Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 5 Hansard (11 May) . . Page.. 1660..
Mr Mulcahy (continuing):
custody in Western Australia is $241 a day. They must get better meals! Compare that with $14 a day for supervising an offender in the community. Queensland also has this scheme and, interestingly, aims community service at the genuinely needy who are experiencing financial difficulties, so there is a bit of finetuning there.
My amendment is not radical in social or economic terms. Rather, it is a logical move that will benefit government financially in the short term and socially in the long term, as well as benefiting individual skills and networks and assisting the community. Mr Speaker, I do have hope that gradually the ACT will move to such a system of community service orders. While understanding that it would be rather difficult to put more than 100,000 currently outstanding fine defaulters on community service orders in the next week or two, it is something that we could move to over time.
MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (11.13): Mr Speaker, it is not often that I agree with the government on sentencing matters but, whilst I have some sympathy for what Dr Foskey is proposing, I see this bill as being completely reasonable. Funnily enough, the union rate of 71/2 hours of community service work for every $100 of an outstanding fine probably is not a bad sort of scenario. A fine probably would have to involve a big corporation for 500 hours of community service work to apply and then it would have to be one of the biggest fines ever in the ACT. I think that that is probably quite reasonable.
I accept the attorney's comment that there would be significant difficulties in this regard. I think that it is good that he is looking at this question. Most of us are old enough to remember the case of Jamie Partlic, who was beaten to a pulp by some prisoner while he was in jail over a parking fine default. That was when lots of improvements were made in relation to fine defaults.
When fine defaults were operating in the ACT in the 1980s the rate used to be, I think, $25 a day and for the first four days you would be kept in a police station, but if you had to pay for more than four days you would go Goulburn, which most people did not like. In fact, I can recall a flatmate of mine who owed $325 being picked up at work and I remember paying $250 so that he did not have to go to Goulburn. He was kept here instead. He was due to go to army reserve training that night and I rang his platoon commander, who was a mate of mine, and said, "Johnny is not going to be there."He was let out about six minutes after he should have been and he was rattling a can on his cell at Civic police station to get out. In the end he worked out $75 of it and paid me back the $250 I lent him.
A good scheme has come in concerning the Road Transport Act. I commend to the government extending that one beyond just traffic matters. I remember being in the First Assembly when it first came in back in about 1990. You may too, Mr Speaker. I think I made the point at the time that the three most serious offences in the ACT had just become murder—you can only have manslaughter now; we do not have murder any more—driving whilst your licence was cancelled, for which people used to go to jail, and parking. If you did not pay your parking fine, you would have your licence taken away and you could not register your car until you had paid the fine. I thought that that was a quite severe but not unreasonable punishment. The number of unpaid parking fines, and then it was extended to traffic fines, went through the floor. Most people simply paid up because of the huge inconvenience of not having your licence renewed and having your registration effectively stripped until you actually paid your outstanding traffic fines.