Wednesday 11 November 2015
Hansard of the Legislative Council
COSTS OF CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS BILL 2015 (No. 46)
Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, the first thing we need to ask ourselves when considering a justice-related bill is, 'Will it deter the commission of crime?' In this case, the answer is an emphatic, 'No'.
In the second reading speech, there is an admission that this bill is revenue-raising legislation. In fact, the bill is mandatory sentencing by stealth. It infringes the judicial discretion of magistrates and judges. As people know from speeches I have made before about mandatory sentencing, I am opposed to it. It is integral to our justice system that the judiciary exercises discretion in imposing a sentence or a penalty. This bill takes away the judicial discretion as a penalty. Although the bill uses the word 'levy', it is a discriminatory tax imposed on those found guilty of an offence. The judicial discretion should not be subverted by requiring a magistrate or judge to impose the levy in every instance. The recording of the levy, even though the magistrate or judge has ordered no conviction is to be recorded - clause 5(4) states:
An offender levy specified in subsection (3) is a fixed dollar amount and not subject to the Fee Units Act 1997.
It seems to me that an offender, whatever the offence, pays the same fixed amount. Clause 5(8) states:
In determining the sentence to be imposed for an offence, a court must not take into account the potential liability of the offender being sentenced to pay the offender levy for that offence.
Another incidence where the judicial discretion to be exercised by a magistrate or judge is clearly limited. My strong reservations about this bill were shared. We have already heard mention of the email from the Australian Lawyers Alliance, which has circulated its view to members. If I had an earlier call, there were some choice quotes I had a list of that I would have used. I was looking forward to presenting them. You know what is in there. They have been talked about already in the second reading debate. They amplify my views about this process of mandatory sentencing. I agree with the views of the Australian Lawyers Alliance . I will not be supporting this bill in its present form.