Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (25 June) . . Page.. 1044 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

I do wonder sometimes whether our continuing to embrace on-the-spot fines should be investigated with a view to determining whether or not they are appropriate. I put that on the record as something that I think is of concern. On-the-spot fines have been with us for only 10 to 15 years. It is quite interesting that, without the on-the-spot fine process, our current legal systems would probably break and collapse. I acknowledge the great benefits of on-the-spot fines; but there are some issues which we as an Assembly may, at some stage, wish to have a look at.

Turning to the Bills, I will make a couple of brief comments and refer to amendments that I have indicated I believe will enhance the legislation. I accept the tiered structure that has been introduced in this raft of legislation. I think it is appropriate. I do not have particular difficulty with a proposal that licences, or registration, will be affected in relation to matters not related to motor traffic issues. I think the jealousy with which we guard our licences - those of us that have them - is a very significant and perhaps useful inducement that can be used by governments. It is almost a bullying tactic. One might allude to the fact that perhaps this whole raft of legislation has just a touch of the bully about it, which I applaud and in the circumstances think is quite appropriate.

Regarding the tiered structure, the steps that are taken initially to have a fine remitted, to cancel a licence, with a potential impact on car registration, and to garnishee, to actually produce the bailiff, are quite appropriate. Of course, the legislation, as currently drafted, has gaol as the ultimate sanction. With this sort of legislation, at times gaol will be appropriate.

However, I do not quite understand a couple of aspects of the legislation. I do not understand why the Government, having developed what I regard as quite good legislation - and I am prepared to give credit where I think it is due - did not allow for the prospect of a community service order as perhaps that one final step back from gaol. It seems to me that opportunities other than gaol do exist. There is one in community service orders. There are other things that governments can do before sending citizens to gaol. In relation to fines, there is that underlying philosophy that we should do everything we can to keep people out of gaol. That is the basis on which these amendments have been drafted. In the context of my amendments there is available to us an opportunity to allow people to select whether or not they wish to be considered for a community service order.

When people wish to make an application to a court for a community service order, rather than just going straight to gaol, we should encourage that. My proposed amendments will allow that. They simply allow for the treadmill to be stopped, for a defaulter to get off the treadmill at that stage, prior to going to gaol, and to make an application to a court for a community service order to be considered by the court. That is consistent with the approach which the Minister has adopted on this legislation. Similarly, I have a real concern that the legislation, insofar as it applies to children, or people under 18, once again does not allow for the process to be stopped. It does not permit the treadmill to be stopped just before gaol to allow the court - I am suggesting, with the advice of the Community Advocate - to assess whether there are very good reasons why a child fine defaulter should not go to gaol for that fine default. It is appropriate that we do not set in train a procedure which starts with a youth and perhaps some offence involving his identity card on a bus or whatever.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .