Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 14 Hansard (Tuesday, 22 November 2005) . . Page.. 4383 ..
just seems to have absolutely offensive behaviour towards the whole proceedings and the reason why they are in court,” surely that is a very good reason for an increase in the sentence.
To enable appalling behaviour in court—and I have seen it on occasions—I think simply brings the system into contempt; it is a mockery of the system and leaves everyone with a sour taste in their mouths. I believe a provision like that, which precludes a court from taking an offender’s behaviour into account, is not in the interests of justice. Victims will go away shaking their heads. It is contemptuous towards the police who brought the offender there and it is also contemptuous of the court itself. It takes away from the dignity of the court and the whole proceedings, which are basically to ensure that justice is done.
If an offender’s behaviour is bad in court, that should be a relevant circumstance when imposing a sentence or, on this occasion, increasing the severity of the sentence. That to me is the most glaring example. Even if the government did not particularly want to follow subclause (d), subclause (e) is certainly something that happens much more often than people commit perjury. When it happens it is often quite stark and quite disturbing. For that to be highlighted here as an irrelevant consideration is not in the best interests of justice. It is just plain wrong.
DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (10.38): As previously outlined, I cannot agree to the Liberals’ proposed change of language in this bill in order to support a tough-on-crime stance. Paradoxically, this tough-on-crime posturing is often counterproductive and can lead to the entrenching and reinforcement of criminal behaviour. A criminal conviction can do this by stigmatising a first-time offender, jeopardising their chances of finding employment and alienating an offender from the community that we would prefer them to reintegrate with.
A tough-on-crime stance that leads to a jail term being imposed by taking away the option of a non-custodial sentence will introduce an offender to the broader criminal community and to criminal values they are sure to experience if sent to jail. Politicians should not be trying to muscle into the realm of individual sentencing decisions. Canberra Times polling results should not be the foundation on which to construct sentencing policies. The judge or magistrate will have heard all the available evidence and arguments and will have observed the offender in person over the course of the trial. They will know the prior history of the offender and they have the opportunity to ask their own questions of the offender. They are in an infinitely better position to decide on the most appropriate response to antisocial behaviour than populist politicians, media owners, editors or right-wing talk show hosts.
MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Arts, Heritage and Indigenous Affairs) (10.40): Mr Speaker, in outlining his proposed amendments Nos 13 to 16, Mr Stefaniak has pointed out that proposed amendment 13 is consequential to the extent that it proposes to remove the adverb “how” from the phrase “in deciding how to sentence an offender”. We discussed those issues at some length when we last met and debated earlier provisions within this legislation.