Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (7 May) . . Page.. 1653 ..
MRS BURKE (continuing):
offence, they do the crime and do the time-I hope that is the right way of putting it. Whatever is happening here with people breaching, if one person is breaching, it is one too many, as I have said.
I think there are compounding problems. I think the essence of the intent of Mr Stefaniak's motion should be supported and applauded. I thank him for the motion.
We cannot have a system where people are blatantly flouting the law, and indeed making the law out to be an ass-or else, what is it there for? If this is done on a regular basis, it is not acceptable. As Ms Tucker has said, we must look at the reasons why. It is not so simple, and there are perhaps many approaches to dealing with the situation. I am pleased that Mr Stefaniak has brought this forward, and whatever figures they may be, if there are two breaches, it is one too many.
A community service order can be an effective method of punishment. It is one that works well for many people. However, I think we should be trying to work out ways in which we can make sure people are not placed in a system where they are going to breach because of other compounding problems. We must have a credible system-not one at which people thumb their noses. I call on people to support this today.
MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for Environment) (3.45): Mr Speaker, I seek leave to speak to the amendment.
MR STANHOPE: I wanted to respond and make a couple of points in relation to community service orders that I think are relevant. It is important that we have a broad array of sentencing options available, and it is a stratagem we are pursuing. It is possible for the courts to have an array of alternative sentences or orders when somebody comes before them.
This has been touched on by members, but I make the point that it should not necessarily be assumed that a higher rather than lower breach rate is necessarily a sign of failure. You know, there is a whole range of circumstances. Ms Tucker touched on some of the reasons why people breach their CSOs.
The community service order arrangements require that, when a breach occurs, it be notified and breach action commenced-that is immediately a community service order is violated. It is a hard and fast arrangement or system where, if a community service order is violated, a breach is recorded and reported almost as a matter of course.
That does not necessarily mean that the community service order system is not working. There is an array of circumstances. Life is complicated and difficult. Each of us, in our own way, face a whole array or arrangement of circumstances and factors in our day-to-day lives. I made the point, as did Mr Stefaniak, that the breach rate when he was Attorney-General was much higher than it is now.