Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (17:40): I rise to speak to the Criminal Procedure (Monitoring Orders) Amendment Bill 2022. I note that the Hon. Kyam Maher introduced the Criminal Procedure (Monitoring Orders) Amendment Bill in the other place on 3 November 2022. The bill would amend the Criminal Procedure Act 1921. The operation of the bill is that it would insert in the act a new part 4 division 8—Bushfire offender monitoring orders, which would provide for a police officer to apply to the Magistrates Court for an order for a bushfire offender to wear an electronic monitoring device during each fire danger season.
The information we have had is that the government asserts that the bill would give effect to an election commitment to require firebugs convicted under section 85B of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 to be electronically monitored during the bushfire season. Division 8 outlines how the court must assess such an application, including the ability to suspend or revoke that order.
In his second reading explanation, the Hon. Kyam Maher asserted that the bill is modelled on existing provisions for paedophile restraining orders under the Criminal Procedure Act 1921. The provisions are similar in relation to the mechanisms by which police can apply to the court for a restraining or monitoring order. However, the introduction of a monitoring device is a rare event in circumstances outside of parole or circumstances of an extended supervision order.
An electronic monitoring device means an electronic device of a class or kind approved by the minister under section 4 of the Correctional Services Act 1982. As a matter of principle, an order pursuant to the bill should not be punitive in nature but, rather, a risk management measure. However, the language used to refer to the offender remains the defendant and the government indicates that it adopts this language to be consistent with the provisions applicable to monitoring of a person convicted of a paedophilia offence under the Criminal Procedure Act 1921.
I note there are other CFS members in this place. As a CFS member and as a private individual with my private unit, I have fought many fires—too many. It has become apparent over time that some people, for whatever reason, get a kick out of being arsonists and it is disgraceful behaviour. We have had recent cases over the years where people were finally tracked down after multiple events of lighting fires over time and, sadly, sometimes these are the very people who volunteer to put out these fires—not all the time, of course. But sometimes we find out that these are volunteers in their own right who, for whatever reason, get a kick out of starting fires.
Obviously in any area a fire is a dangerous thing, but in the more built-up areas close to the city and in the Hills, as has been described by the member for Davenport, we have populations living in built-up areas where there are areas that are hard to access. In areas like Blackwood, for example, in a big event, like an Ash Wednesday event, some people say there could be the potential to lose up to 300 lives.
I hope it never happens, but as good as all the services are, whether it is the Metropolitan Fire Service or the Country Fire Service, and with the planes and now the helicopters we have on board—and we have fantastic assets that can be utilised—if you get the right day, or I suppose I should say the wrong day, with high winds and temperatures well into the 40s, literally all hell breaks loose. There is enough trouble in managing fires without having idiots running around lighting these fires.
As I said, bushfires are a major risk to the community and a major risk to assets. In recent years, we have seen major fires right across the state, whether they have been at Cudlee Creek in the Hills, which burnt down through Harrogate in my electorate, or whether it was the Pinery fire, a massive fire that came down through the Mid North. It almost got to Gawler before it was pulled up, because it was burning through such heavy crops on the way through. We lost massive amounts of property, and sadly there were some lives lost and injuries as well.
We had Wangary on the West Coast years ago, a terrible fire with lives lost there, and fires down through the South-East, whether they were at Kingston or Keilira or Carcuma (one I was involved in a couple of years ago) or Yumali-Netherton a couple of years ago, just down from home. They happen all over the place. As I said, we certainly do not need idiots running around making matters worse for our 13,000-plus CFS volunteers and our MFS retained firefighters and full-time firefighters.
We saw the carnage that happened on Kangaroo Island. As I have said in this place before, I note the work that both the MFS and the CFS performed working side by side. It was excellent to see that synchronicity between the services to get the job done and protect what could be protected in very, very dire circumstances.
As has been mentioned, the police have various powers at the moment under Operation Mandrake. I have seen them in the Hills, when we get the hot summer days. You will see the police cars just parked there. They are usually on winding roads, so they are probably not there looking for speeding; they looking for potential firebugs. It is good work, but it does tie up resources.
With these events, we need all the resources we can throw at them, especially when we see the huge catastrophe of many hundreds of thousands of hectares burnt down on Kangaroo Island and so much property, so many thousands and thousands of hectares burnt around Cudlee Creek, which put so many properties at risk. I am still amazed that there was not more loss of life and more injury in some of these instances.
It is courageous work from all our firefighters, not forgetting the people with their farm fire units, who play a vital role in helping fight fires. Everyone works together. Certainly, flying crews like Aerotech, and now we have the Black Hawk helicopters as well (we used to have Elvis, but that seems to be yesterday's technology now) can come in to get to those tight situations. At times, we have also had the big aeroplane come in—it is very expensive, evidently—to assist in operations.
At the end of the day, you cannot put out a bushfire without the people on the ground working alongside all the other resources. They are the vital cogs that make it work to save property and lives. Legislation like this will assist the community and especially push back on the very worst cases of arsonists who have been convicted. They are the ones who could end up with an ankle bracelet, and obviously they will be able to be monitored electronically so that the police can track where they are. I commend the legislation, and I wish all our services, no matter what part they play in bushfire management and prevention, all the best. I hope you have a very, very quiet Christmas and new year.
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