Page 4106 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 15 November 2005
government opposes the amendment, essentially for the same reasons as expressed by Dr Foskey. Clause 10 empowers the court to sentence an offender convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment. It is the provision that empowers the court to impose a sentence of imprisonment. It is the provision with which Mr Stefaniak and the Liberal Party have some difficulty. It states:
The court may, by order, sentence the offender to imprisonment, for all or part of the term of the sentence, if the court is satisfied, having considered possible alternatives, that no other penalty is appropriate.
The provision requires the court to at least bend its mind to whether or not it has exhausted other possibilities. I think it is appropriate, in the context of a philosophy in relation to prison that sees imprisonment as a sentence of last resort, that the court be required to consider possible alternatives to imprisonment. That is all the provision requires. It is a provision that is quite consistent with this government’s attitude to sentencing. The government will not support the proposed amendment.
MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (11.58): I thank both the Chief Minister and Dr Foskey for their comments. I think the Chief Minister effectively has conceded that the court’s mind is going to be directed to something. That is my point. It actually does effect the discretion of the court. There are other parts of the legislation that direct the court’s mind to a lot of things. But a provision like this, in the view of the courts themselves and in the view of judicial officers, actually is a restriction on their imposing what they see as a proper sentence.
The attitude of both the Greens and the government is totally inconsistent with some of the criticisms they are levelling at some of my other amendments. I just make that point. I think Dr Foskey’s argument is inconsistent. My amendment is about discretion. It is not about taking away their discretion. It is to give them a discretion that they themselves have asked for on a number of occasions in the past.
Clause 10 agreed to.
Clauses 11 to 13, by leave, taken together and agreed to.
MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (12.00): I move amendment No 2 circulated in my name [see schedule 1 at page 4176].
The note on line 14 currently states:
Section 33 (1) (m) requires the court, in deciding how to sentence an offender, to consider the offender’s financial circumstances if relevant and known to the court.
My amendment is a consequential amendment to amendments I will be moving to section 33 of the act. I might as well refer to them now, Mr Speaker.