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Statutes Amendment (Explosives) Bill

Adjourned debate on second reading.

(Continued from 19 October 2017.)

The Hon. A.L. McLACHLAN (12:48): I rise to speak to the Statutes Amendment (Explosives) Bill. I speak on behalf of the Liberal Party and indicate that we are supporting the second reading. The bill seeks to amend the Criminal Law Consolidation Act and the Summary Offences Act to provide tougher penalty provisions for homemade bomb makers. The government has advised that the current legislative means of controlling explosives largely deal with commercial and maritime misuse, or manufacture of explosives. The bill creates new criminal offences relating to explosives with severe penalties imposed. The new offences proposed by the bill include:

the unlawful use of an explosive device, carrying a maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment;

possession of an explosive device in a public place without lawful excuse, carrying a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment;

possession or taking steps in the process of manufacturing an explosive device without lawful excuse, carrying a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment; and

possession or supply of an explosive substance, prescribed equipment or instructions on how to make an explosive device in suspicious circumstances and without lawful excuse. These carry a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment.

The bill also creates a bomb hoax offence, which carries a maximum penalty of imprisonment for five years. The government has provided some advice on the existence of similar offence provisions interstate in Western Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania.

The bill also seeks to amend the Summary Procedure Act to provide police with additional search and seizure powers during the investigation of explosive offences. These new powers are proposed to be added to the Summary Offences Act. When introducing the bill, the government stated that these powers will ensure that the police have the tools to effectively detect and investigate activity connected with domestic manufacture, possession or use of improvised explosive devices, as well as the related precursors, instructions—

Members interjecting:

The ACTING PRESIDENT (Hon. J.S.L. Dawkins): Order! The level of conversation is making it difficult for me to hear the honourable member. The Hon. Mr McLachlan has the call.

The Hon. A.L. McLACHLAN: Thank you for your protection, Mr Acting President—as well as the related precursors, instructions and apparatus. It was also stated that these changes will make it clear to the community that such activity can only be for a lawful purpose.

If passed, the new powers will enable police officers to enter and search a premises at any time, for the purposes of ascertaining whether an explosives offence is being or has been committed. The proposed changes would also enable police officers to break into or open any part of the premises or items inside the premises, and to require the drivers of vehicles to stop to enable the search to be conducted.

The provisions will also enable police to seize property that may be intended for use in an offence, or may constitute evidence of an offence. The bill sets out procedures to be followed with regard to the destruction of any seized property to ensure that the safety of police officers attending a potential explosives offence is not jeopardised. These new police powers are the more controversial aspects of the bill.

I indicate to the chamber that I seek answers from the government in relation to the search powers, in particular why the government deems them necessary, having regard to other search and seizure powers that are currently available to the South Australia Police, and which include a general search warrant. I ask that they be provided at the second reading summing-up. In other words, why is it necessary in this bill to have specific search and seizure powers in relation to explosives, as opposed to being able to rely on existing powers that currently support police work in the field?

In relation to these powers, the Liberal Party has filed some amendments. At the moment they do not seek to obstruct these powers or curtail them, but the Liberal draft amendments effectively provide that the Attorney-General will take a review of the amendments proposed to the bill after three years, and police are to include in their annual report: the number of occasions on which the new search powers were exercised; the number of occasions on which property was seized as a result of the exercise of the search powers and the nature of the property seized; whether anyone was charged with explosive offences in connection with those search powers; and, any other information requested by the minister, including, of course, current ancillary provisions regarding the tabling of a report of the review.

I look forward to a response to my query in relation to why the additional search powers are required, having regard to existing laws. As I indicated, the Liberal Party will support the second reading.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. J.E. Hanson.

See full session on Hansard