Ms WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Deputy Speaker, the Greens will be opposing this politically motivated stunt. Its sole purpose is to make sure that the courts impose a heavier sentence than would be proper according to the justice of the case. It has no aim for deterrents or for making frontline staff safer
This bill represents the Attorney-General's increased attacks on every Tasmanian's right to receive a just sentence. Without blinking, Dr Goodwin is throwing her judicial discretion to the wind and is wantonly undermining the capacity of our otherwise just, fair and humane criminal justice system to do justice in individual cases. It is a mark of reckless disregard on her behalf for the operation of our criminal justice system in a civilised society and the history we have inherited and that it is our duty to uphold. The move shows just how much the Attorney- General is prepared to politicise our justice system in order to avoid scrutiny of this Government's policy failings, which have created exactly the situations that lead to assault on our frontline workers in the first instance.
The increasing attacks on emergency service workers, for instance, are a direct consequence of the Liberal's savage cuts to the public health system. We know that we are expecting the hospitals to spend $18.5 million less this year than they spent last year. Given the 5 per cent average increase in admissions year on year, not to mention hospitals inflation costs, it is not surprising that there are a lot of pressures on staff working in emergency departments, for example. Emergency department presentations have consistently increased every year. That is no surprise . How is this Government responding? In 2010-11 there were 143 864 ED presentations. The minister projected that there would be 159 793 people presenting to ED next year.
As I mentioned previously the emergency department at the RHH was built for a capacity of 40 000 people going through every year. At the moment, the estimate is it is closer to 60 000 people. There is a lot of pressure on our emergency departments. It is not improved by the bed block situation nor the lack of flow through in the hospitals. These things have an effect on our emergency workers. These are the people, the frontline workers, we are talking about here today.
When this health minister, for example, cuts 5.7 per cent out of the emergency department budget - $7 million this year - that has a real effect on people who are working on the frontline. Paramedics in this state will not quickly forget Minister Ferguson's antagonism that left them in limbo for four months and sparked low-level industrial action earlier this year.
Let us talk about support for frontline workers. The fact that the amendments we have today are politically motivated is highlighted by the uncoordinated consultation process with the frontline workers they were was supposed to be protecting. As the member for Franklin mentioned, our office was also contacted by a medical orderly who works in one of the state's largest hospitals. He called to discuss how they manage Code Black situations. Code Blacks involve violent situations with patients often being treated for drug use or who are having psychotic episodes. He made it clear that in just the last couple of months alone a number of his colleagues had taken time off work because of emotional stress and injury. He was upset that this legislation to implement mandatory sentencing for assaults against frontline workers did not include him and his colleagues. He was concerned about the discrimination. When we discussed the issue of mandatory sentences and explained why we do not support them, he agreed with us. He could see that point of view. He was concerned he was being left out by this Government and not acknowledged as a person who works in an industry that is subject to assault occurring. He was interested in getting some tangible support against increasing verbal assaults and increasing low-level physical assaults. They would not come under what this bill seeks to do. It would be people who stand there every day. There is increase in abuse. That is the sort of stuff that people are being confronted with every day in our emergency departments.
To give the Attorney-General the benefit of the doubt, the failure to include medical orderlies is part of the poor consultation process. This, again, indicates the 'tough on crime' rhetoric that this Government, and this Attorney-General, is pushing is about winning votes and not about caring about implementing policy. The fact the Attorney-General is likely to understand the offensive idea of mandatory sentences herself and understands the injustice they entail and the attack they make on the discretion of the judiciary makes her capitulation to the hard right of her party hard to understand. Dr Goodwin has a PhD in criminology and is embedded in the judiciary in this state. It makes it very difficult to understand what goes on in Cabinet. Let us just say she is supporting this Government's approach.
Our concerns with the bill are numerous. I will start with the obvious issues with mandatory minimum sentences that have been acknowledged by judges, state and national law societies, the Australian and Tasmanian Law Reform institutes and various bodies representing community legal centres. There was a comprehensive and unanimous voice, a resounding, deafening lack of support for what this Government proposes. Mandatory minimum sentences are an affront to the rule of law. The doctrine of the separation of powers vests in the judiciary the duty of deciding legal disputes and, in criminal law, to impose sentences. Trouble brews when parliament, which is tasked with making the law, attempts to intrude on the role of judges, a role parliament is not equipped to execute.
Australia's highest courts have emphatically criticised attempts by other parliaments around the country to remove or to fetter the discretion of the courts, particularly in relation to sentencing. [Bookmark: OLE_LINK49] Chief Justice Barwick, in Palling v Corfield, articulated these concerns. He noted it was:
[Bookmark: OLE_LINK50] Undesirable that the court should not have a discretion in the imposition of penalties and sentences, for circumstances alter cases and it is a traditional function of a court of justice to endeavour to make the punishment appropriate to the circumstances as well as to the nature of the crime.
[Bookmark: OLE_LINK51] Chief Justice Gibbs, in Sillary v The Queen, stated that even in the case of a most serious crime:
There may exist wide differences in the degree of culpability of particular offenders, so that in principle there is every reason for allowing a discretion for the judge at trial to impose an appropriate sentence, not exceeding the statutory maximum.
He went on to say:
Mandatory sentencing would lead to results that would be plainly unreasonable and unjust.
Chief Justice Spigelman has made a number of observations about mandatory sentencing including:
The preservation of a broad sentencing discretion is central to the ability of the criminal courts to ensure justice is done in all the extraordinary variety of circumstances of individual offences and individual offenders.
Ultimately justice requires the fair and equitable treatment of all individuals under the law. In the context of sentencing, this requires proper consideration of all circumstances of the offence and the offender to make sure consistent punishment is imposed - similar behaviour by similar people - rather than just for the offence for which an offender happens to have been convicted.
The only consistency Dr Goodwin's reform promises to deliver is to repeat injustice. This is highlighted in the situation of assaults on police and frontline workers where the individual circumstances are especially relevant during the sentencing process.
Our police, emergency services workers, medical orderlies, custodial offices and the many other frontline workers are held in very high esteem in this community. They take significant risks every day as they seek to serve the community. This includes, by the nature of their work, the requirement that they come into contact with people in traumatic circumstances. People who are stressed and in trauma can react unpredictably. For example, when someone a person loves, or if they have extreme emotional or physical pain, or physical injury from a serious accident, it is expected they would behave in an irrational and unpredictable way. It is not surprising that Ambulance Tasmania rejected mandatory minimum sentencing in the submission they made to the Sentencing Advisory Council. One of the key frontline organisations this Government is talking about rejected it.
They are of the view that mandatory sentences are not appropriate in relation to these offences. They recognise the reality of stress. They understand that good people can behave unpredictably, including violently, and out of character in extreme moments of crisis. As has been mentioned before by the member for Franklin, these are rarely premeditated situations, almost invariably not. There is no forethought, and Ambulance Tasmania would prefer each offence is dealt with in relation to its own unique circumstances by the courts.
The Attorney-General argues that her mandatory sentencing policy is required to deter offenders and operates to protect frontline workers. She makes this claim, despite the fact no evidence has ever been demonstrated that mandatory sentencing acts as a deterrent. The absurdity of the Attorney-General's claims are heightened with this bill, which deals with offences committed in the heat of the moment by people confronted with often terrifying circumstances.
Consider a person lying on the side of the road with shattered bones, having been flung from their car following an accident that resulted in the death of their child or another person they love. That person is not going to be weighing up the benefits and costs of every choice they make in order to maximise their personal advantage. They would be distraught and it is foreseeable that they might make incredibly poor decisions, lashing out at others who are only trying to help. When a person is suffering from a disorder or a mental illness they are also unlikely to make a rational, cost-benefit calculation before they commit an offence.
Logic dictates that a prescribed minimum mandatory sentence is the antithesis of a just sentence. If a court thinks a proper just sentence is the prescribed minimum or more, then the minimum prescribed penalty is unnecessary. It follows that the sole purpose of a prescribed minimum mandatory sentencing regime is to require a judge to impose a heavier sentence than is appropriate, in all circumstances of offending.
This attempt by the Attorney-General to prescribe minimum penalties that must be imposed for any serious offence before it has been committed, in contemplation, or presumably before it can be foreseen by this Parliament, and before all the facts and circumstances are known and without knowing anything of the offender. This attempt is a direct attack on Tasmanians' right to receive a just sentence. It is an affront to our justice system. The resulting unfairness and unequal treatment of Tasmanians under the law will lead to an erosion of public confidence in the integrity and the administration of justice in this state.
The Attorney-General should not be requiring the courts to act unfairly or unjustly. Tasmania's judges and prosecutors do not want to be Dr Goodwin's instruments of justice. Defence counsels do everything they can to prevent this injustice and the community do not want it in their name either.
The bill has its roots in the final report of the Sentencing Advisory Council on assaults on emergency service workers. It is absurd that the Attorney-General has pushed this bill forward, despite the introduction of Sentencing Advisory Council's unequivocal conclusion that it does not recommend mandatory minimum sentences.
The Advisory Council's report was produced in response to the Liberal's so called tough on crime election policy. Following the consultation, the Sentencing Advisory Council acknowledged the concerns of Ambulance Tasmania, which were that while there were very few serious assaults on emergency service workers, there is a concern about the increase in verbal and physical aggression and threatening behaviour that is being experienced and is reprehensible.
The Sentencing Advisory Council also acknowledged the concerns of the Department of Police and Emergency Management, that the Magistrate's Court does not treat assaults on police more seriously than common assaults. In relation to the Police and Emergency Services, the Sentencing Advisory Council concluded that further analysis suggested sentencing practices for an assault on a police officer were nearly double the sentencing for a common assault.
This shows that the court already treats assaults on police more seriously than they treat common assaults. The Sentencing Advisory Council still recommends legislative changes be made to further emphasise the seriousness of an assault on a police officer. My point, Mr Deputy Speaker, is the Sentencing Advisory Council has considered these matters in their context. They have not only chosen for a political stunt, picked winners and losers, or picked out the easy things that will make a media headline.
The Advisory Council swept aside Dr Goodwin's proposal to create a new, specific offence for an assault on an emergency service worker, including police officers. They noted the proposed new offence did not specifically address underlying concerns about sentencing practices for assaults on emergency workers.
They also stated that the Council did not recommend mandatory minimum sentences in that instance. Instead, they recommend a number of changes to the Police Offences Act, including increasing maximum penalties and broadening the charge of assault on a public officer to include emergency service workers.
The Attorney-General has shown contempt for the Sentencing Advisory Council. She has not taken any notice of the opinions they have presented . She has not adopted a single representation they have made. Instead, she has chosen to proceed with policies the Council had categorically rejected. Since then, the Sentencing Advisory Council has strengthened their opposition to mandatory sentencing even further, in reports they have produced since the one I refer to.
The introduction of mandatory minimum sentences for emergency workers shows how little the Attorney-General respects or considers the advice of Tasmania's peak sentencing body. I do not know why she has asked them to waste the time they have spent on writing such substantial and well considered reports, because she has paid no attention to them.
We do not have the numbers in this House to prevent this offensive bill going through. We hope that the other place will consider and recognise it for the dangerous bill it is, and have heard some of the points we have made.
I conclude by laying out some general arguments which are relevant in this instance that have been made by Nicholas Cowdery AM QC in his role as Director of Public Prosecutions in New South Wales. He was in that role intimately conscious of their consequences. They had a notorious series of violent cases in New South Wales that occasioned some mandatory sentencing. Bills went through their parliament and there was a range of responses in the community and the legal profession following that. Nicholas Cowdery made these points against mandatory sentencing.
First, judges are unable to apply the sentencing principles of proportionality, totality and imprisonment as a last resort. Second, mandatory penalties exclude the operation of judicial discretion and thereby prevent the court from being able to give proper consideration to the subjective circumstances surrounding the offender. That usually leads to an injustice. Penalties, especially for serious offences, must be tailored to fit the crime and the criminal. Justice must be individualised and penalties fixed in advance by parliament cannot achieve this.
Third, to have the legislature fixing penalties detracts from the independence of the judiciary and the principle of the separation of powers. That is something I have stood here and mentioned too many times in the short time I have been in Parliament. People are deprived of their liberty not in accordance with the public balancing process - that is, individually accountable - but it deprives them of their liberty arbitrarily in accordance with penalties fixed in advance without regard for the individual circumstances. It may even be that penalties such as this would be unconstitutional.
Fourth, mandatory sentences, being arbitrarily fixed in advance, constitute arbitrary detention that is contrary to article 9(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Australia is a party. By removing the power of an appeal court to impose a lesser sentence they deprive people of their right to have their offences effectively reviewed by a higher tribunal. This is contrary to article 14( 5) of this same international covenant.
Fifth, police may overreact and charge more serious offences than are warranted, with an added incentive for police to inflate their statements of facts as a result. Sixth, bail will commonly be refused and the prospect of an inevitable prison sentence providing extra incentives for a person to flee. Seventh, there will be fewer pleas of guilty because, amongst other reasons, no proper discount can be given for a plea or for cooperation. Therefore this leads to extra strain being placed on the courts, prosecution and Legal Aid bodies and offence representatives and all the services that are associated with defending trials. It will lead to backlogs and remand populations to grow. It will also mean, importantly, that victims of crime will have to wait longer for the resolution of their matters and that costs will blow out.
Eighth, juries may become reluctant to convict in some circumstances. This has been found already with some commonwealth prosecutions and it used to happen when the death penalty was available in Australia for murder. Juries tended to convict of manslaughter instead of murder. Ninth, there will be delays involved in the process of achieving resolution, including for police and victims.
Tenth, it means the transfer effectively of sentencing discretion from the courts to police and prosecutors by the selection of charges to proceed, even without directions from or agreements with the Attorney-General. There will be additional pressures on prosecutors to negotiate with the defence and perhaps inappropriately for pragmatic to agree to pursuing lesser charges. Similar pressures will be imposed on police at the charging stage. This process is not transparent or readily accountable and can also be unsatisfactory, as you would expect, for the victims of crime.
The eleventh reason against mandatory sentences is that there will be more and longer sentences for those people who are convicted - clearly in this case a minimum of six months. Prison populations will expand in both the remand and the sentenced populations and this has a cost in terms of the money spent in prisons and the detrimental effect of prison on many people who are inmates there. Where minimum sentences are short, as they are in this instance, alternative dispositions would usually be more appropriate and effective. Here in Tasmania our ballooning jail population has already created a $2 million cost blowout recently. Since the last financial year the number of inmates at Risdon Prison has increased from an average of 470 to 550 and the current levels look as though they are heading towards 600 prisoners on average. The Attorney has not provided us with any commentary on how she is going to cover these increased costs.
The twelfth reason is that it is not a reliable method of treating offenders. A past criminal record or an atypical criminal involvement can be often a poor predictor of future offending. As I have mentioned previously, therapeutic approaches to sentences are not included or possible where mandatory sentences provide for a period of imprisonment. Where it could be possible to deal on a permanent rehabilitative way with the person, that money which could have been used in therapeutic programs is being diverted to keeping a person locked up.
The thirteenth reason is that mandatory sentences are not effective, particularly in the case of assaults on emergency workers where an assault is most likely due to circumstances that may never again arise in an offender's life. A mandatory sentence in this instance does not act as a general deterrent on offending. People who are suffering mental psychosis, are drug affected or under acute mental or physical stress will not stop to consider what might happen to them if they make a spontaneous or involuntary stressful response which leads to an act of assault. There is no apology I am making here for that behaviour -
Mr STREET (Franklin) - Mr Deputy Speaker, I affirm my support for the bill and the minister's intentions in bringing it forward. First, I believe this bill sends a message to the general public and that message is 'Keep your hands off our frontline workers'. Ms Giddings talked about the failure of mandatory sentences and I have heard her speak on that before so it was no surprise, but one of her arguments against it was that assaults on these frontline workers are most likely to be crimes of emotion, passion or anger. The counter-argument to that is one that you gave me before you moved to the Speaker's Chair this afternoon. You were sitting next to me and pointed out that football players often get involved in heated exchanges between themselves but when umpires get involved, no matter what the emotions or anger present in the situation, something in the back of their minds tells them or makes them aware that the consequences of putting their hands on an umpire in the way they would to a player is completely different. The reason is they know the consequences for touching an umpire are far more drastic than for dealing with a player.
As I said, Ms Giddings' opposition to mandatory sentences is well known in this place so I was not surprised by that. What I was surprised by was a couple of the arguments that followed. The first one being the confluence of the introduction of section 16A in December 2014 for assaults on police officers and the 30 per cent increase that there has been in minor assaults on police officers and the fact that the introduction of section 16A caused the 30 per cent increase. How you can argue that mandatory sentence is not a deterrent but somehow the introduction of it increased, not decreased, the percentage of assaults on police officers is mind- boggling.
The other thing that surprised me was I have never heard somebody so vociferously argue against a bill and the fact that it will not work and then combine that with an argument that the scope of the bill is not wide enough.
Ms Giddings - It just shows how pathetic the bill is and how discriminatory it is.
Mr STREET - It is discriminatory? So here we have what Ms Giddings describes as a bill that will not work, but one of her arguments is that the scope of the bill is not wide enough and the poor people should be protected by a bill that will not work. It is mind-boggling. It makes no sense whatsoever to me and I do not think it makes sense to anybody sitting behind me.
I note from the minister's second reading speech that Western Australia, Victoria and the Northern Territory all agree with our approach as they have mandatory sentencing provisions in acts to protect emergency workers, police officers et cetera. The argument about taking away judicial discretion is debunked in the minister's second reading speech by the following passage:
Section 16A will continue to have no implication if there are exceptional circumstances. The phrase 'exceptional circumstances' has been interpreted by courts to mean circumstances that are out of the ordinary course, unusual, special or uncommon. Where such circumstances are found to exist there would be no requirement to impose the mandatory minimum sentence of six months imprisonment.
So there are still judicial discretions in every case. There is still plenty of judicial discretion to evaluate the circumstances under which these assaults take place and to take that into account in sentencing. The most important phrase is another one from the minister's second reading speech and it is this:
The community expects frontline workers to be able to carry out their duties safely. It is in the interests of the entire community that the important functions carried out by frontline workers continue. As the body that is representative of the community as a whole it is appropriate that the Parliament enact laws to protect frontline workers and reflect the community's view that offences resulting in serious bodily harm to frontline workers are entirely unacceptable.
It is my belief that this bill and these amendments do exactly that and it is for that reason that I am more than happy to stand here and support it. I commend the bill to the House.
Mr FERGUSON (Bass - Minister for Health) - Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to respond to the debate and the points that have been made. First of all, I thank each member who has spoken. In particular I thank those members who have spoken in strong support of the bill because in doing so they are demonstrating their strong support for the frontline workers who are there supporting us, supporting Tasmanians.
Emergency service workers including police and some of the health practitioners who are included in the bill are there to support people at a time of some of their greatest need, so it is time for this House to stand up and support the people who support the Tasmanian community. That is precisely what this bill is geared to. I was very challenged by listening to Ms Giddings' speech. She was unable to utter the word 'victim'. She was unable to talk about the victims of crime except for one occasion where she said that the victim and the offender ought to come together and sort it out through some sort of restitution.
We are talking about someone who has been seriously assaulted, someone who has suffered serious bodily harm and once again, as we have seen in previous debates on sentencing amendments, the Labor Party unable to put itself in the shoes of the victim of crime. They are only able ever to put themselves in the shoes of the offender, wanting to defend the offender, wanting to stick up for the offender, wanting to raise arguments of discrimination on the side of the offender. Why not more sympathy and compassion for the victims of crime. That is what the Government is motivated by. There was discussion during the debate, including from Ms Woodruff -
Ms Woodruff interjecting.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order.
Mr FERGUSON - who now interjects questioning the motivation of the bill. The motivation of the bill is to have a just justice system. The motivation of the bill is to stand up for and show support and create greater deterrence for people who do the wrong thing and lay their hands on our frontline staff and hurt them.
I will be responding quite seriously to the arguments that were made, and unfortunately failed to be adequately made, by members opposite, but I must begin by providing a reminder to Ms Giddings who opened her contribution by saying that she had not heard from anyone who supported the bill, which was a breathtaking comment for the Labor Party to be making. Where is the Labor Party? They must be walking around with fingers in their ears. Tasmanians do support this strong approach to law and order policies. They do support very strongly action to show support and protect our frontline workers. You need go no further than the editorial of The Advocate from 25 October of this year. It says:
It should shock most people that dedicated professionals and volunteers who may be going as far as saving lives have their own safety, or in the most extreme circumstances their lives put at risk. That is why a move by the state Government to provide stronger consequences to protect these vital frontline workers is so important.
It is a sad day when members of the Labor Party have to admit that they do not even read The Advocate anymore if they truly claim they have not heard from anyone who supports this legislation. The Advocate says:
While the point has been made by the Opposition that there is no evidence to show that this type of mandatory sentencing works, the message must be sent loud and clear that it will not be tolerated.
This is important. If the Labor Party has totally switched off from listening to Tasmanians then it is a very sad indictment. They only come in here today representing their Labor-aligned unions and their Salamanca branch of the ALP. They have completely lost touch with everyday Tasmanians. There is more and I will come to it if time permits.
Ms Giddings and Ms Woodruff both asserted that these amendments somehow suggest that the Government does not trust judges, or that the changes are undermining judicial discretion. For those comments to be made shows a very basic misunderstanding of what our role here is as MPs. That is fairly pathetic given that we are all MPs. The overarching division between the role of Parliament and the role of the courts in sentencing is that Parliament sets the parameters for the sentence. Courts make decisions on individual cases within the laws set by Parliament.
If Ms Giddings and Ms Woodruff are seriously suggesting that we go back to a medieval system of people turning up to the King and asking for a judgment, they have completely missed the point that Parliament is the arbiter of what laws are then administered by the courts. Courts must sentence offenders according to law. The courts can only base decisions of this kind on the law that is made by this House and the other House of the Tasmanian Parliament. This means that they must sentence the offender within the boundaries set by any applicable legislation and within any boundaries set by relevant decisions of courts that are higher in the hierarchy of courts.
To those members who I would have thought ought to know better, I say again Parliament's role, our role, the proper role of this House is passing sentencing legislation that is a well-recognised role, it is an entrenched role and it is a proper role. Does Labor really oppose this legislation?
Ms Giddings - Do not bring in mandatory penalties; just increase penalties.
Mr FERGUSON - I will come to that, thank you, Ms Giddings. Here is a question for the Labor Party: do they really oppose this legislation?
Ms Giddings - Yes, we said we did.
Mr FERGUSON - Are they promising to repeal it if they were to win the next election?
Ms Giddings - We do not support mandatory sentencing.
Mr FERGUSON - Will you repeal it?
Ms Giddings - We do not support mandatory sentencing.
Mr FERGUSON - Will the Labor Party promise to repeal it?
Ms Giddings - We do not support mandatory sentencing. It is very clear.
Mr FERGUSON - Those of us who are smart enough to understand what that coded message is from Ms Giddings shows an insecurity by Labor. Ms Giddings has not thought this through. It is quite clear Labor's election policy, with the Greens, is to repeal it.
On the question of deterrent, members opposite said it - again, Labor and the Greens are joined at the hip - these amendments will not have a deterrent effect. The Victorian Sentencing Advisory Council examined the question of whether the threat of imprisonment deters offenders and conducted a review of the evidence. It found the threat of imprisonment generates a small general deterrent effect. Ms Giddings said it would have no effect or would cause more assaults. You cannot have it both ways, so make your mind up. Ms Giddings is inconsistent. It found that the threat of imprisonment generates a small general deterrent effect. Further, general deterrence means that the community as a whole is deterred from committing crimes.
Ms Giddings - I hope the community, as a whole, doesn't commit crime. Come on. That is civil society.
Mr FERGUSON - Listen to the discomfort. Sticking up for the offender again.
Ms Giddings interjecting.
Mr FERGUSON - Spare a thought for the victim of crime.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Through the Chair, please, minister. Ms Giddings, you will cease your interjections or I will officially warn you.
Mr FERGUSON - Friend of the criminals. For example, in a recent Tasmanian court of criminal appeal case -
Ms Giddings interjecting.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Ms Giddings, you are officially warned.
Mr FERGUSON - Kaye v Tasmania, an offender became abusive towards and threatened members of the Child Protection Service. He threatened to burn down the house of one of the child protection workers. The offender took a home-made incendiary device to a house he believed was owned by a member of Child Protection Services. He lit the device and placed it near the front door of the house. The device did not ignite properly. In his comments on passing sentence the sentencing judge noted that had the device ignited properly the damage to life and property could have been catastrophic. He said these were not spontaneous crimes. The defendant disclosed his intention many months earlier and he had a long time to reflect on his decision to act. He planned what he did and he took some trouble to put that plan into effect. In examining the same case, the Court of Criminal Appeal accepted that it was aggravated, that the appellant's crimes were directed toward a public office and were borne out of a motive to take revenge or threaten or punish an officer which arose solely as a result of that person carrying out the functions of his role as a child protection worker.
This again makes the point that child protection officers are particularly vulnerable because of the work they do. While it may be true some offenders may act impulsively, others do not, as Ms Giddings asserted. Some offending against these occupational groups involves planning, preparation and forethought, so Ms Giddings' argument has been debunked.
Ms Giddings and Ms Woodruff, in their embarrassment in opposing this sensible legislation, claim the Sentencing Advisory Council recommended increases in penalties for the offences, not mandatory sentences, and they asserted the Attorney-General has not implemented any of the recommendations contained in the Sentencing Advisory Council report. That is not true. This Government has brought in amendments. This is one of the most bizarre assertions by the Labor Party - why would you plead guilty if there is a mandatory sentence? The assertion that was being made -
Ms Giddings - You know nothing about the law if you think that's absurd. Talk to defence lawyers.
Mr FERGUSON - There are effectively mandatory penalties for crime, such as rape and murder, because courts always impose sentences of imprisonment for these offences. People plead guilty to these offences. Ms Giddings also asserted that this might bizarrely encourage a worse form of assault. I think she said 'may as well go hard', encouraging assaults. This is only a minimum mandatory sentence. It is not a fixed mandatory sentence. It is a minimum.
It ought to be clear to Ms Giddings - she ought to have read the bill, the fact sheet and the clause notes - that the courts have still discretion to impose a higher than the minimum, a greater than a six-month sentence of imprisonment. To suggest that somehow people are going to make a judgment, 'Well, if I am going to go down, I am just going to go harder', is a bizarre and irresponsible statement made by Ms Giddings. It is limited to serious bodily harm in any event, not all assaults.
Ms Giddings also, and this surprised me, asserted there was no appeal on a mandatory sentence. Where did that come from?
Ms Giddings - From the Law Society.
Mr FERGUSON - I think Ms Giddings ought to seek some legal advice or think through common sense on this legislation. An appeal is available. Of course there is and if Ms Giddings can prove it otherwise, she ought to say so. There is an appeal on a mandatory sentence. It is a minimum sentence.
Ms Giddings interjecting.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order.
Mr FERGUSON - I know you are embarrassed, you are opposing sensible legislation, but you should get your facts straight. It is a minimum sentence and an offender found guilty can appeal if they receive a sentence above the minimum. They can also appeal the finding that the victim suffered serious bodily harm. They could appeal a finding that there are no exceptional circumstances. They could appeal the length of the sentence if it was greater than the minimum.
Ms Giddings - Exactly. Point taken.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order.
Mr FERGUSON - It is untrue. Do not start pretending you did not say it. It is untrue to say there is no appeal on a mandatory sentence. Ms Woodruff asked, what happens if a person is under extreme pressure or a difficult circumstance? Provided all the other requirements in section 16A are satisfied, the court must impose the six month minimum sentence. The phrase 'exceptional circumstances' is contained in other sections of the Sentencing Act. It is very clear. For example, section 15(3) says that:
An offender who is sentenced to a term of imprisonment for a prison offence must serve the sentence cumulatively on any uncompleted sentence of imprisonment that the offender is then serving or liable to serve unless the court imposing the sentence directs otherwise because of exceptional circumstances.
It is not defined in the act, but it is interpreted many times by Australian courts. I raised this in my second reading speech. The word 'exceptional' describes something out of the ordinary course of events, unusual, special or uncommon. It does not need to be unique, unprecedented or very rare, but it cannot be a circumstance that is routinely or normally encountered.
Ms Giddings asserted that a court will find a person guilty of a lesser offence to escape the operation of the mandatory sentence. I do not know if she will change her tune on this as well. For the benefit of members, Ms Giddings has it wrong. That cannot occur in Tasmania. Ms Giddings has it wrong, because section 16A refers to an offence, not a particular offence. For example, in other states mandatory sentences attach to particular offences. A clear criterion listed is serious bodily injury.
Ms Woodruff asserted that this transfers discretion to the police and prosecuting authorities. In this case there are no alternative charges a prosecutor can charge an offender with. I do not know where these members opposite are taking their political lines. Ms Giddings also talked about other matters, including increase in assaults on police. My colleague, Minister Hidding, has provided me with some advice. Serious assaults are down 50 per cent compared to this time last year.
I hope, Ms Giddings, rather than gloating over numbers that she argued otherwise, you will welcome a reduction.
Ms Giddings - A 30 cent increase in assaults? Great message you have sent out.
Mr FERGUSON - It doesn't sound like she does, but I welcome that serious assaults are down 50 per cent compared to this time last year. Do deterrents work? Yes, they do.
I note that the shadow police minister, shadow health minister and shadow minister for human services did not speak in relation to these other occupation groups; only Ms Giddings spoke.
Ms Giddings - It's my responsibility.
Mr FERGUSON - One of the most bizarre arguments that really argued against the very premise of the Opposition's position was that there should have been more groups in the mix. This is a fascinating mess that Ms Giddings walked into. She created this mess and then got tangled in it. It has been made clear that this is a phased introduction. Hansard will show that arguing that the occupational list should have been broader, or arguing -
Ms Giddings - If you are going to do it, why?
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order.
Mr FERGUSON - I will let you keep interjecting.
Ms Giddings - Answer it.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Ms Giddings, you are on a warning. I suggest you do not interject any more.
Ms GIDDINGS - Point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. The minister is making allegations about what I said in the debate, which is totally false, and he is not answering why.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - It is not a point of order.
Ms Giddings - Yes, it is.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - It is not a point of order.
Mr FERGUSON - If the member was making a point of order or wanted to interject she could at least be honest and say that at the next election Labor will be promising to tear this up.
In answer to those issues of the selection of occupational groups, as has been made repeatedly clear, this is a phased introduction. We began by introducing police, because we knew on advice, even though Labor argued otherwise, that police were at the greatest risk. That is why police were the first occupational group to be introduced. That does not mean that they were the only occupational group to be considered.
Ms Giddings - Why aren't orderlies here?
Mr FERGUSON - Ms Giddings is again pretending to stick up for orderlies.
Ms Giddings - You failed them if you think this is so good.
Mr FERGUSON - I hope Hansard caught that. Ms Giddings asserts that we failed orderlies by not including them. Once again, there is this messy logical construction. In this phase of the reform process we are introduces nurses, midwives, child protection officers -
Ms Giddings - But not orderlies.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order, Ms Giddings.
Mr FERGUSON - For the benefit of members opposite who again argued against those groups, but are seemingly arguing for orderlies to come in, I say again we are taking careful advice about occupational groups who are also at increased risk of occupational violence. We will be very open-minded to future occupational groups being provided with the same protection. When that opportunity comes along and the Government takes further action, no doubt those opposite today who have been pretending to stick up for orderlies would argue against those as well, again using their very spurious arguments.
It has to be said as well that there is a disconnect that exists out there . I notice that the Labor Party seem to be taking their orders from the unions again. I know there is a spectrum of views within the union movement but I think it is important that those unions that represent other occupational groups who want to be included in this legislation get with the program and do what Labor has not done and listen to what the Tasmanian community has to say.
I say on behalf of Government that while at this time, based on the risk assessments that have been done the Government has made the judgment about this next group of occupational professions being included, we will be very open-minded and accept evidence that comes forward about future opportunities to expand that list. As to those other groups, I welcome them all and thank them for their contributions and I note that in some cases there is disappointment that we have not included other groups, but we have taken this feedback on board and will continue to do so.
It has to be said that Labor is soft on crime. Labor again today has demonstrated that they want to fight for the rights of criminals. They want to go against what is good and worth fighting for for our frontline workers.
Ms Woodruff - You don't care.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order.
Mr FERGUSON - Ms Woodruff does not care. Like the Labor Party, the Greens are soft on crime.
Ms Woodruff interjecting.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order, Ms Woodruff.
Mr FERGUSON - Ms Woodruff, who is currently interjecting, had a lot to say but most of it was wrong and has been debunked.
Ms Woodruff interjecting.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Through the Chair, minister. Ms Woodruff, you are officially warned.
Mr FERGUSON - I noted during the member for Franklin's contribution that she referred to a member of the public who had contacted her, a person who advised her that he or she was an orderly. I think Ms Woodruff said 'he' - a gentleman who was an orderly in one of our hospitals. No doubt he was one of our valued Tasmanian Health Service employees. I thought it was really interesting that this reference was being made by the Greens and I wrote this down. Ms Woodruff said that whatever she had said to him, the orderly agreed with the Greens. I cannot imagine what this person could possibly have been agreeing with, because if it is the same person who has contacted government members - and I do not know if it is the same person - how would Ms Woodruff and the Greens reconcile that this person has said to me and my Government colleagues:
My name is ...
I will not repeat it -
I am a medical orderly attendant at ... hospital.
The new legislation will apply to several areas within the public service with the intention of both discouraging assaults and more harsh penalties for perpetrators once found guilty.
A glaring omission from this amendment are medical orderlies, attendants that provides a frontline service to the hospital that frequently involve physical confrontations with all manner of aggressive patients and members of the public on a routine basis. Some of my work colleagues have been off work for extended periods of time in the past year, suffering both physical and emotional trauma.
My colleagues and I are very concerned that this amendment does not go far enough in as much as it excludes a group of employees that are most certainly exposed to physical harm while trying to protect other staff that are in fact recognised by this amendment.
I wonder if that is that same person who contacted Ms Woodruff.
Ms Woodruff - There are a lot of 'ifs', 'buts' and 'maybes' in that. You are drawing a long bow.
Mr FERGUSON - I have read from the email.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Ms Woodruff, it is not your opportunity to interject.
Mr FERGUSON - I wonder aloud if it is the same gentleman. I suspect that it is because this person has been very active in this area and I commend him for his advocacy. This person on behalf of the employees that he is representing on this particular issue has to do so because his union will not represent this group of people on this issue.
Ms Woodruff interjecting.
Mr FERGUSON - I do not think you are listening, Ms Woodruff.
Ms Woodruff - Did you speak to this person?
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Ms Woodruff.
Mr BROOKS - Point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. The Greens think they are above the law, as we know, but she has already been warned. I suggest it is time for her to be removed from this Chamber if she cannot control herself. I am interested in what the minister has to say without constant interjections of the Greens, who cannot abide by the rules.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - I take that point of order. Ms Woodruff, you have been warned. If you continue to interject I will have to eject you from the House.
Mr FERGUSON - I have not personally spoken with this gentleman but many of my colleagues have. If it is the same person I would really struggle to believe a word of what Ms Woodruff had to say where she asserted that this person agreed with the Greens. I would struggle to believe a word Ms Woodruff had to say and I will seek out that opinion on my own.
Foolish language was used when it was said by members opposite that this is an attack on Tasmanians' rights, that this is an affront to our justice system. It was said by a member opposite that this is an offensive bill and it is dangerous. It shows again the ideological divide members opposite are stuck with. They will not listen to the voice of the victims I want to represent. I want to move on from people who have asserted they would like to be included, which the Government would be very open minded to. Like other members on this side of the House who have spoken, I would like to give voice to a victim, the victims who are the target of our concern here, the centre of our concern - the victims that Ms Giddings and Ms Woodruff struggle to even refer to. I have had ongoing contact from a paramedic:
I wish to provide feedback. I believe the amendment is needed as I am a paramedic who was seriously assaulted in 2015. I received serious injuries and am still being treated today for those injuries. The court process for my case was frustrating in that I was not sure what sentence would be imposed until the actual sentencing day. Luckily the magistrate imposed a six-month sentence.
The cases of assaults and abuse of frontline workers is increasing and a deterrent is required. I would question, however, the definition of 'serious assault' as it applies to frontline workers in this amendment.
This gentleman goes on to also ask that we broaden the definition of 'frontline worker' to include other groups at risk of assault. I have spoken to this person personally. I admire him, not just for his work in the field but for the way in which he has had to struggle through being a victim of crime. This is a person who was standing on the frontline of our emergency services as a professional protecting the health and wellbeing of others but he was seriously assaulted while doing his job. I greatly admire him, not just for his professional work but also for standing with a different position to the union and speaking out. I know life is a struggle for this person and for others like him who have been assaulted, suffering serious bodily injury at work. This minister and this Government is for these people but we need to also provide a stronger deterrent. That is what the law can do, just as I outlined, which the Victorian advisory group informed us.
I challenge false statements made by others who suggest that this is the only thing the Government is doing in this area. In my own portfolio, and I can speak only for my own portfolio, some of those other measures that sit well and comfortably beside our mandatory minimum sentencing laws are being implemented. Just this afternoon I was able to take our campaign, 'Keep Your Hands off our Paramedics' one step further with a partnership between Ambulance Tasmania and the Tasmanian Hospitality Association, a partnership that will see our marketing material going up not just in pubs but also clubs, cafes and other venues around the state across the industry - not just members of the THA.
We have provided training to our paramedic work force, which was provided by Tasmania Police - I thank Minister Hidding for the way in which the service has been able to work together - in de-escalation training, being able to protect yourself and being able to assess the risks to yourself as you approach a patient or an environment you are not familiar with. We have increased technology. All of these things were mentioned in the second reading speech, but appear to have not been picked up by members opposite who were too blind to study and properly research it, in their ideological blindness to opposing a proper sending of a message about what we regard as an appropriate penalty.
The Government is very committed to this legislation. You only need to have heard what my colleagues on this side of the House have had to say. It is very clear that Tasmanians expect proper protection. When the law is identified as having a weakness, it is the proper role of the Parliament to fill those gaps, to remedy, to fix the legislation and to make it work better for Tasmanians.
I will finish as I started, for members opposite to say that they have not heard anyone in the community that supports this legislation shows they are not only blinded by ideology, but they are deaf to the voices of Tasmanians. Today the greatest voice of all in this debate ought be the voice of the victims, which this Government has given voice to.
Bill read the second time.
SENTENCING AMENDMENT (ASSAULTS ON FRONTLINE WORKERS) BILL 2016 (No. 63)
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 -
Section 16A amended (Mandatory imprisonment for offence causing serious bodily harm to certain frontline workers)
Ms WOODRUFF - I have a number of questions, the first in relation to the Sentencing Advisory Council's recommendations. Can you please give the reasons you rejected the Sentencing Advisory Council's principal recommendation, which was to increase the existing penalty provisions in section 34B(1) of the Police Offences Act to broaden the definition of a public officer in section 34B(2) of the Police Offences Act to include an emergency service worker and to increase the penalty provisions in section 34B(2) of the Police Offences Act? Instead of taking up that recommendation, which was very specific and particularly related to police, which you have been at pains to talk about protecting, if you are serious why did you instead push forward with minimum mandatory sentencing, given that the Sentencing Advisory Council categorically rejected minimum mandatory sentencing in every single report that they have written that considers that as an option?
My second question is in relation to consultation. Could you please provide the position of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Law Society of Tasmania and the Tasmanian Association of Community Legal Centres and their views on this bill? We have their views as recorded by the Sentencing Advisory Council and the work they did, but I know you did not take notice of their views. The department might have received different comments so could you please provide these for those organisations.
Can you confirm that Ambulance Tasmania maintained the position it gave in its submission to the Sentencing Advisory Council in which it rejected mandatory minimum sentencing. Ambulance Tasmania noted that mandatory sentences are not appropriate in relation to these offences and would prefer that each offence is dealt with in relation to its own unique circumstances and the situation in the courts. Was that its position to you in relation to this bill?
Another question relates to injustice, which is the core concern we have with the Government's approach. If you are intent on following through with this approach, do you agree that it is appropriate, in fact necessary, for a judge to take account of a person's individual circumstances when they are determining a just, equitable and fair sentence? That is a sentence that is commensurate with the seriousness of the offence that was committed. Do you agree that that if a court thinks the appropriate sentence is the prescribed minimum or more than that, then the prescribed minimum penalty that is set by this bill is not necessary?
In other words, do you agree with what the court thinks? Does it follow that the purpose of minimum mandatory sentencing is to make a judge impose a heavier sentence than may be appropriate in their view after taking account of the circumstances of the offence?
During your second reading you acknowledged that frontline workers often come into contact with people in traumatic circumstances and that this introduces an unpredictability in how people will react to the help that is offered to them by frontline workers. Those circumstances would include extreme emotional or physical pain, or serious injuries, or the death of someone that they love that often too sadly occurs right in front of them.
You say that this bill is about protecting ambulance workers and paramedics by deterring people from assaulting them, but if someone had just suffered a significant trauma in the heat of the moment are they really going to be weighing up the costs of their actions and making a pragmatic decision? How will this particularly prevent an assault that has not been premeditated?
You say the bill provides an exception for exceptional circumstances, but given that the nature of frontline workers jobs involves coming into contact with people who are suffering physical and psychological pain does it not appear that all of the circumstances they are confronting are exceptional? You have effectively just demonstrated that this really is just playing politics.
Mr FERGUSON - The first thing I want to say is how pathetic it is that members opposite would argue so vociferously against our bill and not have the courage to vote against it on a division. Absolutely weak. The record does not show how you voted.
Ms Giddings - It does because we said we opposed the bill.
Mr FERGUSON - The Labor Party did not have the courage of its convictions to call a division so they could record the vote.
Ms Giddings - You are so pathetic.
Mr FERGUSON - It is pathetic that the Labor Party and the Greens seem to have done the most extraordinary thing.
Ms Giddings - Thank God this is the last day of sittings. We have three months break.
Mr FERGUSON - Which is most unusual in this House. Most unusual that when two sides of the House disagree so strongly that the Opposition would be too ashamed to have their votes recorded, but I thank Ms Giddings for putting it on the record again and I assert again that at the next election they will promise to repeal this.
I will respond to some of the questions from Ms Woodruff. I will not answer all of them because some of them are seeking an opinion or asking me for information that I am not willing to provide you with. For example, I am not going to be providing -
Ms Giddings - Not willing to provide?
Mr FERGUSON - If you have a question you may ask it but I am going to answer Ms Woodruff right now.
In relation to releasing submissions from parties that provided it through the consultation process I am not at liberty nor will I provide it. I was asked the question about why Government rejected a principle to increase penalties and Ms Woodruff specifically referred to 34B. Again you are not listening because in my summing up during the second reading debate I said that the Government had brought in amendments. You are a member of parliament. You should do your basic research. I am holding in my hand the Police Offences Act 1935 and 34B which very clearly, Ms Woodruff, shows if you had bothered to look it up at a well known website, thelaw. tas.gov.au, you would see,
Ms Giddings - Do not be patronising like that.
Mr FERGUSON - Do not play the patronising card. A false assertion has been made by a member of parliament. Bill 15 of 2014 amended section 34B. It is a basic failure to do your research.
I will not be offering an opinion on what personal circumstances a judge might take into account, but a member of the House called out, 'If you are poor you should be able to bash someone'. I thought that summed it up and summed up what my gut reaction would have been as well.
I am very happy, however, for the debate to read into the Hansard what are exceptional circumstances notwithstanding that I have already given some case law outline of what means. Provided all of the other requirements in section 16A are satisfied, the court must impose the six-month minimum sentence of imprisonment unless there are exceptional circumstances. The phrase is contained in other sections of the Sentencing Act. The phrase is not defined in the act but has been interpreted many times by Australian courts. It potentially encompasses a broad range of circumstances. The word 'exceptional' describes something which is out of the ordinary course of events, unusual, special or uncommon. It does not need to be unique, unprecedented or very rare, but it cannot be a circumstance that is routinely or normally encountered. A court will take into account all the circumstances of the case in determining whether there are exceptional circumstances. All of the circumstances of a case will include: the circumstances of the offending - for example, premeditation, use of a weapon and type of weapon used, degree of harm caused to the victim; the circumstances of the offender - for example, remorse, personal circumstances, prior good character; and any other matters the court considers relevant.
Exceptional circumstances in a particular case might be made up of a single exceptional matter, a combination of exceptional matters, or a combination of matters that, although none of them alone are exceptional, combine to make up exceptional circumstances.
I also want to place on the record that in bringing this amendment bill forward the Government does not change or revisit the question of exceptional circumstances. That was already a principle of the legislation we introduced in relation to police officers. It is the very same construct, the same meaning and interpretation. I did note there was one commentator in the community who suggested that somehow the Government had weakened or changed this policy in respect of exceptional circumstances, and we absolutely have not.
Ms WOODRUFF - I am sorry the minister has to stoop to being patronising and ignoring any of the questions I have put. He obviously does not want to put on the record the views of the stakeholders that he is using as justification for his Government's position. I find it quite extraordinary and fascinating that the Government is afraid to provide the views of Ambulance Tasmania, the Law Society of Tasmania, the Tasmanian Association of Community Legal Centres and the Director of Public Prosecutions. Either they are going to be supporting him, in which case that would be useful ammunition he might like to use against our position, or else they are not supporting him, and perhaps the people who read Hansard can make their own speculations about the reason he would not want to produce that information. I think we can leave it at that because that is an answer in itself.
I have a couple of other questions. In relation to a breach of international obligations, mandatory sentences are arbitrarily fixed in advance and constitute arbitrary detention. That is contrary to article 9( 1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Australia is a party. By removing the power of an appeal court to impose a lesser sentence they deprive people of the right to have their sentence effectively reviewed by a higher tribunal, which is contrary to article 14( 5) of the international convention. Minister, have you sought legal advice on the effect of the consequences of this bill's breach of our obligations under this international convention that is currently binding us?
In relation to costs, as I mentioned in my response, a result of this push to bring in mandatory sentencing means there will be fewer pleas of guilty, additional strain placed on the courts, prosecutions, legal aid bodies and defence representatives, as well as the impact for victims of crime who will necessarily wait longer for their matters to be resolved. Costs will blow out, including the expansion of the prison population and costs that go with that. This is a matter of fact because we have seen it happen in other jurisdictions. What modelling has the Attorney-General done to identify what this bill will cost the taxpayer? What money has the Attorney requested to be set aside to fund it?
This bill is a manifestation of the Attorney-General's complete distrust and lack of confidence in our courts. By pushing this bill she is undermining Tasmania's confidence in our justice system and effectively saying that judges and magistrates cannot be trusted to impose a just sentence. They would, I expect, as does every other person who understands what is going on, see this as a full frontal attack on our courts.
I remind the minister and this Government that we have a history in this state of settlement by Europeans around the little problem of convicts and dealing with locking people up. Convicts coming to Australia were the people who were too poor to be able to respond in any other way but in a serious way with their circumstances at the time. I am not comparing them to the situation of serious assaults on frontline workers, that is a different category, but they were dealt with in a manner which is no longer deemed to be appropriate and for many very good reasons. It seems that this mandatory sentencing push is about locking people up and throwing away the key and not looking at their personal situation or the circumstances leading up to that offence happening. That is the job of the courts; that is what they do. That is why we have a separation of powers. It is their job to do that. We are sitting here and making a general rule while they have their personal individual circumstances in front of them. That is what they are considering when passing sentence. It is not possible for us to sit here and act in any other way than the superintendents at Port Arthur did when they put people in cells and left them there indefinitely. We do not want to go back to that sort of Tasmania. What sort of Attorney decides not to take account of the courts and instead that the Government knows best in all of these matters?
Mr FERGUSON - I think that just shows how soft on crime the Greens are. Perhaps Ms Woodruff would not know this, but in the previous parliament when I was a member of the Opposition, the then Greens member for Lyons' view on crime, law and order was that when somebody has been found guilty of a crime, instead of sending them to jail you should get them to sign a contract that they will not do it again and let them out. It is the same ridiculous, out-of-touch mentality driving those comments that have just been uttered.
The first thing I want to say is that the arguments on arbitrary detention are utterly rejected. To suggest otherwise is a grossly irresponsible act by Ms Woodruff, just as it was irresponsible for her to assert that our highly professional mental health staff in a public hospital system are breaking the law. There is nothing arbitrary about the Parliament making a law that is then administered by the courts. For Ms Woodruff to be using the United Nations, which is there to develop better governance mechanisms in countries that do not have an advanced judiciary and parliamentary process, is very poor form indeed.
I point out that there is nothing arbitrary about a person who, having committed a serious bodily injury against a frontline worker and has to be charged by police, found guilty by the court, has to meet the criteria laid down in this legislation. It is a sentencing matter. It is a sentencing act amendment. To suggest that this is arbitrary detention is a disgraceful comment to make.
Other questions that were asked are not relevant to the clause. To suggest this is a full-frontal attack on the courts is ridiculous. To assert what the member has done again demonstrates a failure to understand the very basic truths of what separation of powers even means, because it seems to me that Ms Woodruff would rather this Parliament never made a law in relation to law and order, crime and criminal matters. Just leave it to someone else to decide. Ms Woodruff seems to fail to grasp the value that Tasmanians place in being able to elect their parliament and give democratic expression to what they believe. That is what parliaments are elected to do, to make laws and to be responsible in doing so.
The last thing I want to say is how offended I am on behalf of the people we are trying to protect. Ms Woodruff compared somebody being unjustly transported for life for stealing a loaf of bread 200 years ago to serious bodily injury against one of our public servants and as a result a perpetrator being given six months' jail. I find that offensive. It shows how out of touch the Greens are on this. They are soft on crime and Labor with them.
Clause 4 agreed to and bill taken through remainder of the Committee stage.
Bill read the third time.