Page 4130 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 21 September 2011

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I do hope he can reconsider because there are a couple of important points to put on the record about that review he refers to. Firstly, that review stemmed out of an election promise in 2001 from the ALP to review sentencing procedures and the criteria used by judges when sentencing. In fulfilment of this promise the government established a sentencing review in 2002 which reported in 2004.

The review was asked to look at three things: first, to consider expanding the number of non-custodial sentencing options in the ACT; second, to assess sentencing options for specific offender groups such as the elderly or chronically sick; and, third, in light of the first and second points, to make recommendations about the consolidation of relevant legislation.

The result of the review was the consolidation of 12 separate pieces of legislation into the Crimes (Sentencing) Act and the Crimes (Sentence Administration) Act, both of 2005. So the review essentially looked at non-custodial options and consolidated the law. These are good things to have happened; no doubt about that. But I make the point that the review proposed in our bill is more broad and far reaching. As I have already set out, it is a review that gathers data on how well sentences are working in meeting the objectives, not just a desktop-based approach to reviewing what options are available to courts.

Before I conclude I would like to set out exactly what the bill will do. It is a relatively simple bill with two provisions. The first provision will require the government to report annually on rates of reoffending in the ACT. We know that the government is already preparing this and the provision is intended to simply capture the government’s existing intent.

Reoffending data is a critical indicator of how well our sentencing regime is operating. If there are high rates of reoffending this would indicate that sentences are neither deterring offenders nor rehabilitating. In contrast, a low rate of reoffending would suggest that sentences are having the desired effect. I certainly look forward to the Assembly having the benefit of annually reported data on reoffending rates.

The second provision of the bill is to require that the government undertake a six-year review of the Crimes (Sentencing) Act 2005. Review clauses themselves are certainly not unheard of in the ACT, especially for new pieces of legislation. Of course, while I was not in the Assembly five years ago, I am somewhat surprised that a review clause was not included back then. I am sure it perhaps crossed the mind of some members of the Assembly.

There are 14 current acts that have review clauses in them. They range from being three-year reviews to five-year review clauses. So in proposing a six-year review we are hardly being onerous. Review clauses give the government and the Assembly the opportunity to measure how a new piece of legislation is operating and to consider any further improvements that are necessary.

Turning to the review itself, the bill requires that the review look at four things: firstly, how well sentences imposed in the ACT are achieving the purposes of sentencing as

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