Page 2254 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 3 August 2022

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On 14 February this year, the Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety decided to have an inquiry into this bill and issued its report on 14 April. In the government’s response on 2 June, the government said it agreed with recommendation 5, which I quote:

The Committee recommends that in two years from the commencement of the Act, the Attorney-General provide an update to the Assembly on the impact of the legislation.

The government’s response, as I said, was to agree with this recommendation but to note that there is a three year statutory review in the bill itself. In particular, I refer to clause 94 of the bill that proposes a new section 156, “Review of the Act”. It states:

(1) The Minister must—

(a) review the operation and effectiveness of this Act as soon as practicable after the end of 3 years after this section commences …

I do note that in spirit the government has agreed to the JACS committee recommendation 5 and states in its response:

… the Government will also provide an update to the Assembly, two years after the legislation commences, focussed on any data readily available from criminal justice system agencies.

The purpose of my amendment is to take this recommendation a little bit further, and for good reasons. There were concerns expressed during the hearing that the minister could not directly answer the question of whether he expected that the sentencing of such offenders, as envisaged by this bill, would be higher. That was not really answered directly at all, so there seemed to be some uncertainty as to the impact in the government’s own mind as to what this bill will do. So, rather than wait for three years, given the government’s commitment to do an update on available data, let us make it a little bit more thorough and rigorous than that. Rather than have an update in two years and a statutory review in three, let us bring that statutory review forward by one year to two years from the commencement of the act.

I do not think this should be considered by the government as being particularly onerous. They have committed to doing an update, whatever that may mean, so how about, for the reasons I have stated earlier in my speech and also echoed by Mrs Kikkert, the government commit to a statutory review within two years, as opposed to the proposed three years. I am speaking to my amendments, of course, at the same time as giving my response in debate.

My proposal is simply to amend clause 94—and the members have a copy of my proposed amendments—so that the operation and effectiveness of this act must be reviewed by the minister as soon as practical after the end of two years. And there are obviously some subsequent flow-ons with other time periods in that proposed section 156 so that this statutory review must be presented back to the Assembly before the end of three years, rather than four as currently stated, and the section expires in four years rather than five.

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