Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2012 Week 6 Hansard (10 May) . . Page.. 2327..
The bill will also enable courts to better consider an offender's engagement with alcohol and drug treatment and referral services at sentencing. The bill provides that an offender's compliance with an order for assessment, treatment, referral or monitoring by the court alcohol and drug assessment service is a relevant sentencing consideration, enabling the court to take into account an offender's engagement with court-ordered drug and alcohol assessment at sentencing.
The bill will improve the administration of justice to ensure that the Children's Court can hear and decide charges against both an adult and a person aged under 18 where they are jointly charged. This will reduce duplication, strain on limited court resources and unnecessary trauma for victims who may have to give the same evidence twice.
The bill will amend the current offence of destroy or damage property offence in the Crimes Act 1900 in three ways. Firstly, it will increase the maximum penalty from six months to two years so that the offence is a viable alternative to the damaging property offence at section 403 of the Criminal Code 2002, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.
Secondly, the bill will apply the fault element of recklessness to the physical element of destroying or causing damage to property so that the offence is consistent with the damage property offence at section 403 of the Criminal Code 2002, which also has a fault element of recklessness.
Thirdly, the bill will provide that the offence applies where the value of the damage to the property rather than the value of the property itself, as the offence currently provides, does not exceed $5,000. The value of the property has not been amended since the introduction of the offence in 1995, and it is being increased to reflect inflation and the current value of property.
The bill will also make a number of minor but important amendments to: clarify that a defendant can appeal an order to disqualify them from holding a drivers licence under automatic disqualification; clarify that the Magistrates Court can hear burglary offences where the value of the property in question is less than $30,000; clarify the elements of the offence of affray and bring the maximum penalty for that offence into line with the comparable offence of assault; ensure that regulations concerning firearms manufacture can be made to enable the ACT to adopt a nationally consistent approach to the issue; and ensure that firearms licence legislation is in line with ACT Parks and Conservation Service and ACT Forests policy with respect to recreational hunting.
Madam Deputy Speaker, this bill provides tangible benefits for justice stakeholders and the wider community. I commend the bill to the Assembly.
Debate (on motion by Mrs Dunne) adjourned to the next sitting.
Courts Legislation Amendment Bill 2012
Mr Corbell, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.