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.
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
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.