Probing the polls: protecting the police and proliferating public holidays

Genevieve Jacobs 5 June 2020 4
Tathra Beach

As restrictions lift, will you be revelling in the chance for a long weekend at the beach? Photo: Sapphire Coast Tourism.

An interesting dividing line has emerged among readers over new laws that make it an offence to assault a frontline service provider, including nurses and police, ambulance workers, firefighters, corrections officers and emergency services volunteers.

There’s now a specific offence carrying a maximum two-year prison sentence. But this is the same maximum sentence for common assault, the only difference being that a criminal record will now record the specific charge.

The Australian Federal Police Association (AFPA) is disappointed at the outcome and are arguing that the penalty should be at least five years.

“You can damage a police car, an inanimate object, and get five years, but if you assault a human being it is only two years. It seems a little bit imbalanced,” AFP Association president Angela Smith said.

But Police Minister Mick Gentleman says the decision ensures that laws and policies in the ACT do not have a discriminatory, disproportionate or unintended impact on particular groups.

We asked: Should the ACT’s penalties for assaulting police be longer than common assault sentences? 989 readers responded.

You could choose to vote No, everyone deserves equal protection against assault. This received 37 per cent of the total, or 370 votes. Alternatively, you could vote Yes, they face significantly higher risks keeping us all safe. This received 63 per cent of the total, or 619 votes.

This week, as we mark another holiday long weekend (the second this month), we’re asking whether too many public holidays are ever enough.

The ACT marks 13 public holidays including Canberra Day and Reconciliation Day – the only jurisdiction in Australia to do so. That’s in addition to the Queen’s Birthday long weekend, the October long weekend, Christmas and Easter.

This year we were one of the few jurisdictions to allocate a public holiday when Anzac Day fell on a weekend. Only Victoria takes as many breaks from work as Canberrans do. If you’re inclined to enjoy them, the one matter for regret might be that they almost all fall in the first half of the year (apart from October), so we’re in for a long stretch until Christmas.

So is it all too much? Or has COVID-19 taught us that time away from work can be personally useful but also productive?

Our poll this week asks you:

Does the ACT have too many public holidays?

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4 Responses to Probing the polls: protecting the police and proliferating public holidays
Nick Timmer Nick Timmer 7:38 am 09 Jun 20

Why don’t just zip it and be happy we have any at all

Juanita Dawson Juanita Dawson 7:16 am 09 Jun 20

Let’s spread them out

Josie Conlan Josie Conlan 6:55 am 09 Jun 20

Yes too many

Robyn Holder Robyn Holder 10:17 pm 08 Jun 20

Well let's lose the "queens birthday".

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