Page 1653 - Week 05 - Thursday, 11 May 2006

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Sentencing Legislation Amendment Bill 2006

Debate resumed from 2 May 2006, on motion by Mr Stanhope:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (10.46): This is a mechanical bill that provides mechanical changes consequent upon the bills passed last year. We had a good old, ding-dong fight over consolidating sentencing laws under a number of statutes. It comes about as a result of the Crime (Sentencing) Act 2005 and the Crime (Sentence Administration) Act 2005 passed last year and due to take effect on 1 June. It is mechanical in nature. It provides consequential amendments for these laws, repeals old laws and updates references in the ACT statute book. To ensure that it starts on 1 June, it needs to be passed today. We do not have a problem with it.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (10.47): I support the Sentencing Legislation Amendment Bill 2006, which is one of the last steps in implementing a consolidated, modernised and flexible legislative approach to sentencing. I understand that the ACT government intends to debate the corrections management bill 2006 in the spring sittings and that this, if passed, will work in conjunction with our new sentencing act. I see no issue with this bill, for it appears to be purely mechanical and will enable existing custodial laws to apply until the corrections management bill has been passed and commenced, assuming that the latter two do occur.

I am pleased to note from the Attorney-General’s tabling speech that the ACT government does not need to amend any legislation to ensure that prisoners in the ACT have the right to vote in ACT elections. I agree with this statement. Allowing prisoners to vote in ACT elections contributes to rehabilitation rather than deters it. Despite being locked away, they are still a part of the community and government policies can severely affect their lives. Alienating them further would do little to encourage their rehabilitation and their work towards becoming responsible and contributing citizens.

I recognise that the Sentencing Legislation Amendment Bill does not introduce any new policy. However, my office picked up, during the November debate, some small failings in our sentencing regime that could not be amended until now due to the contents of the bill. The ACT Greens are concerned about the court’s ability to convert a fine to imprisonment if the fine is defaulted upon by the convicted person. There appears to be limited or no ability to convert a fine to community service work. I will therefore be moving an amendment in the detail stage to deal with this problem.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for Planning) (10.49): I thank members for their support. The passage of the Sentencing Legislation Amendment Bill will complete the technical steps needed to enable the government’s new sentencing laws to commence. The extent of the technical tasks requires the repeal of 12 existing acts and the amendment of 39 other acts. The number of acts affected shows the important role sentencing plays in the territory’s laws.

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