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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 7 April 2005 2005) . . Page.. 1505 ..


MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Arts, Heritage and Indigenous Affairs) (11.45): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Today, I introduce the Crimes (Sentencing) Bill 2005. Sentencing criminal offenders is the responsibility of judges and magistrates. By anyone’s standard, it is a demanding and arduous task. Judges and magistrates have to hear about all kinds of violent and inhumane experiences and pass judgment on those found guilty. Despite continued exposure to the negative side of human behaviour, the law and the community expect courts to pass judgments in a consistent and objective way.

The task of a judge or magistrate sentencing an offender is to impose a sentence in a manner that applies sentencing principles and considerations to all cases equally. The sentencing court must balance the needs of the victim, the community and the offender. The court must also determine the factual basis upon which the sentence should be imposed and consider the circumstances of the offence. Sentencing is a skilful task that brings together qualitative determination about the appropriate penalty and a quantitative expression of the penalty itself.

No piece of legislation can possibly contemplate the variety of circumstances and people before the court, but it is the duty of governments and legislatures to set down a coherent framework of sentencing options and procedures. The government’s intention to improve sentencing law was made clear during our last term. In early 2002 a full sentencing review was announced and a sentencing review committee formed shortly thereafter. The purpose of the committee was to provide policy advice to the Department of Justice and Community Safety on sentencing issues. In September 2002 an issues paper was published and nine written submissions were received by the deadline in late January 2003. Further consultation with key stakeholders resulted in two more written submissions and a number of oral submissions being received.

This initial consultation shaped the two exposure drafts of the bills tabled in July and August last year, the Crimes (Sentencing) Bill and the Crimes (Sentence Administration) Bill. These two exposure drafts were the focus of further consultation. I am pleased to say that the key stakeholders made important comments and criticism of the bills. The bill before the Assembly today incorporates many of the suggestions made by stakeholders. On some issues that were in the balance or held no consensus, the government has made the final decision, as it is expected to do.

Before discussing the elements of the Crimes (Sentencing) Bill, I would like to foreshadow that the government intends to introduce the Crimes (Sentence Administration) Bill in June. That bill will contain counterpart provisions to the bill now before the Assembly.

This bill does not provide for home detention. The reason is based on our experience that the cost of running home detention greatly exceeds the benefit achieved from its use. Since 2001, only 35 people were suitable for home detention. Of those 35, only 25 completed their sentences. It is a low level of usage and a high failure rate. Despite the resources allocated to assess, monitor and police home detention, the ACT averaged


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