Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 3 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 620 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
possible that you will see someone committing a crime more than once if the problem is not dealt with. That, of course, is what happens.
In fact, if people with substance abuse problems, addictions, mental health problems, et cetera, are not supported, guess what? They do it again. There is a problem with this sort of line that comes from the Liberals. I will not support this, because I think it is supporting the position of the Liberal Party. I am fundamentally concerned about that and will not support it.
The problem is that they are not really seriously understanding, or looking at, how we can have sentencing options which fit the crime. That means looking at why these people have got into trouble. It means that, as a community, we resource, through government and through the budget, solutions to the social problems that have caused this situation. That is the sort of thing I hope to see.
I note that ACTCOSS has welcomed this review of sentencing laws. They said:
... the review of sentencing is welcome, but should not follow interstate examples and get caught up in the idea of harsher prison sentences.
I totally support that statement-I think I have already made it. It says further:
By the Chief Minister's own admission, up to 70 per cent of the ACT residents in prison have substance abuse problems, suffer from a mental illness or are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent.
It also says that we must have a sentencing review which gives an opportunity for community groups, and members of the public, to put forward positive and progressive options for sentencing.
That is, of course, exactly what should happen. I will be keenly interested to be involved in that review, if that is the principle the government uses to carry out the review.
MR SMYTH (12.02): Mr Speaker, I rise to put to rest some of the accusations that have been made. We heard from the Chief Minister that we are all rednecks over here. We heard from Ms Tucker that we are characterised by a particular bent to the law and order solution. If you look at the record of the last six years, you will see that none of that is borne out.
On one hand, we have been supportive of the police and their endeavours to enforce the law but, on the other hand, we have been innovative in our approach to make sure that we break the cycle that leads to crime. People should refer to the report of the poverty task force. We tried to find out the issues that kept people trapped in poverty to make sure we could break the cycle. We know that a large number of people who are caught up in crime have health problems, possibly mental health problems. Areas of the 2001-02 budget look at early intervention and poverty so that we can break the cycle.
This is a party that has always had a broad mind and an innovative approach to dealing with crime. You have to have the firm hand of the police, and we need to give the police resources and legislation so they can administer and enforce the law appropriately. But this is also the party that introduced periodic detention and home detention bracelets.