Crimes Amendment (Sexual Offences) Bill

Echo 29 May 2003

Crimes Amendment (Sexual Offences) Bill

One of the items which last week dominated Parliament was Labor's legislation Crimes Amendment (Sexual Offences) Bill to lower the age of consent for gay men from 18 years of age to 16. While disappointedly the provisions to lower the age of consent passed through the Lower House of the Parliament, of which I had no hesitation or worry in voting against, I was glad that the Government adopted the amendment to the Bill removing the retrospectivity clause. As it was, the Bill would have allowed men who had engaged in under-age gay sex to gain immunity from prosecution. In other words, it would have allowed people who previously had broken the law to be let off scot-free. It offered a get-out-of-jail-free card. In the end the Government adopted the Nationals' amendment and removed this worrying clause from the Bill.

Medical Trial of Marijuana

Last week, in answer to Bob Carr's announcement, the Nationals gave in-principle support to a four-year trial for the medical use of cannabis, provided that it related only to marijuana-derived medication and that supply and prescription was tightly regulated. As long as these conditions were met, the Nationals' would support a trial for palliative care patients and those with certain other conditions. At this point, insufficient detail has been provided to address concerns about the uncontrolled supply of marijuana, the form in which the government intends to allow the marijuana to be consumed and the proven harmful and negative effects of the drug. We certainly do not want to see the situation, as previously outlined by the Premier, whereby sufferers and/or carers would be able to grow marijuana plants in their backyards. Once the Bill becomes available, the National Party will be studying it carefully to ensure these conditions are met.

Schools Captains visit

Tomorrow I will meet and host a morning tea for the Schools Captains from Kadina High and Lismore High who will be visiting Parliament House on a School Leaders Visit. This visit is part of a leadership program organised in conjunction with the Office of the Governor of NSW, the Department of Education and Non Government schools each year. I look forward to meeting with these fine young leaders of our schools, who will attend a full day of activities that consist of a tour of the Parliament Chambers and Theatrette, followed by a visit to Government House to meet Her Excellency, the Governor.

Electorate Functions

Official Opening and Miss Casino Beef Week - I had the pleasure of attending and participating in the official opening and crowning of Miss Casino Beef Week on Friday night. Congratulations to Stacey Clark who will now be the ambassador for Beef Week for the next 12 months. This function commenced a full week of nationwide renowned activities in Casino. This promotion is now the envy of many towns and districts throughout Australia and the region can be very proud and look forward to enjoying the benefits of its success. I certainly encourage everyone to take part in the festivities, in particular to enjoy the judging and entertainment of Saturday's events in the main street.

CMCA Rally - On Saturday I was delighted to have breakfast with the hundreds of travellers in Casino for this rally. It has been a magnificent display and wonderfully organised event, which will not only benefit Casino, but the whole electorate.

Pedestrian Safety

In a Private Members Statement last week, I had the opportunity of highlighting and expressing my concern in relation to the problem of bicycles skateboards and scooters being ridden on footpaths in the Lismore Electorate. As a member of the Local Traffic Committees that meet with Lismore, Casino and Kyogle Councils and as a member of the Police Accountability Community Team (PACT), this issue has been raised a number of times at these meetings. The concern directed to the Minister for Local Government is that people are powerless to take action against the riders. This activity has escalated in recent times and has become a hazard to public safety. An amendment to the Local Government Act in March 2001 has prevented local councils from erecting signage to prohibit such activity. Conflict exists with this Act and the Australian Road Rules giving uncertain and unclear guidelines to address and restrict this problem. I have urged the Minister to examine Section 632 (2A) (b) of the Act and take decisive action to give police and councils the power to control this situation that exists not only in my electorate but other areas of regional and rural NSW.

Lismore Contact Details:

Office: 55 Carrington Street  LISMORE
Postal: PO Box 52  LISMORE  NSW  2480
Telephone: 02 6621 3624
Facsimile: 02 6622 1403
Email: lismore@parliament.nsw.gov.au

Murwillumbah Contact Details:

Telephone: 02 6672 7577