Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 21 November 2007) . . Page.. 3587 ..
sentences and sentencing guidelines for use by the Supreme Court and the Magistrates Court. The Attorney-General will also be able to request the court of appeal to give a guideline judgement. For those offences where there are not those recommended non-parole periods, it will enable the court of appeal to set out the guidelines to be followed for certain types of crimes and to detail what sorts of penalties should be imposed by the lower courts for certain types of offences. It is used very effectively, I understand, in New South Wales, where there are guideline judgements for things such as culpable driving, in the case of a person killing someone as a result of culpable driving. The New South Wales Court of Appeal has issued guideline judgements in relation to offences such as that.
It is a very effective way for a lower court to handle those types of incidents. Of course, every crime is different but some have a very similar pattern. There is the ability in this package, as happens in New South Wales, to take very different circumstances into account. This system is working well in New South Wales. ACT practitioners comment to me, “It’s a pretty reasonable system and makes a lot more sense than what we’ve got.” They are being honest about it; in many instances you might think it would be in their interest to get their client off. So I take notice of that. I am pleased that what always appeared to me to be a sensible system is actually working well.
As I indicated, there is a new offence of carjacking, which would carry a maximum penalty of 10 years, or 14 years for aggravated circumstances. Some additional things were included in a previous bill, and which I will deal with later, but they are not included in this legislation.
Finally—and to an extent this is probably less than the standard non-parole period in the sentencing guidelines—our criminal law is very much out of kilter with New South Wales in simple things such as maximum penalties. A maximum penalty does not give any guarantee that the court will adhere to it, but in many instances it does. It does express the legislature’s concern—and, through the legislature, community concern—about certain offences. Even this government has introduced in some areas increased maximum penalties for a number of offences. I think arson was one, which was up to 15 years. The late Justice Connolly issued quite a strong sentence in relation to one act there as a result of the legislature plainly making known that it was a serious offence. Accordingly, a maximum of 15 years was seen as sensible. So it is important for consistency reasons.
I will give some examples of what is included in the bill. For rape, all maximum penalties need to be increased, with the current maximum penalty available for rape in the first degree rising from 20 years to life. For manslaughter, the maximum penalty for industrial manslaughter will rise from 20 to 25 years. For malicious wounding, it will rise from five to 15 years. For culpable driving causing death, it will rise from five to 14 years. For abduction of a young person, it will rise from five to 10 years, and for false accounting it will rise from seven to 10 years.
In all, there are about 40 offences that have their maximum penalties increased in this legislation, basically in order to bring us into line with New South Wales. In a couple of areas, there has been a bit of an extrapolation simply because we have three