Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 13 Hansard (26 November) . . Page.. 4730 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
Once again, it is the Liberal Party saying, "Look, you can't trust your courts; you can't trust your magistrates; you can't trust your judges; they're not to be trusted; we've got to impose a regime of minimum sentences here in the ACT."It is standard minimum sentencing. It is a euphemism for mandatory sentencing and it should be opposed by every thinking person.
By way of example, the bill sets a standard, non-parole period of two years jail for any offender convicted of burglary if the offender has been convicted of a burglary offence in the previous five years. That is a mandatory sentence of two years in that circumstance, and it should be opposed at all costs. It fails to acknowledge the complexities of sentencing; it is so simplistic; it doesn't acknowledge all of the range of factors that a court must take into account; it doesn't acknowledge the complexity of sentencing; and it will probably deter courts from imposing sentences of imprisonment at all because they know the long-term or the down-the-track effect.
It will probably rebound on the law and order merchants, the lock 'em up merchants, we have here. You impose these minimum standard sentences; you impose a two-year mandatory sentence for burglary in these circumstances. You know what some magistrates will do; they won't sentence at all. And it fails to take into account the jurisdictional limits of the Magistrates Court in any event.
This government has confidence in the judiciary; the Liberals obviously don't. You should trust your courts, your judges and your magistrates.
MR SPEAKER: The member's time has expired.
MS TUCKER (8.12): The Greens will not be supporting this legislation either. I have to say that I was very impressed by the Labor government, and Jon Stanhope in particular, in terms of his approach to the question of justice in the ACT. I know that he is actually standing out amongst other state and federal leaders, I would suggest, in his response to the very pressured area of how we deal with crime in our society.
The work I have done in the Health Committee, and the education committee previously, that has touched on this area, has always been informed by experts in the field, such as the Institute of Criminology and academics who talk about this notion of restorative justice. I wasn't even particularly familiar with what that was until we did that work. It was so obviously impressive, intelligent, productive and constructive in terms of how you approach the problem of crime in your society.
I hear Mr Pratt, Mr Stefaniak and Mrs Burke kind of ranting or chanting-more like a chant. Mr Pratt's interjections are more like a chant; he just keeps saying the same thing over and over again, which is "protecting the community, protecting the community, protecting the community". So Mr Pratt is trying to introduce into this debate, through his loud interjections, the notion of protecting the community, as if in some way-
Mr Pratt: It is more colourful than your contribution.