Published: 19 August 2015

Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, even if I did propose an amendment, I think it would not be supported except perhaps by a couple of members.  I am concerned about the haste in which this bill has been presented to us.  I accept that the Leader indicated there were some bills coming, but not having access to the bill to scrutinise the details in the bill makes it very difficult.


This is an issue brought forward by the President of the Guardianship and Administration Board.  We dealt with a very similar bill last year in terms of similar procedures for children, and much of the detail in this bill is very similar.  Because I have quite an interest in this area, this is one bill which I made an effort to have a good look at beforehand.  I am still concerned we are rushing in this and not having the time to adequately scrutinise the detail of the bill to ensure that vulnerable people, and the people who are responsible for them, are not disadvantaged in some way.  In the briefing members raised some concerns about how that might work in practice.  The questions were addressed by the staff, and I thank them for their time to brief us on this.  They are the same procedures pretty much, with a child undergoing the procedures.

I appreciate the need to have these provisions for persons with cognitive disabilities who are often very vulnerable to certain crimes.  Unfortunately, they are often in a position where they find it very hard to cope with crimes when they are perpetrated against them.

We  rely on the people who are responsible for them and care for them to often provide consent for procedures, but then when facing a situation as was mentioned in the briefing, if that person as their responsible person could also be the perpetrator, it can become quite difficult.

There is also the question of the best interest of that person and that is mentioned in the bill as it is with the children, when we are dealing with under-age victims.  It is always a balance of finding where the interest is at a particular point in time.  Is the best interest of that person avoiding further distress and anxiety and trauma, or is it in the best interest of that person that the perpetrator is brought to justice and potentially locked away so they cannot do it again?  It is a difficult position that people involved in this area find themselves in.

I am reluctant to push forward with this.  I accept that I am not going to propose an adjournment as I do not believe I have the support of the members in that.  It was clearly demonstrated in the last debate.  I am really concerned that we are rushing this without adequate time to discuss it with those key stakeholders who work in this very difficult area.

It is, thankfully, not a common occurrence, not an area that will be used frequently, and hope that remains the case, but when it is, we need to be sure it is right and that is my concern.  I feel reasonably confident that it is right.  I do not want to vote against this because it is necessary, but I would support any other member who wanted to seek more time to look at this further to ensure we are doing the right thing and getting the process right, not just hoping for the best.

As it is very similar to previous legislation we dealt with last year, just dealing with a different group of people, I will not vote against it.


[5.07 p.m.]

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