Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 3 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 617 ..
MR QUINLAN (continuing):
I have to agree with what Mr Stanhope said-that a feature of the last parliament was that very simplistic logic was used to justify fairly hairy-chested legislation. At many times whilst we debated these things in this place, there was a paucity of intellectual rigor to support it. It was the shock jock talkback radio reflex action.
I really think that this place should be above that. I am sorry I cannot agree with Mr Pratt, who says there is a demonstrable major impact, and that reviews are not needed. In fact, reviews are about thinking. Really, we should take these statistics and what we hear in anecdotal evidence, put it together and review it. We should think about it.
As Mr Stanhope has said, at this stage there has been no telegraphic message by this government that it will change the Bail Act at this time. But, be warned-there will, and may, be cases coming forward where it turns out to be a failure, in terms of the liberty of some individual or individuals. Then the debate will be open again.
I cannot support the motion.
MS TUCKER (11.48): I have not had time to put a lot of work into this motion. We were given notice of it only yesterday. I do not fully understand the status of the sentencing guidelines-I am not going to pretend I do. However, I will talk to the general issues that have been raised by this motion.
I think this is a very important issue. That is why I am disappointed that I did not have more notice of this-so I could have done some more work. I will do that after the fact anyway, because this is obviously not going to go away.
A review has been announced by the Chief Minister, to look at sentencing. That sounds as though it is a useful thing. I have certainly made the point in this place often enough over the last six or seven years that we need to be very careful about becoming too involved in determining that a hard, punitive response to crime is required in our community. I have said that this Assembly has to get quite deeply involved in what exactly that response should be. We have had debates, in this place, over the last few years, about legislation that was introduced by the previous government. We believed the Liberal government was moving towards almost mandatory sentencing.
There seemed to be a great deal more sympathy to that than I thought was good for a society which, on the other hand, claims to be committed to principles such as the presumption of innocence. That came up in the debate on the amendment to the Bail Act, which is the first point in Mr Stefaniak's motion.
Mr Stefaniak's motion says that we should note the falling crime rates in the ACT, attributed by the police in part to the reforms made to the Bail Act. I have taken an interest in this and done work on it. I was the only member who was not supportive of it when it was debated in the last Assembly. The evidence is not at all in terms of what effect the bail amendments have had on crime rates.