Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 13 Hansard (Tuesday, 15 November 2005) . . Page.. 4093 ..
That alleviates the need for me to speak in closing debate on my own bill. However, it shows up what the government’s package lacks. I think it is important for this government to realise that a large number of Canberra citizens are not happy with weak sentences being imposed by courts, especially for crimes of violence. I remind you all again of the survey the Canberra Times did in late September 2003, where 83 per cent thought that our Supreme Court was far too lenient when it came to sentencing violent offenders; 12 per cent thought it was probably too lenient, and five per cent thought that it had got it about right. People were less concerned about property offences; they were concerned about violent offences. That is pretty horrendous.
Even today I saw an article in the paper—admittedly his own counsel said it was a cowardly act; he did not inflict any damage on the victim but the victim apparently ended up in hospital quite severely hurt—where a fellow was given just a bond. There was no further penalty. I am not suggesting the court should have jailed him or anything like that, but perhaps that could have been upped a bit—maybe a fine or a suspended sentence would have been more appropriate—because the community abhors violent offences. If you knock out the sensible measures put up by the opposition, as I know you will, you will be flying in the face of your responsibility to the community to have a sentencing regime that reflects proper, sensible community standards.
DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (11.09): I support the government’s Crimes (Sentencing) Bill and Crimes (Sentence Administration) Bill as they represent a consolidated, modernised and flexible approach to sentencing. Interested non-government organisations have shared with my office their general support for the Crimes (Sentencing) Bill as it will promote and allow for creativity in the formulation of the best sentencing package available to suit the community’s need and the needs of the individual.
The extension of the Griffiths remand option is an important tool being promoted in this case, as it can encourage rehabilitation of the offender by giving them an opportunity to address their behaviour before facing sentencing. Greater flexibility for community service orders is also an important tool to encourage the offender’s rehabilitation while benefiting the community. The extension of victim impact statements to close friends and relatives of the victim acknowledges the impact a crime can have on a small community and family and recognises the important support that these people provide for the victim.
I had three major concerns with the bill before us. The first was to do with the non-association and place restriction conditions. Some legal organisations raised with my office their concerns about these provisions on the basis that they have the ability to interfere with basic human rights and civil liberties. However, since these concerns were first raised with the ACT government earlier this year, the government has made a number of welcome changes to part 3.4 of the bill. I have been assured by departmental officers in briefings that the non-association and place restriction orders will now apply only to cases involving personal violence and that these orders must be reasonably proportionate to the gravity and nature of the behaviour under consideration.
In addition to these changes, ACT courts must interpret all laws in a manner consistent with human rights so far as it is possible to do so, thus diminishing the chance of individuals’ human rights and civil liberties being curtailed. I am now more confident