Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 3341 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
and that is a concern. This legislation reflects that change in focus. It removes the possibility for fine defaulters to receive a community service order. It seems to me that a community service order is a most appropriate order in a significant number of cases. I cannot see why it should be denied to the courts in relation to a fine defaulter.
Mr Humphries: It is not. They have that jurisdiction anyway. Your legislation makes it automatic that they go back for a CSO.
MR STANHOPE: Under your fine default legislation, Minister, the community service order option is not available. We are seeking to reintroduce it.
Mr Humphries: I do not think that is right. They have an inherent jurisdiction to do it at any stage they want. You check it out.
MR STANHOPE: Are you suggesting that under your scheme, once people get on your treadmill, they can go off for a community service order? How does the registrar get them back to the Magistrates Court?
Mr Humphries: They apply to the court.
MR STANHOPE: You have a scheme, Minister, that has deliberately excluded community service orders from its purview. As I said before, under the scheme as it currently applies, the registrar must at some stage reach a conclusion that he has taken all reasonable action to secure payment and that there is no reasonable likelihood of a fine being paid. At that stage the registrar commits the person to prison. He simply does not have a discretion under the scheme.
Mr Humphries: He does not, but the court does.
MR STANHOPE: Under my proposals a community service order would not be made unless suitable work was available and the fine defaulter was a suitable person. The smart alec fine defaulter is unlikely to receive the court's approval. The threat of imprisonment does not go away with these amendments. The threat of imprisonment remains. If a community service order is made, under my legislation the person must fully and faithfully carry it out. That is their last chance. If there is a breach of the community service order or a conviction for some other offence, the fine defaulter then goes to prison. That is the way the scheme is adjusted by my legislation.
While the cost of community service orders must be considered, there are a range of other factors. The Attorney has made great play of the cost of community service orders. I would be very interested in seeing the figures for what Ms Tucker spoke about. The Attorney suggested that the community service order scheme would cost more. Compared to what? Compared to gaol? What are the cost comparisons? How were they done? What assumptions were made about the number of people who, faced with the threat of going to gaol without the option of a community service order, would pay their fine or about the cost of sending a person to gaol, which I understand is significantly higher than the cost of a community service order? I am incredibly intrigued by the cost analysis. I would be very happy for the Minister to table the costings done by Corrective Services.