This morning Simon Corbell was telling all and sundry that it was crucial his culpable driving reforms got up today in the Legislative Assembly:
Mr Corbell noted that it was important that this bill was passed today to ensure that these important legal reforms, which the community views as serious offences, are brought into law as soon as possible.
“The community places a high level of seriousness on driving offences that either cause harm or death and the government’s intention with this legislation is to properly reflect the seriousness of these crimes in the types of maximum penalties that can be handed down in ACT courts,” Mr Corbell said.
“Concerns have been raised by the ACT Director of Public Prosecutions as well as members of the ACT community about the current range of penalties, and the government agrees that higher maximum penalties will adequately reflect the severity of these offences on the ACT’s statute books.
“Increasing these penalties also sends a clear message to the judiciary about what the Legislature sees is a serious offence.”
Sadly he seems to have failed to convince the Greens and Liberals.
The Greens had this to say:
The ACT Greens today renewed their calls for a broad, evidence based review of sentencing, rather than an ad-hoc and reactive increase for selective crimes.
A Government bill which proposed to double the maximum prison sentence for the crime of culpable driving and other related offences was voted down by the Canberra Liberals and Greens in the Legislative Assembly today.
“The Government provided no evidence to show what impact doubling maximum jail sentences would have,” Shane Rattenbury MLA, ACT Greens Attorney Generals spokesperson said.
“Sentencing law is complex and any proposed reforms need a considered approach which is supported by evidence.
“The Government’s own guide to writing legislation* states that, despite popular perception, increasing maximum sentences does not deter crime and that education and better detection of crime are the answer.
“For example, in the early 2000’s Victoria achieved a twenty seven percent reduction in fatal crashes through improved use speed cameras to deter dangerous drivers. The National Road Safety Strategy cites this as a successful example of how to more effectively use penalties rather than simply increasing the level of punishment.
“The Government’s bill does not contemplate this crucial evidence and, as a result, the Greens believe it is too narrow and ad hoc.
“Instead, the Greens believe there is a need for a comprehensive review of all sentences being handed down in the ACT.
“Last week we unsuccessfully debated our bill which would have required the Government to conduct the review and to look at how well our sentencing regime is working overall. In light of the failed Government bill today we may need to reconsider the Greens proposal for a review.
* Page 35 of the Justice and Community Safety Guide to Framing Offences states: “Despite popular perception, research suggests that increasing penalties does not act as a significant deterrent or prevent crime. Strategies that look at reducing the incidence of crime (such as targeted education and awareness raising) and improving detection, arrest and prosecution of offenders are generally more effective” http://www.justice.act.gov.au/publication/view/184/title/guide-for-framing-offences
Meanwhile the Liberals were less verbose:
Simon Corbell wants to devalue the seriousness of certain aggravated offences, which relate to a range of crimes against pregnant women. The Canberra Liberals fundamentally disagree with lowering the standard for these offences.
UPDATE: Simon Corbell has now responded with disappointment:
“I am disappointed that the other parties in the Assembly will not engage in a constructive dialogue with the Government on this matter, and will simply let these reforms be defeated, resulting in no changes to this important area of law.”
“The Government has created this legislation following representations from both the Director of Public Prosecutions and the community,” Mr Corbell said.
“It is not too late for either party to take the responsible course of action and support the government’s proposed reforms, and the government remains open to engaging in further discussions about a way forward.”