Page 5354 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 16 November 2011

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The approach adopted by this bill is to mirror sentencing laws in other jurisdictions. That is deemed to be an important factor as to why we need to increase the penalties in the ACT. The inherent danger in this approach is that the ACT is potentially unwittingly copying the results of simplistic tough on law and order campaigns from past state elections. We have all seen those, particularly in places like New South Wales.

To simply copy that, without acknowledging that that is how those penalties have got to where they have got to in many circumstances, is a bad result for the ACT. It reflects poorly on the law making in this place that we are prepared to take on board penalties that have been upped and upped through the course of a swaggering approach to an election campaign. We need to be able to think for ourselves; we need to perform a review of how our sentencing regime is performing and then make any necessary changes.

I will have some further comments to make when it comes to some of the amendments to the bill that are going to come forward, but in conclusion let me say that the Greens will not be supporting this bill, for the reasons I have outlined. It remains of deep concern to us that there is no evidence to support these proposed changes. We believe that a more considered approach to sentencing reform is what the ACT community deserves.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (10.49), in reply: I thank the government for their support of this bill and Mr Corbell for his cooperation and helpful discussions that will result in this bill passing today. I do not think this is about party politics; the decisions the Canberra Liberals made, as Mr Seselja said, in the last sitting period were because the bill brought forward by the Attorney-General was simply poor law. It created differential treatment across the statute book for aggravated offences and, in the cases of aggravated offences in the areas that we are discussing today, would have created an immediate discount.

For example, culpable driving causing death which was aggravated by the perpetrator knowing that the victim was pregnant would immediately be rolled into the maximum penalty, which means that if the victim was not pregnant there would always be an immediate discount on the maximum penalty. This was the reason the Canberra Liberals opposed the poor law that was introduced. In addition to that, there would be a differential way in which aggravated offences would be treated across the Crimes Act, which I think is unsuitable.

We are here today because of the issues raised by the Director of Public Prosecutions, as is his responsibility. He encountered problems in the appeal courts and he raised those matters with the attorney and me. Both the attorney and I took action in response to those. They were different actions; they sort of got to the same place but they got there by different means.

I will discuss a little later some of the issues, but there are a few things I have to put on the record up front. I am disappointed the government is not supporting the amendment in relation to increasing the penalty for manslaughter. I do not need to remind you, Madam Deputy Speaker, as you were a member of the tripartite

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