Page 2808 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 11 October 2022

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Those are all the details that the courts have—the judges and magistrates, who try to make balanced bail decisions to get good outcomes for the community. I, as a politician and the Attorney-General, do not pretend to be able to superimpose bail decisions over the top of the independent judges and magistrates. I do not have all the information, and I agree with the system we have that trusts this great burden of decision-making to our experienced judiciary. This is even recognised by the police, with the Chief Police Officer stating during the recent estimates hearing that he does not envy having to make those decisions.

In the absence of this knowledge, what I hear Mr Hanson essentially arguing is that no-one should be awarded bail, as anyone accused of an offence poses an intolerable risk. It does not matter who they are, or what they are accused of, or how old or young they are, they should not be in the community on bail. That is an extreme position and one that this government cannot support.

What would be the repercussions of never giving bail? Everyone put on remand, into the AMC or Bimberi, and the overcrowding and institutionalisation that would ensue. I would encourage Mr Hanson to reflect upon the words of the Victorian Court of Appeal, when they said:

… imprisonment is often seriously detrimental for the prisoner, and hence for the community. The regimented institutional setting induces habits of dependency, which lead over time to institutionalisation and to behaviours which render the prisoner unfit for life in the outside world. Worse still, the forced cohabitation of convicted criminals operates as a catalyst for renewed criminal activity upon release. Self-evidently, such consequences are greatly to the community’s disadvantage.

This is the essential point of what we are trying to achieve in the ACT: to reduce ongoing offending.

We have heard some colourful comments from commentators about ideology. I reject those analyses. What we are trying to do is make the community safer. We are trying to use the learned experience, over the many years and decades of the development of criminal justice systems in Australia, that understands that the way we are going to make a difference and the way we are going to improve community safety is to invest in breaking the cycle of criminality amongst those we see flowing through our justice system, as the court outlined in those comments.

That is why we have committed to the reducing recidivism strategy. We talk to the police and they will say, “Yes there is a group of people who are regularly involved in the criminal justice system.” We are seeking to intervene and change their lives to make our community safer.

The recent evaluation of the Drug and Alcohol Sentencing List—and that is a group who are recognised recidivist offenders who have been in the criminal justice system for a long time—and what that work is showing is that, by taking a different approach to criminal justice, we are actually reducing their reoffending. The evidence was very clear. The numbers in that program remain small, but it is consistent with the advice we have and the approach we are seeking to take, which is to make our community safer we cannot keep doing it the way we have always done it.

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