ACT must investigate laws for one-punch attacks

The recent alleged one-punch attack in Canberra should prompt the ACT government to investigate the territory's violence laws.

The disturbing footage released this week of an alleged one-punch attack on a man in Civic on New Year's Eve is a reminder that Canberra is not immune to such horrifying crime.

All violence is inexcusable but there is something particularly insidious about the delivery of a surprise attack against an unsuspecting victim.

In this case the victim, who has spoken of his surprise at being alive after the alleged punch, has fortunately escaped the fate of Brisbane teen Cole Miller, who died this week.

The young water polo player suffered massive brain injuries after an alleged one-punch attack in Brisbane last Sunday morning.

One-punch, or "coward punch" attacks have been roundly condemned nationwide and the ACT government has been urged to rethink its own laws, as well as drive cultural change over alcohol and violence in the territory.

The two men set to face court over the Brisbane teenager's death will face the charge of unlawful striking causing death.


This is a charge set up by the former Newman government to target one-punch deaths after a string of similar tragedies occurred across Australia.

It mirrors manslaughter but removes the "accident" defence and carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Other states, including NSW, also have specific laws for death caused by one-punch attacks.

The footage released by ACT Policing this week prompted a strong reaction on social media and revived a debate on drunken violence similar to 2014, when there were a string of alleged one-punch attacks.

Attorney-General Simon Corbell said this week there were no plans to introduce one-punch legislation in the ACT and laws for offences including common assault and intentionally inflicting grievous bodily harm were adequate.

The minister and the rest of the ACT government should not be quick to rule out implementing one-punch laws and an investigation into the issue is surely warranted.

Any measure that can be used to help protect Canberrans should be considered by those with the responsibility to keep the nation's capital a safe place to live.