Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (25 June) . . Page.. 1045 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
It is appropriate that we do not have a situation where a young person, for some fairly innocuous offence such as that - or anything you would care to imagine - through some sort of perverse spirit or complete breakdown within himself, finds himself in gaol for that offence. I think we should do everything we can to ensure that such people do not end up in gaol. In that regard I think we should look to the Community Advocate and to a process that allows the particular position of the child to be assessed before he or she is sent automatically to an institution.
Mr Kaine: Do you get the idea that people are not very interested in what you have to say?
MR STANHOPE: I do. I think I have basically covered the issues. Thank you for your interest, Mr Kaine.
Mr Wood: I am behind you, too.
MR STANHOPE: And, of course, my colleague Mr Wood. I think I have covered almost everything that I wished to say about the legislation. As I have said, I think it is good legislation. There are a couple of very minor amendments which can be made to it that enhance it and meet what I believe to be the Minister's aim of ensuring that fines are paid, while doing whatever we can to keep people out of gaol.
That final step is also important in the context of the fines that we are dealing with today, which are those fines imposed by courts - where the court, at the outset, decided that a fine was the appropriate punishment, mindful of course that there was a process, if the fine was not paid, for the offender to end up in gaol. Having now introduced a whole range of steps, it is appropriate that, if those steps do not succeed - and one hopes that in 99 per cent of the cases they will - the court will again look at the matter, or at least at the circumstances. If this range of processes to have defaulters pay their fines does not succeed, it seems to me that there must be some pretty hard core reason why. When a person, having lost their licence and having been garnisheed - having the bailiff sent in - gets to that point and still refuses to pay, it seems to me that there must be a pretty significant reason why. I do not know whether it is just perversity or outlawism. There may be other reasons which the court should have another look at before that person goes to gaol, particularly in relation to children. I hope the Assembly can support my amendments. I certainly support the intent of the legislation and congratulate the Minister on bringing it forward.
MR KAINE (12.10): Mr Speaker, I support this Bill. The Minister will know that, as the previous Minister for Urban Services, I instituted a range of activities to make our drivers not only safer drivers but also aware of the penalties that apply if they do not observe the road rules, common courtesy, and the like. So I am very much in favour of this kind of legislation that brings defaulters to account. I commend the Minister for putting the legislation in place.