WA Bill to Amend Sentencing for Persons Linked to Terrorism

Friday 3 September 2021 @ 8.47 a.m. | Crime | Judiciary, Legal Profession & Procedure

The Sentencing Legislation Amendment (Persons Linked to Terrorism) Bill 2021 (WA) ("the Bill") was introduced into the WA Legislative Assembly by Attorney General John Quigley ("the Attorney General") on 18 August 2021.

The Bill seeks to amend the:

  • Sentence Administration Act 2003 (WA);
  • Young Offenders Act 1994 (WA);
  • Criminal Procedure Act 2004 (WA); and 
  • Freedom of Information Act 1992 (WA).

The Bill proposes amendments to implement a Council of Australian Governments ("COAG") agreement made in 2017 for a presumption against early release for persons with links to terrorism.

According to the Attorney General in his second reading speech:

"Western Australia has taken a two-stage approach to implementing the COAG agreement. The first stage was implemented by the Bail Amendment (Persons Linked to Terrorism) Act 2019, which received royal assent on 5 July 2019 and became operational on 1 January 2020. The Bill before the house represents the second stage and accords with the principles agreed to by COAG."

Proposed Amendments

The Bill proposes amendments to the Sentence Administration Act 2003 (WA) and the Young Offenders Act 1994 (WA), to provide that persons linked to terrorism would be subject to a presumption against an early release order. The Bill aims to ensure that risks related to terrorism can be appropriately assessed before the privilege of an early release is granted.

The Bill's explanatory memorandum explains:

"The Bill creates a presumption against early release by mandating that exceptional reasons be shown before a young offender or prisoner with links to terrorism, is granted an early release order. This is known as the exceptional reasons test. To guide the exceptional reasons test, the Bill introduces special considerations which require an assessment of particular matters such as:

  • the degree of risk posed to the community should the person be released; and
  • the nature and seriousness of the current links to terrorism and terrorism related activities."

The Attorney General in explaining the scope of the proposed amendments, notes in his second reading speech:

"For the purposes of the bill, a person falls under the definition of a person who has links to terrorism if a person is subject to certain terrorism-related charges, orders or convictions as defined in the bill. When the person has made statements or carried out activities that support, or advocate support for, terrorist acts, the person must be subject to a Commissioner of Police report to fall under the definition ... The bill will [also] enable the immediate cancellation of an early release order in the event of a prisoner or young offender becoming subject to defined terrorism-related charges, orders or convictions and in other specified circumstances."

The Bill also contains proposed confidentiality provisions to protect intelligence information about terrorist organisations that may be contained in reports made in the processes made this Bill. These seek to increase confidence in information sharing and ensure against impacts on current or ongoing national security matters.

The Bill has yet to pass the lower house.

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Sentencing Legislation Amendment (Persons Linked to Terrorism) Bill 2021 (WA) and explanatory materials as available from TimeBase's LawOne Service

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