      How many schools are planned for construction by the Department of Education and Training in WA
         within the next three years?
(2)      Where will these schools be located?
Mr M. McGOWAN replied:
(1)-(2) The State Government has announced that 15 schools will be built over the next three years.
         These schools will be built in the localities of Australind, Bunbury, Clarkson, Craigie, Dalyellup,
         Darch, Fitzroy Crossing, Girrawheen, Greenwood, Karratha, Lockridge, Lynwood, Madeley, Safety
         Bay and Success.
                                       DEANMORE PRIMARY SCHOOL
3128.    Mr T.R. Buswell to the Minister for Education and Training
(1)      How many of the classrooms at Deanmore Primary School that were closed last year because of
         building issues, such as asbestos, concrete cancer and unpleasant odours, have been re-opened and are
         now fully operational?
(2)      How many classrooms are still closed?
(3)      Of those in question (2), what work is still to be done before these rooms are re-opened?
Mr M. McGOWAN replied:
(1)      Three classrooms.
(2)      Five classrooms.
(3)      The outstanding work includes the replacement of window panels in four classrooms and the
         identification and rectification of an unpleasant odour in these classrooms. The window panels are
2122                                 [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]

          scheduled to be replaced during the April school holidays whilst decommissioned drains outside of
          affected classrooms were filled with concrete last week.
                                     TRAFFIC LIGHTS — MOUNT RICHON
3143.     Mr A.J. Simpson to the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure
In reference to the planned traffic lights at the intersection of Bedfordale Hill Road / William Street / South
Western Highway in Mount Richon, can the Minister advise:
          (a)      why work has failed to commence, when the Minister assured in a letter
                   dated 23 February 2007 that these lights would be completed before the end of June 2007; and
          (b)      when is it expected that these traffic lights will be installed and operational;
          (c)      if the Minister cannot provide an answer to (b), why has no approximate date for completion
                   been established?
Ms A.J.G. MacTIERNAN replied:
(a)       I am advised by Main Roads that it regrets the previously planned project completion date could not be
          met. Delays have been experienced in negotiating service relocations, combined with design changes to
          include retaining walls and a crash barrier that where recommended through the public consultation
          process and availability of work crews.
(b)-(c)   Civil construction work in conjunction with signal installation is expected to commence early in the
          new financial year. This is the earliest the City of Armadale's workforce will be available. The signals
          will then be commissioned following connection by Western Power.
3144.     Dr K.D. Hames to the Minister for Corrective Services
Minister, I note that Dreamtime Consultancy was awarded a contract for Tender No. 2997/2007 for Aboriginal
Cultural Awareness Training on 17 January 2008 and ask:
          (a)      who were the other six tenders from;
          (b)      how much was each tender;
          (c)      what does the Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Training entail;
          (d)      where will the training take place;
          (e)      how many people will participate in the training;
          (f)      how many indigenous people will participate in the training;
          (g)      what percentage of the contract is allocated to administration and travel;
          (h)      what other contracts were allocated to the Dreamtime Consultancy; and
          (i)      how much were the contracts for?
Ms M.M. QUIRK replied:
(a)       The State Supply Commission has advised that "Normal practice is not to release this information as
          unsuccessful tenderers object on the basis that it gives their competitors information that negatively
          impacts on them commercially for future work. The information that must be released in accordance
          with the State Supply Commission on Open and Effective Competition is the name and total contract
          price or total estimated contract price of the successful bidder."
          This is the only information that is publicly available, and the Department has complied with the policy
          above by this response.
(b)       See (a) above.
(c)       To enable Departmental staff to effectively engage with Aboriginal offenders to assist in reducing the
          level of participation of Aboriginal people in the justice system.
(d)       Principally the course will be conducted at the Corrective Services Academy.
(e)       It is estimated that up to 5000 participants could attend the training courses. This has been calculated as
          roughly 250 courses of up to 20 persons per course over a 5 year period.
(f)       Although the Department is unable to estimate the participation at this time, it is hoped that there will
          be some participation from the Indigenous community.
                                    [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]                                     2123

(g)     There is no allocation for administration and travel. The contract value is solely for the provision of the
        training courses.
(h)     Nil.
(i)     Nil.
                                    SCHOOL MAINTENANCE PROGRAM
3146.   Mr J.H.D. Day to the Minister for Education and Training
With reference to the $65m school maintenance program announced on August 8, 2004, will the Minister advise:
        (a)      how much has been spent in:
                 (i)        2004-2005;
                 (ii)       2005-2006;
                 (iii)      2006-2007; and
                 (iv)       to date in 2007-08;
        (b)      how much is expected to be spent in the remainder of 2007-2008; and
        (c)      for each of the above years, which schools have had, or will have, maintenance undertaken,
                 and what is the value for each school?
Mr M. McGOWAN replied:
It is anticipated that a total of $72 million will be spent on the "Fixing Our Schools" maintenance program as
outlined below.
(a)     (i)      $12.6 million
        (ii)     $25.5 million
        (iii)    $19.4 million
        (iv)     $2.5 million
(b)     $12 million
(c)     [See paper 3773.]
                                   KALAMUNDA SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL
3148.   Mr J.H.D. Day to the Minister for Education and Training
With reference to Kalamunda Senior High School:
        (a)      what is the current estimated value of maintenance which is required;
        (b)      what are the details of maintenance which is required;
        (c)      have funds been allocated for such maintenance; and
        (d)      if not, when will funds be allocated?
Mr M. McGOWAN replied:
(a)-(d) The State Government is undertaking a record $300million maintenance programme in Western
        Australia's public schools. For the Member's information, this contrasts with maintenance expenditure
        of only $206 million during the final four years of the previous Coalition Government.
        Schools have access to numerous funding sources for maintenance issues, including annual school
        budget allocations; funds provided to district offices for emergency or extra-ordinary maintenance
        issues and central funding through programmes such as the Fixing Our Schools Programme. I am
        advised that more than $5 million has been spent on maintenance and capital works at Kalamunda
        Senior High School since 2001. Maintenance issues at Western Australian public schools are addressed
        on a priority basis.
                                  RENTAL PROPERTIES — LETTING FEES
3153.   Ms. K. Hodson-Thomas to the Minister for Consumer Protection
Last year the government banned real estate agents charging tenants a letting fee on taking up a rental property,
which was normally the equivalent of one (1) week’s rent. I am informed that real estate agents are now passing
this cost on to the landlords by having instituted an additional fee, which is usually the equivalent of two (2)
weeks’ rent. Can the minister advise:
2124                               [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]

        (a)      has the Department of Consumer and Employment been made aware of this new charge;
        (b)      was this the government’s intent when it abolished a letting fee, to simply transfer the cost
                 from tenants to landlords;
        (c)      are real estate agents acting within the law when they charge this letting fee of 2 weeks’ rent to
        (d)      can the minister or the department advise why the letting fee suddenly doubled;
        (e)      will the minister or the department take action to close this loophole; and
        (f)      do landlords have any recourse under the law to refuse to pay this letting fee?
Ms S.M. McHALE replied:
(a)     Agents charging landlords a letting fee is not new. Prior to the amendment on 5 April 2007, the
        Residential Tenancies Act 1987 (“the RTA”) provided that real estate agents could charge property
        owners a letting fee set at a maximum amount equivalent to two weeks’ rent. Additionally, the act
        allowed property owners to subsidise a portion of this cost by requesting that the tenant make a payment
        to the real estate agent of a maximum amount equivalent to one week’s rent.
        The amendment to the RTA, which was made possible by this government proclaiming amendments
        that were passed, proclaimed and then deproclaimed by the then Liberal government in 1995, removed
        the ability for a property owner or real estate agent to request payment from the tenant for the real estate
        agent’s services in letting the property.
(b)     The cost of attracting and selecting new tenants to a rental property is appropriately the responsibility of
        the owner, not the tenant. The owner is the person who is in the business of letting out the property for
        financial gain, and the costs of letting property should form part of the investment assessment
        undertaken by the owner. The government’s intention, when it abolished the charging of letting fees to
        tenants, was to recognise the inappropriate attribution of costs to the tenant and provide some financial
        relief to potential tenants who were experiencing extreme financial hardship in entering the Western
        Australian rental market.
(c)     The fee charged to landlords for the management of property by agents is a competitive commercial
        process, not dictated by law. Landlords are encouraged to shop around to compare fees and negotiate an
        acceptable fee arrangement.
(d)     Previously under the RTA, real estate agents often charged one week’s rent to the tenant and one or two
        weeks’ rent to the owner as a letting fee for the premises. Following the amendments, however, some
        agents have now taken the commercial decision to pass on to owners the full two weeks’ rental
        equivalent as a fee to let the premises. As referred above, landlords should seek to take their business
        elsewhere or renegotiate fees if they find them unacceptable.
(e)     No, there does not appear to be a “loophole”.
(f)     This is seen to be a contractual matter and the requirement to pay will be determined by the terms of the
                                   INCIDENT ON PUBLIC BUS SERVICE
3156.   Mr D.F. Barron-Sullivan to the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure
I refer to the problem with a public bus service reported on page 8 of the Eastern Reporter of 4 March 2008 and
        (a)      was this matter investigated officially and, if so, who by;
        (b)      what conclusions or findings were made subsequently;
        (c)      what is being done to ensure that bus drivers take all reasonable steps to help passengers with
                 prams to board, including asking passengers occupying priority seating to relocate; and
        (d)      has the woman in question received an apology and, if not, will an apology be forthcoming?
Ms A.J.G. MacTIERNAN replied:
(a)     Yes. The matter was investigated by both Transperth and its service provider Path Transit, which is one
        of Transperth's three contracted bus companies.
(b)     The bus used on the route 21 service in question is licensed to carry 60 passengers, which would
        constitute a full load of seated and standing passengers. Details taken from the ticketing system indicate
        that the bus had 46 paying passengers at the Museum stop, 16 of which boarded at that stop. However,
        the ticketing system passenger count does not take into account the number of Free Transit Zone (FTZ)
                                   [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]                                      2125

         passengers, who are eligible to travel on any Transperth bus for free in the CBD area which extends for
         FTZ purposes to Newcastle Street. The driver stated that he recalled the incident and that the bus was
         nearly full. He says he asked passengers to make room for further intending passengers and to move
         down the bus for the family; however the passengers already on board could only move a few
         centimetres. The driver says he then advised the lady that he did not have room for the pram and rejects
         the assertion that he was rude towards her. At the time the bus already had another pram on board,
         which was occupying one side of the accessible area. Transperth and Path Transit have accepted that the
         driver endeavoured to try and make room for the family, and accept that he is highly unlikely to be rude
         to an elderly lady. The driver in question has an impeccable record with Path Transit and has a number
         of commendations from previous Transperth customers. Another finding was that the article claimed
         that the next service available was forty minutes way; this is incorrect as the next route 21 service was
         due in 24 minutes.
(c)       The driver of the route 21 service in question followed all reasonable means in encouraging passengers
         on board the service to make room for lady and the pram. Transperth has no control over the social
         skills displayed by the members of the public. While, drivers of a bus can utilise certain areas of the
         Public Transport Authority Act and Regulations 2003, there is no part of the Act that gives the driver
         the power to require other passengers to vacate their seat for someone else. In this case and in the
         driver's opinion the bus was at or very near capacity and while the family may have been able to fit onto
         the bus, there was no room for the pram.
(d)      The driver states that he apologised to the lady at the time of the event and the lady has since been
         contacted by Path Transit officers and advised as to why she could not be accommodated on the bus.
         They also apologised for the inconvenience, but as stated in the article, there were many school children
         away from school on this day and this has impacted upon the loadings of normal Transperth services.
N.B. This information was provided by me to the author of the report shortly after the article was published. It is
understood that the author of the report is related to the complainant.
                                 PROSTITUTION AMENDMENT BILL 2007
3178.    Dr J.M. Woollard to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services
I refer to the Minister’s response to Questions on Notice Nos 2862 and 2861 of 2007, and ask:
         (a)      what measures and strategies the West Australian Police Force will use to monitor the impact
                  of the Prostitution Amendment Bill 2007;
         (b)      as the Minister outlined in his response to the abovementioned Questions on Notice that there
                  has been an estimated greater than six times increase in prostitution form 1990/1991 to 2007,
                  what plans does the Government have, if any, to decrease the number of women involved in
                  prostitution; and
         (c)      will the Prostitution Amendment Bill 2007 reduce the number of individuals involved in
                  prostitution in Western Australia:
                  (i)      if yes, how will this be measured; or
                  (ii)     if not, why not?
Mr J.C. KOBELKE replied:
(a)      The Licensing Enforcement Division (LED), Specialist Crime Portfolio, WA Police monitors the
         conduct of and perform policing functions applicable to:
         • Licensed Premises;
         • Pawn Brokers;
         • Firearms Dealers / Licensing;
         • Security Industry Agents and Licensing; and
         • Commercial Agents.
         It is anticipated that the LED will adopt similar practices, where required by the Sexual Services
         Act 2000 and Prostitution Amendment Bill 2007. Examples may include monitoring and where
         necessary, prosecuting offences relative to sexual service businesses:
         • Failing to display Operators Licence;
         • Employment of under age sex workers;
         • Breaches of Licence conditions;
         • Owners / Licensee not present;
         Inspections relating to workers, managers, operators and sex workers; and Suitability reports and
         general reporting functions to the Chief Executive Officer of the Governing Department (Department of
2126                                [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]

        Health and Department of Racing Gaming and Liquor). The Organised Crime Division will investigate
        all incidents and activities relating to organised criminal networks.
        Records of prosecutions, legislative and regulative breaches, observations and attendance histories may
        be available to support reporting to the Minister and in support of the identified review date at 2 years.
(b)-(c) The assertion in the question that the Ministers response to question on notice 2862 that "there has been
        an estimated greater than six times increase in Prostitution from 1990/1991 to 2007" is not true. The
        estimates given related to increases in people working in prostitution were between 1990/91 and 1998.
        These questions should be referred to the Attorney General.
                                 POLICE OFFICERS — LEAVE STATISTICS
3235.   Dr J.M. Woollard to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services
(1)     On 1 December 2007, can the Minister advise how many police officers were absent under the
        following leave types:
        (a)      long service leave;
        (b)      annual leave;
        (c)      weekly leave;
        (d)      sick leave;
        (e)      leave without pay;
        (f)      maternity leave;
        (g)      suspension;
        (h)      light non-operational duties;
        (i)      secondment to other agencies or duties; and
        (j)      any other type of leave?
(2)     On 1 December 2007, what was the number of sworn officers in the Western Australian Police Service,
        minus the officers who were on leave from the above listing?
(3)     On 1 December 2007, what was the number of sworn officers in the Western Australian Police Service,
        minus the officers who were on leave from the above listing for the whole metropolitan area?
(4)     On 1 December 2007, what was the number of sworn officers in the Western Australian Police Service,
        minus the officers who were on leave from the above listing, from the country region?
Mr J.C. KOBELKE replied:
(1)     The number of Police Officers on the following leave types as at 30 November 2007 are outlined
        (a)      Long service leave = 85
        (b)      Annual leave= 405
        (c)      Weekly leave= N/A
        (d)      Sick leave and carers leave= 141
        (e)      Leave without pay= 36
        (f)      Parental leave (paid and unpaid) = 58
        (g)      Suspension (stood down on full pay) = 12
        (h)      Light non-operational duties= 163
        (i)      Secondment to other agencies or duties= 22
        (j)      Any other leave type= 21
        Note: Weekly leave is recorded at a local level only and there is no capacity to report the total number
        of staff on leave for a given day. Weekly leave is managed by the Officer in Charge with a view to
        ensuring that the operational capacity of the workplace is maintained at a suitable level for the week.
(2)     On 30 November 2007, the number of sworn officers minus the officers on leave from the above listing
        was 4,506.
                                  [ASSEMBLY - Wednesday, 9 April 2008]                                     2127

(3)     On 30 November 2007, the number of sworn officers minus the officers on leave from the above listing
        for the whole metropolitan area was 3,311.
(4)     On 30 November 2007, the number of sworn officers minus the officers on leave from the above listing
        from the country region was 1,195.
        Note: The sworn officer numbers are a headcount as at 30 November 2007 and include Senior Police
        (Commissioner to Assistant Commissioner), Police (Superintendent to Recruit) and Aboriginal Police
        Liaison Officers. A headcount is a one day snapshot of the sworn officers staffing profile with part-time
        officers being counted as one (1).
                                   POLICE OFFICERS — PROMOTIONS
3238.   Dr J.M. Woollard to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services
(1)     How many FTE first-class constables were promoted to acting sergeant rank in:
        (a)      2007; and
        (b)      2008 to date?
(2)     Were any junior officers promoted to that rank and, if so, how many and why?
(3)     How many FTE senior constables were promoted to acting sergeant or higher during 2007 or 2008 and
        what were the reasons for those promotions?
Mr J.C. KOBELKE replied:
(1)     (a)      176 First Class Constables acted as Sergeant during 2007.
        (b)      118 First Class Constables acted as Sergeant to 31 March 2008.
(2)     15 Constables acted as Sergeant during 2007 and 6 Constables acted as Sergeant to 31 March 2008.
(3)     1143 Senior Constables acted as Senior Sergeant or Sergeant during 2007 and 709 Senior Constables
        acted as Senior Sergeant or Sergeant to 31 March 2008.
        Acting was undertaken for a number of reasons including where the position was vacant pending the
        arrival of the next substantive officer, or where the usual substantive officer was on leave or acting

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