ACT Bill to Target Criminal Gang Activity

Tuesday 5 November 2019 @ 11.22 a.m. | Judiciary, Legal Profession & Procedure | Legal Research

The Crimes (Disrupting Criminal Gangs) Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 (ACT) (the “Bill”) was introduced to ACT’s Legislative Assembly (the “Assembly”) on 24 October 2019 by the Attorney-General, the Hon Gordon Ramsay. The Bill proposes amendments to the following ACT legislation:

  • Construction Occupations (Licensing) Act 2004;
  • Construction Occupations (Licensing) Regulation 2004;
  • Crimes Act 1900;
  • Crimes (Sentencing) Act 2005; and
  • Liquor Act 2010.

Purpose of the Bill

As outlined in the Bill’s Explanatory Statement (“ES”), the Bill proposes to introduce a range of measures to improve public order and safety in the ACT, including where criminal activity occurs in the context of criminal organisations. Some of the amendments include:

  • amending the penalties for offences of fighting (sections 391 of the Crimes Act 1900) and offensive behaviour (s 392 of the Crimes Act 1900);
  • increasing maximum penalties for specified offences committed in connection with a criminal group or committed by a person associated with a criminal group;
  • introducing an exclusion order scheme to exclude certain people from specified licensed premises through a civil mechanism; and
  • introducing the cancellation of a licence under the Liquor Act 2010 or the Construction Occupations (Licensing) Act 2004 on the basis of a person’s criminal activities.

Overview of the Proposed Amendments

Some of the the proposed amendments include:

  • Construction Occupations (Licensing) Act 2004 - inserting new Part 5A which introduces a cancellation scheme for construction licences due to the criminal activity of the licensee - these provisions create an authorising law under the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2008;
  • Construction Occupations (Licensing) Regulation 2004 - inserting new section 11A “to the effect that if a person’s licence is cancelled by cancellation order made under the Act, the person is not eligible to be licensed for a period of five years after the order was made unless the order is revoked under section 68”;
  • Crimes Act 1900 - amending section 35A(2) and (3), inserting new sections 35AA and 35AB and amending sections 391 and 392;
  • Crimes (Sentencing) Act 2005 - inserting new Part 4.6 “Sentencing—schedule offence with criminal group”; and
  • Liquor Act 2010 - this Act is extensively amended, including insertion of new Division 8.10 “Exclusion orders” and insertion of new Part 11B “Cancellation of licence or permit for criminal activity”.

Attorney-General’s Comment on the Bill

Commenting on the Bill in his Second Reading speech, the Attorney-General said:

“This government is committed to evidence-based measures to target, to disrupt and to prosecute criminal groups in the ACT. The bill that I am introducing today supports this commitment by making amendments that will focus on individual involvement in organised crime … The purpose of the bill is to disrupt the activities of criminal organisations and their members, including by discouraging people from joining or remaining involved in criminal groups … this bill contains a range of measures to target and disrupt organised crime and to ensure public order.”
“The amendments in this bill are not being introduced in isolation. The government has committed significant resources to boost law enforcement’s ability to target organised crime, including $980,000 in 2018 to the ACT Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to boost its ability to seize criminal assets; a further $1.6 million over four years in the 2018-19 budget to Taskforce Nemesis; and $2.8 million over four years for the ACT to address serious and organised crime, including to strip criminals of their criminal profits.”

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Sources:

Crimes (Disrupting Criminal Gangs) Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 (ACT) - Bill and supporting information available from TimeBase LawOne Service 

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