Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 13 Hansard (27 November) . . Page.. 4899 ..
MS TUCKER (9.35): This is a very unusual amendment from the Liberals. They want to reduce the length of a maximum prison sentence, and I am delighted to support them. It is so good to see them taking this sort of very sensible approach.
I understand the arguments that have been put by the government-that they are anticipating the fact that the Criminal Code which came into effect this year will increase the other penalty. I agree that it does not seem particularly equitable to have two different penalties, even if it is for a year. I am expecting that the Liberals will vote with Labor next year to make the maximum penalty 25 years anyway, but for the moment I will support Mr Pratt.
MS DUNDAS (9.36): Bearing in mind what has been said in the debates that have taken place in the Assembly about the lengthening of sentences, the ACT Democrats will also be supporting the amendments in regard to industrial manslaughter. The minister has explained that 25 years was picked because that is the maximum penalty recommended in the model criminal code. We have already raised in this house problems with the model criminal code, how we need to think about what is happening here in the territory, and how it fits in with the rest of the territory legislation.
The offence of industrial manslaughter will now be on the books. That is a good thing, but let us not go overboard. Let us look at how it fits in with the rest of the offences in the ACT. We can consider this matter when we come back in 2004 and look at what punishments we put on fatal offences.
MRS CROSS (9.37): I will also be supporting Mr Pratt's amendments. Given last night's debate and the result, I think I echo the sentiments of my crossbench colleagues Ms Tucker and Ms Dundas. I think it is in order that we bring the terms into line.
MR STEFANIAK (9.37): I think this is probably the first time I have ever risen in this place to suggest we reduce a penalty. But quite clearly-and I think the crossbenchers have explained the situation very well-there is a need to be consistent. It would be almost a form of legal apartheid to have two different penalties for effectively the same offence.
I am a bit disappointed with the government. Three or four months ago I suggested to them that if there was only one thing they felt they could vote for in my very sensible bill-the bill that they defeated last night-they should bring the maximum penalty for manslaughter into line with everywhere else in the country and with what we are going to ultimately have in the Criminal Code, and that is 25 years. The government did not do this. Accordingly, as Mr Pratt most capably stated, manslaughter, under section 15, remains at 20 years. Until such time as the code is reviewed, when we can look at upping it again, the maximum penalty here should be 20 years as well.
Amendments agreed to.
MS GALLAGHER (Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services, Minister for Women and Minister for Industrial Relations) (9.39): I move amendment No 2 circulated in my name [see schedule 1 at page 4919].