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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 3 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 607 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

Now that we are developing a court of appeal, sentencing guidelines should be used by that court and prepared by that court to be used throughout the territory. It is something that could give a lot more certainty to the sentencing process.

The community at large, Mr Speaker, does have a very real concern about what it perceives to be overly lenient sentences by our courts. Overly lenient sentences do not assist anyone in the judicial process. They certainly do not assist the community by ensuring that the relevant sentencing principles of deterrence, retribution, prevention and rehabilitation are satisfied. They do not even assist the criminal.

The ACT has very many similar characteristics to New South Wales. The types of criminal offences that are occurring are similar, and we have a common border with a reasonably big inland New South Wales city, Queanbeyan, which is very intertwined with the ACT. I think there is a very strong need for consistency in sentencing within our ACT courts, but also between our courts and their counterparts in New South Wales and, ultimately, because of things such as the development of a national criminal code.

It is incongruous, to say the least, that an offender who might normally get a tariff of say three or four years for a certain offence in New South Wales may expect to get a much more lenient sentence in the ACT of, say, 12 months, for what is effectively the same offence committed in the same circumstances.

I think there is a very strong case, not only in logical terms, but also based on my experience with both the New South Wales and ACT court systems, for following what is effectively a very fair and sensible system in New South Wales. Indeed, I commend the Carr government, and I am sure its Liberal opposition supports its sentencing guidelines.

We have a unique opportunity, with our new Court of Appeal, to give our courts the opportunity to improve sentencing practices, and to develop appropriate sentencing guidelines for our territory. I think that is something that will be of great benefit to our community. It will take the inconsistencies out of the system, but there will still be room for special and individual circumstances to be taken into account. It will also give a great deal more satisfaction and joy to the community, I think, who have real concerns about how the judicial system in the ACT operates. We will all be the better for it if this approach is adopted, and I commend it to the government, although I must admit I do not expect much.

MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for Women) (11.13): The government will not support this motion today. Of course, we do note that some crime rates have fallen. There are some aspects of the motion that, of course, we are happy to note, for instance, that I did make some comments on the weekend about sentencing, but in toto the government is not inclined to support the motion.

Indeed, we had some discussion about issues related to bail the other day. The AFP has briefed my colleague, Mr Quinlan, the minister for police, on the operations of section 9A. The shadow Attorney is correct when he says that the anecdotal evidence that we have to date is confirmed by some informal advice from the Australian Federal Police

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