Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 October 2018) . . Page.. 4078 ..
It also means that we focus on helping to prevent some of the causes of crime by reducing poverty in the ACT, funding drug and alcohol treatment programs and properly funding mental health services. Tackling crime requires a holistic approach. It is important that our laws are effective and efficient. It is vital for our justice system that we have a clear operation of criminal laws that work in together.
This bill clarifies some of the existing issues in the existing criminal code. Firstly, it standardises warrant provisions across the territory acts so it is clear that it is a magistrate of the Magistrates Court that has the power to issue warrants. It provides the powers to an associate judge of the Supreme Court as equivalent to those granted to judges to issue warrants as a persona designata. Increasing the pool of judges available to perform these duties will make the court system timelier and run more efficiently for law enforcement agencies. This change is in line with the recent change made to the Supreme Court Act.
This bill also increases the monetary value of a penalty unit under section 133(2) of the Legislation Act. Previously a penalty unit was $150 for an individual and $750 for a corporation. Under this bill, a penalty unit is now $160 for an individual and $810 for a corporation.
Finally, this bill extends existing mechanisms for transferring back-up or related charges with an indictable matter committed to the Supreme Court under section 88B of the Magistrates Court Act. These changes together will ensure that the ACT court system works more effectively in the interests of justice. This bill is just one small element of the government’s policy agenda to improve our justice system and keep Canberrans safe. The government is committed to investing in a transparent, timely and accessible legal system.
Over the course of this year we are expecting to progress 15,000 cases through the court and tribunal system, including 1,000 domestic and family orders. Over the same period, 15,500 calls are expected to be made to the Legal Aid helpline. In response to this, more resourcing has been made available for legal aid. This year the government appointed a new magistrate to help deal with this caseload and to ensure that matters are dealt with in a timely fashion. More resources were also made available for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Our government has a firm belief that creating alternatives to the prison system would be extremely beneficial to the whole community. The ACT is a national leader in alternative justice pathways such as restorative justice. Funding increases will allow a 25 per cent increase in a restorative justice conference. We are expanding access to restorative justice to offenders under the age of 18 who have not committed a serious crime as long as they do not deny responsibility for that crime. Ensuring that many eligible young people can have access to this program will help divert vulnerable youth away from the criminal justice system. The fewer young people in jail, the better.
Our government’s goal is to reduce recidivism by 25 per cent by 2025. This will be achieved through the employment and skill building programs in correctional