Wednesday, 15 March 2017
Hansard of the Legislative Council
SENTENCING AMENDMENT (FINES WITHOUT RECORDING
CONVICTIONS) BILL 2016 (No. 59)
Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, a record of a conviction for a minor misdemeanour, such as an unpaid parking fine, can have a disproportionate effect on the ability of a person to advance their career, or to obtain a visa to enter another country. This is grossly unfair. I applaud any legislation that adds to the options open to a court to alleviate the burden placed on a defendant found guilty of a minor breach of the law. A prospective employer will not go behind the record to ascertain the minor nature of the offence, nor will an authority in another country go behind the record when determining the eligibility of a traveller entering their country.
The payment of a fine is ample punishment for a minor misdemeanour, without that lifelong burden of a record of conviction. There will be legal argument as to whether the legislation only applies when there are several charges of a similar nature in one complaint, and not to the situation when another minor breach is alleged in a further incident. The wording of the new section 42B(2) indicates that the further offence must be against the same or similar provision as the first offence, whether on the same day or a subsequent day.
The provisions of the bill will not be a major amendment to the powers of the court to punish offences, but will go some way to lessen the burden placed on the defendant found guilty of a minor offence or offences. I support the bill.