Page 2771 - Week 09 - Thursday, 8 August 2013
Where does that leave us? On the one hand, there is an option where the government could be making more frequent updates to this based on CPI so that, I guess, the price of justice keeps the same in real terms; or there is the option of every four years, which might be simpler to administer. What I do notice is that there is a review into sentencing practices in the ACT currently occurring. I will quote what you, Mr Assistant Speaker, as committee chair, said in announcing the inquiry:
Sentencing is an issue which cuts across the justice system, and this gives the committee a chance to take a snapshot of the system as a whole.
That review has unanimous support across this place. Financial penalties are an integral part of the justice system with regard to sentencing and quite properly then should be integral to the committee’s review. We do know that the government has sat on its hands over the last 12 years in relation to sentencing, penalties and the like and that this is a reactive approach that the government is taking. The fact that the government has proposed this to be every four years indicates that there is obviously no degree of urgency. I think the fact that since 2001 we have only seen one review, in 2009, makes it difficult to see that in terms of justice there is any great urgency for these penalty units to be adjusted.
As I foreshadowed, I will be moving that this matter be referred to the JACS committee. But sadly I do not think that that will have the support of the government, because they have embedded these new fees and charges—the new penalty amounts—in the budget. They need the cash. I think there is no doubt that this is a government that is scratching around for cash to pay for projects like light rail. I think that this is an opportunity missed. I think it is something the government should have considered. It is something they should have incorporated within the review that is being done by the committee.
As we have seen from the disdain with which they treat committees in this place in respect of the way they are structured, again we see an issue where a committee has been given a job to do and the government is essentially just going to ignore the committee and barge ahead anyway because it needs the money to fill up its budget. I now move:
That the Legislation (Penalty Units) Amendment Bill 2013 be referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety.
MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations and Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development) (5.25): The government will not be supporting this proposed referral by Mr Hanson. There is no real justification for such a referral. This bill provides for a review mechanism of the penalty unit regime. That is a similar review mechanism to that which has recently been adopted, for example, by the commonwealth.
It is not the case to suggest that there is no urgency at all to this bill. The government has projected revenue in the budget based upon the revised penalty units regime. Any