Page 2503 - Week 08 - Thursday, 30 June 2005

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The bill consolidates and simplifies ACT Corrective Services’ powers to manage the logistics of a corrections system. It is the government’s intention that this bill will provide corrections officers with greater certainty about their powers. The bill will also reduce the amount of time corrections officers currently waste checking or reconciling various laws. More time will be available to assist in the rehabilitation of offenders and the prevention of further crime. The bill restates existing provisions dealing with the interstate transfer of prisoners, the international transfer of prisoners and the interstate transfer of community-based sentences. The language is modernised, but the substance remains the same as the existing national schemes.

The bill’s preamble is an expression of the fact that the executive arm of government does not have unlimited power in managing the sentence of convicted offenders or the remand of alleged offenders. In order to maintain the community’s confidence in the criminal justice system, the government is bound to ensure that people found guilty of breaking the law are themselves treated lawfully. The rule of law and the protection of human rights are inseparably linked.

As with the limitation on government power, the rights of an individual are also limited within the context of a community. The rights of an individual and the interests of the community are sometimes in harmony and sometimes in conflict. Few rights are absolute and, within defined boundaries, certain limits placed on rights are necessary as part of balancing competing needs. The ACT’s Human Rights Act protects fundamental rights. Limits on these rights are permissible only if the limit is authorised by a territory law, is reasonable and demonstrably justifiable in a democratic society.

The preamble also refers to key principles that may assist in determining the boundaries between lawful administration of sentences and unlawful treatment of offenders and alleged offenders. Conversely, the government considers the bill’s provisions that are directive to offenders’ obligations to be consistent with the principles expressed in the preamble. The limitation that would be imposed upon offenders as a consequence of their sentence is, in the government’s view, reasonable and justifiable in our democratic society.

Finally I would like to note for members’ information that I intend to introduce a third bill this year to provide for imprisonment and remand. This third bill will set out the powers and functions of the prison, the remand centres and the periodic detention centre. Once introduced, and if enacted by the Assembly, the three bills will be the body of ACT law that covers sentencing, from conviction to the fulfilment of a sentence. This is the second bill in a trilogy of sentencing bills and culminates three years of consultation, research and innovation, for which I thank the department of justice. I commend this bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Stefaniak) adjourned to the next sitting.

Justice and Community Safety Legislation Amendment Bill 2005 (No 2)

Mr Stanhope, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

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