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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 5110 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

ideas put forward by the opposition. I hope the Chief Minister takes on board some of the things that are being said in today's debate. When he looks into the sentencing of people with distinct needs, I hope he includes the recognition of mental illness and the specific recognition of indigenous offenders and makes sure that there is funding for sentencing caseworkers so they don't go the way of legal aid.

I note the concerns that Mr Smyth raised in his opening remarks about the need for a prison in the ACT for his reforms to work properly. I have concerns about the type of correction legislation and policy we have, because when and if a prison is built in the ACT that will dictate what sort of prison we have. I hope the Chief Minister will put forward his corrections reform in a timely way so we have time to fully consider it and debate it before we have the debate about what kind of prison we're having. These things need to happen in tandem and we can't put-to use the old saying-the cart before the horse. The more options we give to magistrates and judges, the better outcomes we may achieve in trying to rehabilitate offenders. This is an important part of the legislation put forward today. Magistrates and judges are not restricted or compelled to set certain sentences but are given a range of options and examples that would allow sentences to be tailored to individuals rather than a one-size-fits-all criminal justice approach. Again, I hope this is something that the Chief Minister is carefully examining with his legislation.

This bill is not 100 per cent perfect, but it is a significant step forward and gives us the opportunity to improve sentencing. Hopefully, it will reduce the ACT criminal population and give us a framework to debate worthwhile improvements and rehabilitation programs. After the government's current trial of circle sentencing, we could even include that in the sentencing options in the legislation. Given that the government is opposing this bill, I don't think it will get past the in-principle debate today. I hope the government looks at all the things that have been put forward today-by this bill and in the debate-and includes them in its legislation. I am disappointed that the government is just trying to shut down this debate and is not giving us the opportunity to move amendments to try to improve the legislation. I hope that early next year means early next year, and we see the government's ideas for corrections reform as soon as possible, so we can actually move forward with corrections reform and put the emphasis on prevention and rehabilitation.

MS TUCKER (3.54): This bill is intended to be a step towards a more responsive system of sentencing and I will be supporting it in principle. I thought it was going to be adjourned, although Ms Dundas doesn't seem to think it is.

Ms Dundas: No, I thought it was going to go down. If it's adjourned, that's even better.

MS TUCKER: I thought we were going to adjourn it. Anyway, hopefully it will be adjourned. It depends on Mrs Cross, because the opposition wants it to be adjourned too. I would prefer to adjourn debate after the in-principle stage, so that the details can be finessed. I understand Mr Smyth's office has had some feedback with suggested changes and that it is happy to adjourn at that point. There are some positive changes here and some I have concerns about. The government is currently working through a sentencing review process. The discussion paper doesn't go into enough detail to see whether that work will cover or is covering the same issues that are in this bill. Nonetheless, I'm interested to hear from the government where its process is up to. I would prefer to

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