Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 October 2018) . . Page.. 4077 ..
amendments, which increased an associate judge’s powers to approve emergency authorisations and issue warrants under other legislation. This measure will increase the pool of judicial officers authorised to perform such functions, allowing for greater efficiency and timeliness in the way that law enforcement agencies engage with the judicial process.
The bill also clarifies the mechanism by which backups and related charges can be transferred to committals. This change rectifies a previous anomaly. It will act to reduce costs faced by a defendant and offer efficiency gains.
The monetary value of a penalty unit will increase with the changes in this bill. While this change will reflect price changes in the period since penalty units were last reviewed, the court will consider personal circumstances when imposing fines, meaning that the offender’s ability to pay will be taken into consideration. Taken together, each of these measures enables our criminal justice system to better respond to the needs of the community.
We also understand that, in justice and community safety, criminal justice is not the sole answer. The ACT is committed to not just ensuring that the criminal justice system operates as well as it can but also that we offer the appropriate alternative and supports where we can. As is well known, once an individual enters the correction system it is often very difficult to break the cycle and exit it.
That is why, while we appreciate and understand the need for criminal justice, ACT Labor will continue to explore opportunities for introducing restorative justice measures in the ACT. Restorative justice can include referral to conferencing programs where offenders are diverted away from the court or circle and forum sentencing where victims and offenders come together to discuss possible resolutions. It might also be used upon release from jail to mediate between an offender and a victim.
There are many opportunities in restorative justice to effect meaningful change in order to address issues such as recidivism. I am proud to be part of a government that realises that this is part of the solution. It is ACT Labor that understands and appreciates the need for a holistic approach to justice and community safety.
We have funded more staff for the Director of Public Prosecutions. We have increased funding for Legal Aid. We have signed up for the national redress scheme for ACT survivors of sexual abuse within institutions in the ACT. We have introduced an eighth magistrate. We have opened the new courtrooms. All of these measures illustrate our commitment to a fair and just society. I commend the bill to the Assembly.
MR PETTERSSON (Yerrabi) (11.53): Our ACT Labor government cares about keeping Canberrans safe. Our government understands the importance of reducing crime and supporting emergency services. This requires a multifaceted approach. It means improving our legal system so that it is more transparent and accessible, more funding for ACT Police and funding programs to help reduce recidivism.