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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (7 May) . . Page.. 1657 ..

MR STEFANIAK: It is certainly not mandatory sentencing.

Mr Stanhope: Mandatory sentencing.

MR SPEAKER: Order, Mr Stefaniak! Direct your remarks through the chair.

MR STEFANIAK: I will, Mr Speaker. Clearly, he has either not read it or the Chief Minister needs to have a look at what mandatory sentencing actually is, and get his facts right in that regard.

We are certainly going to disagree about that but, had you been listening to my comments in relation to community services orders-one, they are a viable sentencing option; and two, in many instances they work and work very well. And yes-it is quite likely that quite a number of people who have completed them do not reoffend.

I know several people who have done community service orders who have not reoffended, to my knowledge, and I doubt that they would. So community services orders can be very effective. They are an effective, reasonable sentencing option.

Nevertheless, there are concerns when they are breached-like your concerns when defendants breach other types of orders-and it is important that appropriate action is taken. Sometimes that might not be much action at all, if the breach is technical. However, at other times there may well be a need for stronger action to be taken, especially in the case of orders such as these. In the way they are administered and the way they work, I think it is important to constantly ensure that systems are in place to minimise breaches.

It appears that steps have been taken by the department and are showing signs of working. They are to be applauded for that. I hope to keep monitoring this to see that these downward trends continue, because that is what the community expects to see.

Accepting what you have put on the table, I congratulate the department for achieving this reduction so far. There is a lot more work to do. Your sentencing review is taking an inordinate amount of time, although I note your comment about the department being busy. I hope that, with the review into those non-custodial options, any further improvements that can be identified will be put into practice by the relevant authorities. In that way, hopefully we will see further improvements in this very important area on this significant sentencing option which, when used properly, works very well for society and for individual defendants.

Motion, as amended, agreed to.

Wood-burning heaters

Ordered that order of the day No 6, private members business, be postponed to the next sitting.

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