Wednesday 29 May 2013



Second Reading



Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, I am against the mandatory minimum penalties, particularly ones of this order because they take away the discretion of a court to consider all the circumstances of a case. Mandatory penalties are unfair and unjust, particularly in this case.

The discretion as to what penalty is to be imposed must always rest with the judiciary - I think, Mr President, you would agree with that - because the judiciary is trained to assess what penalties ought to be imposed, taking into account all the circumstances that surround a particular case - the seriousness of the offence, the age of the persons committing the offence, any mitigating facts. That is like the mental capacity, the weight of the burden on the offender, the offender's previous good character or prior convictions, and many other relevant factors that the judiciary is trained to assess. Parliament should never take away that judicial discretion.

When the original Nature Conservation Bill went through this House, I think it was in 2002, I was new here so I did not pick up on the fact –


Mr Valentine - We cannot blame you.


Mr FINCH - I hope you do not, but it did not ring any alarm bells at that time when the suggestion was made that the minimum penalty would be this draconian $26 000, or a minimum prison term of two years, and that is with just one animal for which an offence has been committed.


Dr Goodwin - A bit heavy-handed.


Mr FINCH - Yes, a bit heavy-handed. What if there were 10 animals, is that $260 000?


Mr Valentine - When it came in there may have been some real reason for that figure.


Mr FINCH - Yes, but I am thinking back to my days in the media that this would be a great news story.

I could not agree more with the government and I support this amendment bill.


Mr DEAN (Windermere) - Mr President, I, too, support this and I can say that in 2002 I was not here.

It brings back to me the statement I made yesterday that we get bills and legislation going through this place where we - and I include myself in this - do not always scrutinise it and understand the ramifications of the legislation that we pass. I gave some very good examples yesterday as to how it impacts on people without our knowledge and causes lots of problems in the workforce, and the area of building in particular.


You could probably bring a fox into this state for less than $26 000 at the present time. It is an offence and a penalty that you would never understand why it was put there in the first place or whether it was done mistakenly. I do not know. Those writing up the legislation and those who were here at the time would best be able to talk about that.


Mr Finch - It might have been that when you looked at 130 penalty units it might not have appeared.