Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 2 Hansard (19 May) . . Page.. 319 ..
MR MOORE (continuing):
What great models! What great models of law reform! Let me talk about some of the laws from these jurisdictions. Queensland is a jurisdiction where the police have the prerogative to detain somebody for possession of drugs, body cavity search them and say, "Oh, sorry; there was not a problem at all. You can go". In the Northern Territory jurisdiction a repeat offence is out of the hands of the judiciary; there is an automatic penalty. In one particular case that I am aware of somebody reached across a fence and took an apple and was sentenced to gaol because it is an automatic penalty. These are not jurisdictions upon which to model law reform. Victoria, granted, in some ways, has been more forthright in some of its law reform measures; but it has also been very reactionary in some of its others. This is simply reactionary legislation. It interferes with civil liberties and it ought to be rejected.
MS TUCKER (12.21): I am really sorry that this Bill has come up again and I am extremely concerned when I realise that it is probably going to get through. I think Mr Moore has spoken strongly on this subject, as has Mr Stanhope. I am also very concerned generally about the fact that I have this comment from the scrutiny of Bills committee. I understand that Mr Berry will be moving that this debate be adjourned when I have completed speaking. I hope that members will show enough respect for process in this place to support that adjournment motion. It is totally unacceptable that we are given a few comments like this, and I agree with Mr Stanhope that it is not clear what is meant. This is a hugely important issue. We have been told that scrutiny of Bills is still being given the emphasis and importance that it has always had in this place, so I am expecting to see the Government, as well, supporting an adjournment on those grounds.
On the actual issue of prevalence in sentencing, the Greens opposed it last time, and obviously we will be opposing it again. It is very concerning to see this very simplistic response to issues of crime in our society. It is not only not showing any understanding of the causes of crime, but it also is fundamentally challenging what we accept as basic concepts of law. I quote here from Moira Rayner's "Rooting Democracy. Growing the Society We Want". She says that one of the principles of the rule of law is:
The law does not permit the arbitrary exercise of power ... No-one can be punished except for a breach of a law, and the punishment should be tailored to the crime, its consequences and the individual offender's circumstances.
Also, Report No. 44 of 1988 of the Australian Law Reform Commission, the report on sentencing, outlined a number of key principles of sentencing which have guided its recommendations. Amongst those principles is this:
Goals such as the incapacitation of the offender or the pursuit of general deterrence should not be objectives of the imposition of punishment.
Consideration of prevalence in sentencing will result in inconsistency of punishment. Consideration of prevalence in sentencing punishes offenders for the crimes of other offenders and is therefore unjust. In a just society people are treated as individuals in a way that is proper for them.