Justice Legislation Miscellaneous Amendments Bill 2019 Introduced Into Tasmanian Parliament

Friday 27 September 2019 @ 11.57 a.m. | Judiciary, Legal Profession & Procedure | Legal Research

The Justice Legislation Miscellaneous Amendments Bill 2019 (Tas) (the “Bill”) was introduced to Tasmania’s House of Assembly on 24 September 2019 by the Hon Elise Archer, the Minister for Justice ("the Minister"). It proposes to amend the Criminal Code Act 1924; the Criminal Law (Detention and Interrogation) Act 1995; and the Sentencing Act 1997.

The Bill underwent a public consultation process (which closed on 30 August 2019) where submissions were received from interested stake-holders.

About the Bill

Outlined in the Bill’s Explanatory Memorandum (“EM”), the Bill:

“… makes non-controversial amendments to three Acts. The amendments arise from requests from various stakeholders to clarify or improve the operation of the legislation.”

Overview of the Proposed Changes

The proposed amendments include:

  • amending s 401(3)(a) to Schedule 1 of the Criminal Code Act 1924 to widen the definition of “sentence” to enable an order deferring the sentencing of a person to be appealed by the Crown;
  • amending s 4 to the Criminal Law (Detention and Interrogation) Act 1995 to specify “that the requirement under s 4, for a person taken into custody to be brought before a justice or magistrate, does not apply to a person arrested under a Supreme Court warrant issued by a judge”; and
  • various amendments to Sentencing Act 1997 – including amendments to s 42AL to “provide a single justice with the power to remand or bail a person subject to a home detention order made by a magistrate, if the person has been arrested and clarify the arrest provision in relation to a person who is subject to a home detention order” and amendments to s 44 to “provide a default period of 28 days within which fines are to be paid, in the event that a court does not specify a payment deadline in an order and amendments to”.

In her speech introducing the Bill, the Minister said:

“The Government is committed to ensuring that Tasmanians have access to an effective and efficient justice system. Consistent with that commitment this Bill makes minor amendments to three Acts commonly used by the courts. These amendments will clarify or improve the operation of the respective Acts.”

Submission to the Consultation

A submission received from the Tasmanian Women Lawyer Committee during the Bill's consultation stage expressed some concerns about the changes:

“… the TWL Committee understands the background which has prompted these changes, and in principle agrees that lengthy deferral of sentences without a rehabilitative or therapeutic element is inappropriate … the TWL Committee notes concerns with the proposed reform to grant a right of appeal to a decision of a Court to exercise its discretion with respect to deferring sentence. At present, a deferral of sentence means that the matter is not finalised and cannot be appealed. With respect, this is the correct legal approach.”

The submission highlighted the "background which has prompted these changes", linking to a Media Release of March 2016 which indicated the Government at the time was considering phasing out the use of suspended sentences and introducing new sentencing options. Commenting in the 2016 Media Release Vanessa Goodwin (Attorney-General) said:

“Serious sex offenders, drug traffickers and violent criminals will no longer be eligible for suspended sentences under the first tranche of reforms to be introduced by the Hodgman Liberal Government … Given the widespread community perception of suspended sentences as a soft and ineffective response to crime, Tasmania’s heavy reliance on suspended sentences continues to diminish community confidence in the sentencing process … the Government is also considering additional reforms to target high risk family violence offenders which may further restrict the use of suspended sentences.”

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Sources:

Justice Legislation Miscellaneous Amendments Bill 2019 (Tas) - Bill and supporting information available from TimeBase LawOne Service 

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