After a year of consultation with experts, stakeholders and front-line workers today Abigail introduced her Greens Bill to criminalise coercive control and controlling behaviour. For the second read of the Bill she was joined by the CEO of Women's Safety NSW and the General Manager of the Illawarra Women's Health Centre, Hayley Foster and Sally Stevenson.
*Please note that the speech below comes with a trigger warning for domestic violence and abuse, sexual assault and murder*
Ms ABIGAIL BOYD (11:25:56): I move:
That this bill be now read a second time.
On 5 July 2018 Olga Edwards' estranged husband murdered their two children, Jack, 15, and Jennifer, 13, in a West Pennant Hills home where Olga, Jack and Jennifer had moved to escape the violent control of Olga's husband. He shot the children in their home, using 14 rounds of ammunition. Olga took her own life five months later. The Edwards' murderer had a history of domestic violence and psychological and physical assaults against the women and children in his life for over 20 years, with multiple stalking and violence allegations and apprehended violence orders [AVOs] made against him by multiple partners and by one of his adult children.
Police described him as having a history of exerting control over the women in his life and his children, engaging in stalking and menacing behaviour. Olga said that he would insist that only he cut her hair, for example, and he would regularly abuse her and her children, keeping them in a state of fear. Despite all of this, he was successful in convincing the police and justice systems that it was Olga who was being uncooperative and threatening and that she was making things up to stop him seeing his children.
On 3 March 2019 Preethi Reddy was stabbed numerous times by her ex-boyfriend in a hotel room in Sydney. Her body was stuffed in a suitcase and left in her car. At the time of her murder, Preethi—who had previously ended the long-term relationship with the man who murdered her—was in a new relationship. It is believed that her murderer, who Preethi's family and friends have described as possessive and showing controlling behaviour, could not accept that Preethi had moved on.
On 19 February of this year Hannah Clarke and her children were murdered in Brisbane by Hannah's estranged husband. He doused them with petrol and set them alight. As Hannah's brother, Nathaniel Clarke, later told the ABC, the murder of Hannah and her three children, aged three, four and six, was not quick; it was planned and it was executed to make them suffer. Hannah's family recall how, looking back, there were small things that indicated that things were wrong in their relationship. They tell of a relationship increasingly marked by her husband's controlling behaviour, one in which Hannah was forced to have sex with him every night and in which her conversations were being tracked. Things escalated when he kidnapped one of their children at the end of last year and Hannah obtained a domestic violence order [DVO] to protect herself. He was then charged with breaching that DVO, to assault Hannah just weeks before he murdered her.
These stories will be rightfully horrifying for members of this place to hear—lives of women and their children taken suddenly, brutally, viciously; families forever altered by the incalculable loss; lives cut short not by chance or accident but by design. Members should be horrified by the fact that the stories of these three women and their families are just three relatively high-profile domestic homicides in recent years out of hundreds and hundreds on record. Members should be horrified by the fact that currently in Australia nearly one woman a week is killed by a current or former partner. Members should be horrified that despite the ongoing scourge of violence and murder of women in this country, the institutions that those of us in this place occupy—the same institutions that are elected to serve our community—continue to drag their heels and put their head in their sand as woman after woman, child after child, are murdered in cold blood by controlling, abusive and violent men.
In each of these three cases the murderers—who I have chosen not to name—killed themselves afterwards. In each of these cases, these murderers engaged in a relatively predictable pattern of controlling, coercive behaviour that ended in murder. In each of these cases, the law failed to protect these women and children. This bill, the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Amendment (Coercive and Controlling Behaviour) Bill 2020, seeks to change the law to recognise coercive control as domestic abuse. By criminalising coercive control, we will have a fighting chance of preventing more murders like these.
When people think of domestic abuse, they tend to think of physical violence, but domestic abuse is often much more complex than that. Many victims of domestic abuse live in a constant of fear, in relationships marked by dangerous patterns of controlling behaviour. This abuse is called coercive control. Women's Safety NSW, in its position paper on criminalising coercive control dated 11 September 2020, described coercive control as follows:
Coercive control describes the use by one person of controlling and manipulative behaviours such as isolation, emotional manipulation, surveillance, psychological abuse and financial restriction against another person over a period of time for the purpose of establishing and maintaining control. In relationships characterised by coercive control, abusers use tactics of fear and intimidation to exert power over their victim, undermining their independence and self-worth. While domestic and family violence has often been conceived of as an incident-based and primarily involving physical violence, coercive control can be just as detrimental, if not more so, to victims-survivors. Coercive control is a foundational element of domestic violence, and also a major predictor of severe physical violence and homicide.
Coercive control is much broader than our existing New South Wales criminal offences of stalking and intimidation. Perpetrators of coercive control—also aptly named intimate terrorism—seek to control their victims with actual or threatened harm through a course of behaviour. Whether it is demanding that partners cut contact with their friends or family, restricting their access to money, monitoring their calls and messages or directing their day-to-day activities, these patterns of controlling behaviour are perpetrated to control another person, to remove their liberty and agency, with the intent or regardless of, the harm that it causes to that person. Currently coercive control is not a separate offence or integrated into existing domestic violence offences in any State or Territory of Australia. However, if the bill passes, we will not be the first jurisdiction in the world to recognise and criminalise coercive control as domestic abuse.
The United Kingdom introduced a separate offence of coercive control in 2015 and Ireland and Scotland both introduced coercive control legislation in 2018. The Scottish Act is widely regarded by the domestic and family violence sector and by academics as the gold standard for coercive control legislation. Accordingly, it was the starting point for many provisions of the bill. My team and I have spent over 12 months working on the bill. The bill before us is the culmination of months of discussions with leading academics and researchers, with exhausted, but resilient, frontline workers, with outspoken and strident voices in the domestic and family violence sector. It is a result of numerous revisions, of countless meetings and of a deeply held belief from all who have collectively participated in its creation that we must criminalise coercive control.
I have the privilege of having two of those many individuals who have helped shape the bill here today in the Chamber—Hayley Foster, the CEO of Women's Safety NSW, and Sally Stevenson, the general manager of Illawarra Women's Health Centre. Thank you so much for the work that you do, for your contributions to the bill, to the broader campaign and for all of the time and energy you have given my team and I. I am so grateful to have you here with us today. There are countless more who have given so much of themselves in this process. I give special thanks to the contributions from Delia Donovan and Renata Field at Domestic Violence NSW, Liz Snell at Women's Legal Service NSW, Hannah Robinson and Pat O'Callaghan at the Western NSW Community Legal Centre, Gayatri Nai and Laura Bianchi at Redfern Legal Centre, Kristina Vesk of the Cat Protection Society of NSW, Mardi Wilson at Griffith University and Paul McGorrery at Deakin University.
I now turn to the specific provisions of the bill. The Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Amendment (Coercive and Controlling Behaviour Bill) establishes a new offence of abusive control and provides for certain procedural and other protections in relation to that offence. The bill is largely modelled on the equivalent provisions introduced in Scotland in 2018. New section 14A sets out the new offence of abusive control, punishable with 10 years prison, or two years if dealt with summarily and/or 50 penalty units. These penalties are designed to reflect the severity of coercive control, recognising on the one hand the lifelong impact that coercive control can have on victims-survivors—which is often as harmful and debilitating as physical violence offences—while on the other hand, also ensuring access to justice through the local courts and acknowledging that high penalties can reduce the rates at which the offence will be prosecuted.
To establish the offence of abusive control, evidence of a course of behaviour will be required. A "course of behaviour" refers to behaviour occurring on two or more occasions. New section 14A (9) clarifies that "behaviour" includes—but is not limited to—saying or otherwise communicating something, as well as doing something, omitting to do something or asking or otherwise causing a person to do something. New section 14A (5) provides that the offence can be committed by a course of behaviour engaged wholly or partly in New South Wales or by or against a person ordinarily resident in New South Wales. Although the bill will not have retroactive effect, new section 14A (8) of the bill will allow instances of behaviour occurring prior to implementation of the bill's provisions to be considered within a course of behaviour where at least one instance of that behaviour occurs after implementation. This approach is supported by Women's Safety NSW, which states in its criminalising coercive control position paper:
Allowing retroactive application of the legislation in this way only would be a just approach, as it enables current offenders whose course of conduct has spanned long periods to be detected, without criminalising conduct that has occurred in the past but has since ceased.
For a course of behaviour to qualify for the offence of abusive control, it must be violent, menacing or intimidating. Violent behaviour can be physical, emotional or psychological. New section 14A (11) makes it clear that sexual violence is violent behaviour of the kind covered by this offence. There is a dangerous idea, still held by some in our society, that it is not possible to be sexually violent within a domestic relationship. This is wrong and that is why the bill is explicit on this point. For instance, coercing a person to engage in sexual activity or forcing sexual activity on a person against their will or without their consent is violent behaviour for the purposes of the bill. In respect of behaviour that is intimidating, "intimidation" is defined in section 7 of the Act. In respect of behaviour that is menacing, the definition of "menace" in section 249M of the Crimes Act 1900 provides guidance, paragraph (2) of which reads:
(2)A threat against an individual does not constitute a menace unless—
(a)the threat would cause an individual of normal stability and courage to act unwillingly in response to the threat, or
(b)the threat would cause the particular individual to act unwillingly in response to the threat and the person who makes the threat is aware of the vulnerability of the particular individual to the threat.
Note that "menacing" has been used here instead of "threatening" to make clear the serious nature of the threatening behaviour covered by the provision and thereby limiting the possibility of the section being sought to be used by perpetrators against victims-survivors. Specifically, "menacing" for the purposes of the bill, should not capture conduct on the part of a parent acting protectively where they have genuine concerns for the safety of a child or vulnerable person. For a course of behaviour which is violent, menacing or intimidating to constitute an offence of abusive control, it must have or be reasonably likely to have, one of the following effects: (a) making a person dependent on, or subordinate to them; (b) isolating a person from friends, family or other sources of support; (c) controlling, regulating or monitoring a person's day-to-day activities; (d) depriving a person of, or restricting a person's, freedom of action; or (e) frightening, humiliating, degrading or punishing a person. Many behaviours will have or will be likely to have, more than one of these harmful effects on victims-survivors, but for the purposes of the offence only one needs to be established.
New section 14A (4) makes it clear that financial control may constitute abusive control. Although arguably covered under the five effects noted explicitly in the bill, the specific reference to financial abuse is included for the avoidance of doubt, as well as to send a clear signal to the community, that using violent, menacing or intimidating behaviour to exert control over another person's finances—such as preventing a person accessing their bank account or coercing them to enter into financial agreements—is behaviour of the kind considered within the offence of abusive control under the bill. New section 14A (3) clarifies that behaviour may or may be reasonably likely to have that effect on a target, even if the conduct is directed at a third person or a companion animal or other domesticated animal or the property of the target.
In line with recent amendments to the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act, this provision recognises that a course of abusive behaviour can and often does involve behaviour in relation to third parties and animals. Animals are commonly targeted by perpetrators as part of a course of behaviour designed to control their victim‑survivor. Often this is in the form of threats to do the animal harm or to take the animal away. Just recently, we heard the story of a man from Concord who violently kicked his dog, Eiffel, to cause his ex‑partner psychological distress. Animals are also often used in more subtle ways by perpetrators of coercive control, for example, in the course of gaslighting, with perpetrators opening doors and windows for animals to escape and then blaming victim‑survivors for leaving them open.
Note that the reference here to "other domesticated animal" rather than just "companion animal" as defined in the Companion Animals Act 1998 makes it clear that an animal other than a cat or dog, such as a horse or a mouse, can be targeted by perpetrators in the course of domestic abuse. Under this provision, the animal in question also does not need to be owned by the victim‑survivor or be ordinarily resident in the home. We know that perpetrators can use threats of harm against a neighbour's dog, for example, or threaten to poison neighbourhood birds as a means of exercising control over victim‑survivors. Also common is for perpetrators to use threats of violence on the family and friends of the victim‑survivor or to destroy cherished items. While no specific mention is made of electronic evidence, note that recordings, photos, texts, social media posts and the like may be used as evidence to establish this offence. Further, a single source of evidence may be used to prove the offence.
For the course of behaviour to fall within the offence, the perpetrator must intend to cause or be reckless as to whether the course of behaviour causes the victim‑survivor to suffer physical, emotional or psychological harm, including fear, alarm or distress. Further, it will need to be established that a reasonable person would consider the course of behaviour to be likely to cause that harm. In line with the Scottish legislation, an objective standard of proof—the "reasonable person" test—has been included to assess whether the offender intended to cause harm or was reckless as to whether their behaviour was likely to cause harm. By referring to intent rather than knowledge, as is used in the UK legislation, a subjective element is retained in the test. By focusing on intent to harm, the bill recognises that at the core of coercive control is the desire of the perpetrator to instil fear and exert power over their target. The explicit reference in the bill to emotional or psychological harm, including fear, alarm or distress, reflects the fact that domestic violence relationships are characterised by fear and that often physical violence is not the most harmful aspect of a perpetrator's course of behaviour.
Unlike the Scottish legislation, which refers only to psychological harm, the addition of the word "emotional" in this bill is used to avoid a restrictive interpretation of "psychological" and to make it clear that the harm does not need to cause or contribute to a recognisable psychological disorder or behaviour that is out of the bounds of what is considered usual. Rather, fear, alarm or distress could be considered as predominantly emotional harm, whereas the well‑documented trauma resulting from coercive control behaviours may more appropriately be considered as psychological—whether or not a recognised psychological disorder. Note that there is no requirement to prove that the behaviour has actually inflicted harm. This is in contrast to the UK legislation, which focuses not on the intent of the perpetrator but on the impact of the behaviour on the victim‑survivor. The UK approach would require an examination of the victim‑survivor's response to domestic violence—they are required to prove in court that they suffered fear or distress—instead of focusing on the inherently harmful nature of the perpetrator's behaviour.
Besides the dangerous message that such an approach can send—that domestic violence depends upon how a victim‑survivor responds to behaviour and not on the actions of the perpetrator—it also makes the offence far too hard to detect and prosecute, which may account for the relatively low number of offences charged under the UK coercive control provisions. Victim‑survivors should not have to feel fearful in order to seek the protection of our justice system. They should not be required to react to their experience of domestic abuse in a way that others think demonstrates that they feel fear, alarm or distress according to some preconceived idea of how victims should behave. The emphasis should rightly be on the conduct of the offender and identifying their abusive behaviours. Finally, including this objective standard of proof in the bill will protect victim‑survivors from being misidentified as an aggressor in domestic violence matters. As Women's Safety NSW notes in its position paper:
Opponents of criminalising coercive control have voiced concerns that an expanded definition of domestic violence may have the unintended consequence of drawing more women into the criminal justice system as alleged perpetrators of coercive control. There is some concern that true perpetrators of domestic abuse may take advantage of sexist stereotypes about women being deceitful or emotionally manipulative, and misconstrue their partners as being coercive and controlling when withholding parental visitation due to valid safety concerns. It is argued that this would result in women being wrongfully prosecuted as offenders under coercive control legislation. However, the incorporation of an objective 'reasonable person' test when assessing the impact of an alleged offender's actions, would effectively mitigate the risk of this occurring, as this kind of behaviour would not be assessed as likely to cause genuine harm or fear. In this way, an objective standard of proof acts as a safeguard against offenders who may attempt to manipulate this legislation to falsely implicate their victim.
It is no surprise then that, as Women's Safety NSW has reported, the objective test contained in the bill and modelled on the Scottish legislation, which focuses on behaviour that a reasonable person would think likely to be harmful, is preferred by 80 per cent of the frontline domestic violence specialists it surveyed, along with 65 per cent of members of the public and 63 per cent of victim‑survivors. I note that the UK legislation provides a defence—but not in the case of causing the target to fear that violence will be used against them—if the accused shows that they believed they were acting in the target's best interests or that the behaviour was in all the circumstances reasonable; however, this defence is provided in the context of a very different set of offence provisions. In light of the offence in section 14A of this bill including an objective test, which the UK legislation does not have, it is not felt necessary for this bill to include any such defence provision.
I note that the coercive control bill put forward in the other place, as well as the Scottish legislation, provide for the offence to be considered as "aggravated" if a child is witness to an incident of abusive conduct; however, in the context of domestic abuse that may encompass a variety of different forms of violence in which children themselves are likely also to be victim‑survivors of coercive control. Given the ability of a judge or magistrate to take into account the involvement of and effect on children in sentencing, there appears to be limited utility in a provision which signals that perhaps a more overt form of coercive control is more serious than other forms. For this reason, the bill does not include a provision requiring tougher penalties where a child is witness to the course of behaviour. I will now mention just a few other notable provisions of the bill before detailing the other reforms required for this bill to achieve its policy objectives. Section 14A (6) and (7) provide for a rebuttable presumption that the accused person and the target are or have been in a domestic relationship.
Put simply, behaviour that has met all elements of the offence should result in a finding of an offence of abusive control and should not be excused on the basis of a technicality arising from the definition of "domestic relationship" under section 5 of the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act, which in any event is currently drafted extremely broadly and would be highly unlikely to provide any wriggle room for an offender under these new provisions. Accordingly, the complainant and the court's time should not be wasted arguing over whether or not a domestic relationship exists for the purposes of proving this offence. The broad definition of "domestic relationship" and the presumption provided in section 14A (6) of the bill may result in some overlap in relation to a particular instance of behaviour that would otherwise fall within the stalking or intimidation offence set out in section 13 of the Act; however, in circumstances where there is evidence of a course of behaviour where the elements of the new abusive control offence are likely to be met, prosecution for that behaviour should be brought under new section 14A of the Act and not section 13. That said, a prosecution can be made under section 13 of the Act as well as under section 14A of the Act if applicable.
Section 14B provides for a review of the new provisions introduced by the bill to occur three years after implementation to ensure that they are achieving their policy objectives. Annual data collection by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research will be required to facilitate this review, which will need to be properly resourced. The bill also amends section 40 (5) of the Act to require an interim apprehended violence order to be made against the accused person for the protection of the target. Section 2.1 inserts a new section 25AB into the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act that requires the court to have regard, when sentencing an offender, to the trauma of abusive control as well as the risk of the victim being subjected to further abusive control offences by the offender. Section 2.2 makes a number of amendments to the Criminal Procedure Act 1986 to treat the abusive control offence in the same way as a prescribed sexual offence for certain procedural purposes.
There are no quick fixes here. This bill is just the beginning of a lengthy process of cultural change in the community, the Parliament and the legal system and judiciary. There are concerns about the criminalisation of coercive control. Many of these concerns can be addressed by the process that should follow the introduction of this bill. Like the bill itself, we can be guided by what has occurred overseas, particularly in Scotland. Part of the reason the Scottish Act has been successful is due to the awareness campaign that was launched with the bill. The Scottish campaign sought to increase the public's understanding of domestic abuse, the wide range of behaviour that can constitute coercive control and domestic abuse, and to encourage victims to seek help. The Joint Select Committee on Coercive Control, which was recently established by the Attorney General, will help raise awareness and bring stakeholders together to outline their needs and concerns. Media campaigns like that currently run by Are Media are also helping to raise awareness and so are families like the Reddys and the Clarkes through the telling of their stories, despite the pain that causes. I want to acknowledge their courage here.
We need to keep this momentum going, using the unique capacity that we have in this place to then also inquire into the specific provisions of the bill. This will continue to keep the focus on coercive control and allow everyone to come together to design the best possible version of a coercive control bill while also hearing what we will need to make it an effective piece of legislation. This legislation needs the time and space for peaceful and constructive discussion. We can provide that.
Public education is essential. As Kate Fitzgibbon, Silke Meyer and Sandra Walklate state inTheConversation, the domestic violence sector understands coercive control but the community does not yet. Nor do people understand how to respond. We must make sure that this bill is accompanied by a broad, well‑funded and well-researched public education campaign. Coercive control robs victims of their sense of self, their perspective and their agency. A public education campaign is one way to help them see the truth of their circumstances, to help friends and families recognise patterns of abuse that their loved ones may be experiencing and to give victim- survivors the language that they may need to seek protection and support.
It is also a means of confronting the myths and archaic misconceptions about power dynamics and abuse in families and intimate relationships, including the ludicrous idea that physical and sexual abuse are more damaging, frightening or serious than emotional or psychological abuse. This is long overdue, but education cannot stop with the public. We know that we are currently failing victim-survivors who report domestic violence. We already know that we need to upskill police and other first responders, including paramedics and hospital staff. The passing of this bill will bring that problem into even starker focus.
The police need to know what to look for when attending reports of domestic violence. They need to know how to identify the primary abuser, how to identify coercive and controlling behaviours and how to elicit the right information from the victim-survivor. They must learn to better assess the abuse in context, not as isolated incidents. Police must be able to gather evidence of a pattern of behaviours that are often subtle, need not be physical and are frequently unwitnessed. This will require training, funding, support and review. Scotland provided close to $2 million to Police Scotland for more than 14,000 police officers and support staff to receive training on their new Act. Police Scotland also developed online training for its 22,000 staff. The Scottish Parliament called for clear policies on how the new offence would be enforced, review of these policies in light of experience and ongoing reviews of funding. It was a radical change for policing and one of which they are justifiably proud.
This new offence will also be a challenge for the legal system. Both the judiciary and the police have insufficient specialist training and education on domestic violence, especially coercive controlling behaviours and other forms of non-physical abuse. Whether someone can get the protection that they need in a court is currently luck of the draw and depends on the magistrate overseeing the case. This must be rectified for all forms of domestic abuse. Training for all levels of the judiciary is vital and must be compulsory to be of full benefit. That means prosecutors, judicial officers, care and protection workers, family law practitioners, lawyers and court clinicians. The Scottish experience shows us that coercive control is likely to be a resource-intensive offence. Cases are likely to be complex. Legal Aid and the Women's Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service must be adequately funded to deal with the new cases that this change will bring. Those seeking justice should be assured that they will be treated consistently and with compassion and expertise regardless of who hears their case and regardless of their financial means or postcode.
Last week when debating amendments to the Stronger Communities Legislation Amendment (Domestic Violence) Bill 2020 we heard that funding, court access, court capacity and even the age of the court building can impact on a victim-survivor's experience of justice. The Government must prioritise funding. It is not an exaggeration to say that lives depend on it. That brings me to the next piece of the puzzle. Women's Safety NSW CEO Hayley Foster, who is here with us today, has stated that it will be crucial to ensure that the system is ready to cope with the new laws. That will require reskilling of frontline workers. The frontline domestic violence sector is chronically under-resourced. Victim-survivors and their children need support, but we must stop using cost as an excuse to ignore domestic violence.
We cannot sit in this place and wring our hands about the loss of life, the impact on children, the abuse of animals and the dreadful tragedy that is domestic abuse while continuing to dribble out crumbs of funding to the sector. If we are genuine about fixing this problem then we must put serious funding into supporting victim- survivors. There is simply no other option. We must listen to the sector and allocate funding based on their recommendations. We must ensure that there is sufficient funding for advocacy services, crisis accommodation, social housing, counselling and support services. Victim-survivors, who are mostly women, must be given the support and protection that they need at the most dangerous time in an abusive relationship: when they try to leave.
We know from both the Scottish and Irish experiences of criminalising coercive control that it will be ineffective without the necessary resources to accompany the legislation, which is why the date of commencement of this bill is a full year following assent. This 12-month window will allow training and education to occur before the bill becomes law so that everyone—the community, the police, the judiciary and the sector—is ready to go. We must go beyond good legislation and back it up with the funding to effect real and lasting change. I believe that we can make that real and lasting change in this place. With members across a number of different parties both here and in the other Chamber working together—many of whom are here in the Chamber today—we can do this.
I will finish with a quote from Jess Hill. Her groundbreaking bookSee What You Made Me Do opened my eyes and those of so many others—in this place and in other jurisdictions around Australia—to what exactly we are looking at when we and those that we know are or have been subjected to this systematic psychological and emotional abuse, which seeks to control us and deprive us of our liberty and autonomy. She said:
I can't think of another type of behaviour that literally can be classified as torture, and is used in other contexts like torture, that we define as legally permissible … We have always perceived physical violence to be the most severe expression of domestic abuse …
But most victims will say the physical violence was not the worst part they experienced—it was the coercive control.
She also said:
The process needs to be lengthy—it needs to take in all the relevant expertise, both from the victim and the professional side …
We need to make sure we get the legislation right and that the details and every word in that is exactly right. Doing something on the fly is just not going to cut it. [But] it's what you do once the law has been passed that changes culture.
Criminalising coercive control will not wipe out domestic abuse. Only drastic cultural change can do that. But a real commitment to resourcing, community education, training and education of the police and judiciary, and sufficient funding for crisis and support services, can end the abuse for many people who currently live in fear.
I commend the bill to the House.