Page 5358 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 16 November 2011

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Clause 5 negatived.

Clause 6.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development, Minister for Territory and Municipal Services and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (11.05): I move amendment No 3 circulated in my name [see schedule 1 at page 5490].

This clause raises the maximum penalty for aggravated manslaughter from 26 to 30 years. The government is proposing to change that to 28 years. The government’s Crimes (Certain Penalty Increases) Amendment Bill 2011 retained aggravated versions of the five offences it affected but did not increase the maximum penalties available for those aggravated offences. This is a point that is missed in the debate by those opposite. The government maintained the aggravated offences, but because the sentencing range was changed, there was no need for a specific sentence for those aggravated offences.

The government’s reasoning for that was that the proposed maximum penalties provided by the bill were sufficient to account for the aggravated forms of those offences. The government still believes it is not necessary to add a penalty loading to punish aggravated offences. However, in the interests of meeting its commitment to reform the maximum penalties for certain serious offences against a person, the government is willing to support a reduced penalty loading for the aggravated forms of offences affected by Mrs Dunne’s bill.

This is a point that also needs to be made in this debate: Mrs Dunne has a particular model around how she believes sentences should be weighted as they compare to different offences. The government has another model. We are having to compromise on these issues. In compromising on these issues, there will inevitably be some hybrid of those two models coming together. Mrs Dunne can claim inconsistency, but it is inconsistency based on a model which the Assembly as a whole is not prepared to support. So we need to compromise, and that is what is occurring today. The maximum penalty of 28 years for this offence is consistent with the approach the government has adopted previously, and I commend the amendment to the Assembly.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (11.07): I was somewhat surprised at the government’s suggestion that they should increase the aggravated offence to 28 years, but I am grateful for it. I think it is a step in the right direction, and we will be supporting this. However, as I have said before, when we get further into it, we will see some inconsistencies brought up, which are not about the model. We disagree wholeheartedly with the government’s model, which wound into one penalty the penalties for aggravated offences and the simple penalties. We disagreed with it for two reasons, the first being the in-principle one—you effectively create an automatic discount. The other one was that it was inconsistently applied across the Crimes Act. We need to keep our statute book consistent, and the government was moving away from this.

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