This speech was delivered on 25/3/2014 in the NSW Upper House. You can read the full debate online here.
Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. What steps has the Minister taken to ensure that police are not misusing their new consorting powers, given the findings in a recent Ombudsman’s report that 40 per cent of people who received a non-consorting warning or direction from police under the new laws were Aboriginal and that this proportion rose to two-thirds for juveniles, noting that only 2.5 per cent of the population identify as Aboriginal?
The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: We all continue to monitor the consorting laws. The Ombudsman has made his views known in relation to—
Mr David Shoebridge: It is a discussion paper.
The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: Yes, he has put it out for discussion and we are discussing it now; that is how effective it is. Members can be assured that we continue to ensure that these laws are working effectively and will keep an eye open for any possibilities or suggestions that they are not working effectively. As the member would know, there is currently a legal challenge going through the courts in relation to those and, equally, we are keeping a close eye on that. In order to reduce any delay the Attorney General sought to have the matter moved to the High Court. The High Court has approved fast tracking of the appeal and it is likely to be listed for hearing in May. So we will await that decision.
Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE: I ask a supplementary question. The Minister has assured the House that further steps are being taken in relation to the new laws. Will the Minister elucidate his answer and tell the House what he has done to ensure that the laws are not being abused against Aboriginal citizens in this State?
The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: Despite claims by the member that Aboriginal citizens are being abused by police, which I again find offensive on behalf of the hardworking cops in our communities—
Mr David Shoebridge: It was not my statement and you know it.
The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: The member has a particular view that these laws are being abused. Apart from the matters in the discussion paper, I continue to speak to police at a senior level as well as to operational police in relation to adherence. At this stage I am satisfied that the intent of the legislation is being maintained by police.