Page 4096 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 15 November 2005

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What is different about this bill and the two government bills is its specific focus on the period of imprisonment for specific crimes and, as such, it brings into question the values of the parties in this house, what they consider to be fair and what they consider to be the most effective means of minimising criminal behaviours. The Greens’ approach to that is very different from that of the big “L” Liberal Party.

The Greens see much criminal behaviour as indicative of society’s failure to care for all its members and we are much more interested in seeing more effort being directed at crime prevention strategies, including reintegration and rehabilitation measures, support for families, and early intervention in child abuse, rather than more punitive and revenge motivated penalties. We believe that community policing would be much more effective in creating a safer community than increased penalties.

Crime prevention is best achieved by fostering a real sense of community, by reducing poverty, by overcoming disadvantage, drug and alcohol abuse, and by addressing the causes of violence and abuse. Adequately funded community services and public health facilities, employment and a healthy involved society are key prerequisites for reducing crime.

It would have been helpful if an explanatory statement had been provided with this bill as there appear to be discrepancies between the tabling statement and the bill itself, as well as a number of unexplained amendments to the Crime (Sentencing) Bill. I would also have liked to have seen an illustration of the research and evidence behind this bill and the Crimes (Sentencing) Bill amendments as I am very concerned that there is little to back it up or prove its effectiveness.

I would like to see hard evidence for the claims that increased sentences lead to changed behaviour for the better or for a safer community. Mr Stefaniak, in his speech earlier today, continually cited New South Wales’s tough on crime approach with minimum sentences. The proof of such an approach would be rehabilitated offenders and a reduction in crime. I heard no such evidence in Mr Stefaniak’s speech.

I will not be supporting his bill as I would prefer to see greater emphasis in our community placed on addressing the reasons and causes for criminal behaviour, rather than ever more punitive measures which reduce the capacity of judges and magistrates to adjust the punishment to fit the crime and to improve an offender’s chances of rehabilitation. The rationale behind sentencing decisions must extent beyond retribution. As any good firefighter knows, fires are best fought by directing one’s efforts to the base of the flames or, better still, removing the source of ignition.

MR PRATT (Brindabella) (11.22): Mr Speaker, I stand to speak essentially about the impacts of the government’s bill on policing and to support Mr Stefaniak’s amendment bill, which I think would add some substance to the government’s bill. I support the government’s bill in general. Clearly, it is aimed at strengthening existing protocols. But I think that it omits a number of very significant matters, particularly those relating to the support that government must be giving ACT Policing. Consequently, I do commend Mr Stefaniak’s bill.

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