Page 3247 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 17 September 2013
The new section clarifies that the power is not intended to limit the operation of existing sections 35 and 36 which allow for reduced sentences in certain circumstances. While a plea of guilty or assistance provided to law enforcement agencies can be considered to meet the requirements of facilitating the administration of justice, the new section is designed to provide that other, further actions are required to trigger the reduction under the new section.
The amendments also require the court to give a statement if it imposes a lesser penalty for an offence under the new power. The court must state the penalty it would have imposed and the reasons for the imposition of the lesser penalty. This will ensure dual visibility of reductions: firstly, to ensure that the community are able to satisfy themselves that sentences continue to reflect the seriousness of the offence and, secondly, to ensure that defence counsel can advise their clients of the benefits of pre-trial and trial cooperation which ultimately may facilitate greater efficiency in cases before the courts.
As I have previously indicated, these amendments were suggested by former Chief Justice Higgins. I thank him for his contribution and hope that these amendments will serve as a further reminder of his contribution to the law.
As I mentioned earlier, the government will be moving amendments to the bill. The amendments are necessary to enable greater clarity within the act. They will provide a more transparent way for the courts to apply the discretionary discount on sentencing and make our legislation consistent with New South Wales provisions, which has been considered as an ideal model. The amendments seek to repeal section 33(1)(k), which deals with pre-trial disclosures, and insert reference to the assistance with the administration of justice. The new section 35A specifically references pre-trial disclosures as falling under the head of “administration of justice”.
These amendments will ensure that sentencing discounts are consistent so that offenders are eligible for discounts for assistance in the administration of justice that occurs throughout the criminal justice process. The reforms in the bill represent the government’s commitment to improving access to justice for our community. I commend the bill to the Assembly.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill agreed to in principle.
Bill, by leave, taken as a whole.
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) (12.03), by leave: I move amendments Nos 1 and 2 circulated in my name and table a supplementary explanatory statement to the government amendments. [see schedule 1 at page 3304].