Thursday 30 November 2017
Hansard of the Legislative Council
(SENTENCES OF IMPRISONMENT) BILL 2017 (No. 54)
Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, I am not sure my contribution will give you too much clarity in respect of finding your way through this. I am still in a state of flux on this bill. In talking about accepting the suspension of Standing Orders to proceed with this yesterday, my advice, which I read into the Hansard, was that this bill requires a court, when imposing a further sentence of imprisonment on a person already serving a sentence of imprisonment with a right to parole attached, to attach a right to parole to that further sentence to make it clear when the paroles are to operate. The provisions of the bill, although somewhat confusing to read and understand, are appropriate.
That was the initial advice I received, along with an assessment of the various clauses. My adviser says 'somewhat confusing', and it is certainly for me. When I asked for a further assessment, the comment from my adviser was that the comments on Corrections Amendment (Prisoner Remission) Bill 2017 (No. 63) also apply to this bill. He drew a short bow with that bill, which we have not proceeded with. He has drawn a short bow between these bills, which are troubling to him. Overnight I asked for further assessment of this situation to give me some guidance as to where I might go in respect of this section of the debate.
That advice is that the taking away of provisions for parole is a trespass by parliament on the discretion of judges and so on. To remove eligibility for parole is an infringement on the discretion of the judiciary. It removes the discretion of the Director of Prisons and the Parole Board. Terminally ill prisoners are condemned to die in jail. There is no incentive for rehabilitation. The bill will accentuate overcrowding in the prison system. Younger prisoners will have no incentive to pursue educational or trade opportunities. There is virtually no incentive for a prisoner to change his ways. The movement of prisoners to outside hospital procedures will be prejudiced, as extra staff will be needed to guard those prisoners while in hospital. Mentally affected prisoners will not be able to be properly treated in prisons. To deny parole in this bill opens the door for other legislation denying parole or remissions.
That assessment is emotive and does mention other areas of implications for this bill. I have only had a short time to seek further advice, to get that advice and make sense of it. The way I am reading the circumstances I find myself in and advice given, I would be more likely to vote against this bill. However, like the member for Murchison and the member for Mersey, I will wait to see what others have to say.
An adjournment might assist me in giving me more time to assess the implications of this legislation because the legal advice I received is that there are further implications I have not had the chance to fully understand. I am listening.