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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 14 Hansard (Tuesday, 22 November 2005) . . Page.. 4389 ..

your suggestion in relation to the attitude both the government and the Greens have taken to guideline judgments. I simply refer to the points or comments I made in relation to clause 33A in relation to guideline judgments and would reiterate everything I said on that occasion.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (11.03): I will also be brief. I thank the attorney for being brief. I have one point. Dr Foskey mentioned this. It might take up something the attorney said earlier. It is not an unwarranted interference with the courts, because this is, if you read it, the Court of Appeal doing it itself. If you recall what I said, if the attorney did not want to be involved, I would be quite happy to have that part struck out.

Superior courts have regularly overturned inferior courts. Our Court of Appeal, according to the most recent stats on sentencing, upheld the crown’s appeal against excessive leniency on three out of four occasions. It happens all around the country that a superior court such as the Court of Appeal, the New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal or indeed the High Court, if anyone goes that far, will often tell the trial judge he or she got it wrong.

To reiterate my earlier point about this act dealing with a whole series of guidelines to a court: the courts get it wrong. Courts comprise judicial officers who are human beings. Often you will find, with one particular matter, if you had three different judges dealing with it, you would get three different decisions in terms of some things like sentencing.

Things like guideline judgments are an attempt to ensure a superior court can set guidelines which make it easier for a lower court to follow, to assist in terms of greater consistency which is what defendants especially, as much as anyone else, probably appreciate. You might get lucky perhaps; you might get unlucky. Surely consistency is something defendants appreciate more. That is what this aims to do.

Simply leaving it to a trial judge as the absolute, sole judge of everything is something that does not happen now. It is probably a divine right of kings-type concept; it is almost medieval. We already have superior courts that interfere with the judgments of lower courts. All this amendment does is make it easier for consistency by enabling a superior court to issue a guideline judgment.

Question put:

That Mr Stefaniak’s amendment be agreed to.

The Assembly voted—

Ayes 7

Noes 10

Mrs Burke

Mr Smyth

Mr Berry

Mr Hargreaves

Mrs Dunne

Mr Stefaniak

Mr Corbell

Ms MacDonald

Mr Mulcahy

Dr Foskey

Ms Porter

Mr Pratt

Ms Gallagher

Mr Quinlan

Mr Seselja

Mr Gentleman

Mr Stanhope

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