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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 7 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 2140 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

This Bill completes a review of penalties which has been conducted in two stages. The review has applied uniform penalties review principles and a recommended scale of penalties for regulatory offences to penalties across a wide range of ACT legislation.

The outcome of the first stage of review was given effect to by the Statute Law Revision (Penalties) Act 1994 and the Regulations Revision (Penalties) Regulations of 1996. The first stage of the review covered the penalties identified by agencies as being of high social importance, or in respect of offences of frequent occurrence, or which had been the subject of criticism. Penalties in the Acts and regulations not covered in the first stage of the review have been reviewed in this, the second stage. Administrative penalties are not included in the review.

Penalties in the Crimes Act 1900, Crimes (Offences against the Government) Act 1989 and Drugs of Dependence Act 1989 have not been reviewed. A review of the penalties in these statutes would be appropriate once the Model Criminal Code exercise, which is being undertaken at the national level, is complete. That process is expected to conclude later this year.

As penalties in recently enacted legislation will have been set pursuant to the penalties review guidelines and policy, there is no need for them to be included in the review. Penalties which are included in Acts which are part of a uniform legislation scheme, some penalties which agencies were in the process of reviewing separately, and the penalties in ordinances applying in the ACT were not part of the review.

The review exercise has been undertaken to achieve, firstly, the conversion of all legislative pecuniary penalties, except administrative penalties - that is, on-the-spot fines - and penalties in some uniform legislation, into penalty units; and, secondly, internal consistency in the levels of penalties in ACT legislation proportionate to the respective severity of the offences. The review implemented a fine-imprisonment ratio of 50 penalty units for an imprisonment term of six months, where penalties included both a fine and a term of imprisonment. By completing the review process of updating the penalties, the Bill contributes to the effective and fair operation of the statutory regulatory regime of the Territory.

The second stage of the review is more complicated and difficult than the first stage and dealt with more than double the number of penalties included in the first stage.

Acts which have been enacted since the commencement of the penalties review exercise have usually included penalties set in accordance with the penalties review guidelines and policy.

However, until the enactment of the Interpretation (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1994, the pecuniary amounts of those penalties were specified in dollar terms. The Bill amends such penalties so that they are specified in penalty units.

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