Page 5390 - Week 14 - Thursday, 30 November 2017

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

This bill also makes amendments to section 34 of the Crimes (Sentencing) Act 2005 to implement the recommendations of the royal commission to exclude good character as a mitigating factor in sentencing for child sexual abuse offences where that good character facilitated the offending. Often, and particularly in institutional settings, the good character of the offenders and the position of trust and authority that they hold allow them to perpetrate child exploitation and groom other adults to facilitate access to children.

This amendment will still operate in accordance with section 33 of the Crimes (Sentencing) Act, which sets out relevant sentencing considerations, which means that an offender’s good character can still be taken into consideration by a sentencing court when assessing factors such as the offender’s prospects of rehabilitation or reoffending.

The second set of amendments in the bill that I will discuss focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth justice. The amendments to the Magistrates Court Act 1930 expand the jurisdiction of the Children’s Court so that circle sentencing can occur for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the criminal justice system. Currently, children are precluded from appearing before the Galambany court. The new court is called the Warrumbul court, which is the Ngunnawal word for “youth”.

Allowing the specialist circle sentencing process to apply to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children will give the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community an opportunity to work collaboratively with the ACT criminal justice system to address over-representation issues and offending behaviour. Legal Aid ACT and the Magistrates Court in particular were strongly supportive of this proposal going forward, and I thank them for their contribution.

The last set of amendments in this bill are direct responses to court outcomes. An important part of this bill, and an important role of the Attorney-General, is to respond to judicial decisions. The High Court recently ruled that an attempted kidnapping organised out of the Alexander Maconochie Centre was technically not illegal because the offender attempted to hire another person to undertake the kidnapping. That person did not ultimately go through with the crime, but this is clearly behaviour that the community expects to be criminalised. That case, Holliday v the Queen, highlighted a clear gap in the ACT’s Criminal Code. The bill amends the Criminal Code to correct the issue.

This bill also responds to issues raised in our courts about the way court sentences interact with parole orders. In the case of Peter v Wade of 2017, Chief Justice Murrell of the Supreme Court stated that where a good behaviour order runs concurrently with a parole order, there is potential for “… conflict between decisions made by the executive and the judiciary”. This can lead to confusion and inefficiency in the sentence administration process.

Breaches of these orders are dealt with by different bodies. Parole orders are addressed by the Sentence Administration Board, whereas breaches of a good behaviour order are dealt with by the court. Further, an offender may be subject to two

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video