Page 4089 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 15 November 2005
someone is sick they certainly cannot attend but that is regarded as a breach—but some are more substantive. Community service is a privilege, not a right. It is an alternative to imprisonment and people on it need to honour the detention orders. I think there is still a lot more to be done in respect of breaches of those orders.
I am pleased to see that the government has included in this bill some of the very sensible provisions made in a corrections bill the opposition put before the Assembly last year. In fact, my colleague Mr Smyth, who then had responsibility for corrections, put those provisions before the Assembly. We have no problem with that. We do not mind anyone plagiarising any good stuff we put out. It is good to see a lot of that in this bill, but a couple of provisions were not taken up by the government in its consolidated approach. I will be moving those when we come to the detail stage of the Crimes (Sentencing) Bill.
Combination sentences have considerable merit. For example, someone sentenced to a term of imprisonment serves two years. They might then be ordered to do one year of periodic detention and then placed on, say, a two-year good behaviour bond with some community service conditions attached. That is, I think, a good step to ensure that sentences are tailored to suit the offence and indeed tailored to suit the needs of the offender. That is a good innovation that I am glad to see has been taken up.
I note that the new bill deals with good behaviour bonds and suchlike—section 403 of the Crimes Act. One of the criticisms of sentencing we often hear is that criminals or people who get bonds do not have regard for the bonds and basically say, “I got off.” You often need something more attached to it, be it a community service order or a fine. In New South Wales, where I started practising law, I found that for not-so-serious offences fines are often an excellent way to bring home to the person the fact that that type of conduct is not acceptable. At times the people did not have much ability to pay, but at least they seemed to accept that they had to pay the impost. I often found that to be a very good way of bringing home to them the fact that it is not sensible to continue down the same path, committing offences like that.
From experience and practice, perhaps the courts here in the ACT do not appreciate the benefit of one of those tiers of sentencing—fines—which is at the lower end but nevertheless very important, certainly in respect of the criminal law. There are very big fines provided for traffic infringements and suchlike now, but fines are not used very much in sentencing for criminal offences. I suppose that is pretty hard to legislate for. I make those comments because I would encourage the courts to make more use of fines when looking at issues around whether someone should get a bond or not.
There are other new parts of the bill that also appear to have been taken up from what we suggested last year. Regarding non-association and place restriction orders, we feel that that is a good piece of legislation for the purpose of assisting victims and ensuring that the accused person sticks to the straight and narrow path. Strong orders like that play a very important part in the ultimate rehabilitation of an offender.
It is interesting to see that the government has now codified the Griffiths bond into deferred sentence orders. It is called the Griffiths bond in the ACT but around 20 years ago it was probably given the new name of the “Gallop bond” because Mr Justice Gallop used it quite often in drug matters. I remember acting in a number of drug matters where