4 October 2022

Labor MLA breaks ranks to back full review of sentencing in ACT

| Lottie Twyford
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Since Matthew McLuckie died in May, his father, Tom, has been a vocal advocate calling for change. Photo: ACT Policing.

Labor backbencher Marisa Paterson has broken ranks with the government to add her voice to a chorus calling for a wholesale review of sentencing in the Territory.

That’s something the government has pushed back against.

Dr Paterson, who has been working with Canberra dad Tom McLuckie in recent months following the tragic death of his son Matthew, said she doesn’t believe her position should be politicised.

“I’m a concerned local member and I’ve had multiple constituents raise this with me as an issue,” Dr Paterson told Region yesterday.

“I think a review is reasonable, practical and shouldn’t be an issue. It’s always healthy to review these things.”

dr Marisa paterson outside

Dr Marisa Paterson is specifically calling for a review of sentencing for dangerous driving offences. Photo: Region.

She is specifically interested in a deeper examination of sentencing as it relates to dangerous driving offences, particularly given her conversations with families who have lost loved ones on the Territory’s roads.

“It does seem there may be issues there, and [Mr McLuckie’s] campaign has received a lot of support,” she said.

But Dr Paterson has indicated she supports a full review into the judiciary, which Mr McLuckie has also called for.

Twenty-year-old Matthew McLuckie was killed by a speeding car travelling on the wrong side of Hindmarsh Drive in May.

His dad has since launched a social media campaign for mandatory minimum sentencing with no parole for serious motor vehicle crime, loss of license, and impounding motor vehicles for excessive speeding and other reckless driving.

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Mr McLuckie has also submitted three petitions to the Territory’s Legislative Assembly demanding a review of the performance of the ACT judiciary in regards to sentencing and a review of the process of appointments to the judiciary.

A third petition is calling for the implementation of sentencing guidelines for grievous and purposefully reckless motor vehicle crimes and addressing recidivism.

Each has been signed by more than 2000 people.

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Dr Paterson had commented on a recent post to throw her support behind a review of sentencing in the Territory.

“I think we should always strive to improve outcomes for the community (which should have a rehabilitation focus and may very well include community correction orders, good behaviour orders etc), but the community should feel confidence in these decisions – particularly around judgments for serious criminal offences. There is work to be done,” she wrote.

Dr Paterson’s position, which she confirmed to Region is not that of her party room, has been seized on by the Opposition.

Jeremy Hanson

Opposition spokesperson for police Jeremy Hanson has threatened a no-confidence motion in the Territory’s Attorney-General if he refused to commit to a review of sentencing and bail. Photo: Region.

Canberra Liberals’ spokesperson for police Jeremy Hanson said Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury’s position was now “untenable” and he should resign.

“Backbenchers in his own government are calling for it to be done,” he said.

“This statement joins calls from the Police Association, the families of victims of crime, and the Canberra Liberals, who have called for a review for years.”

In recent weeks, Mr Rattenbury has been repeatedly forced to defend his position on reviews into sentencing and bail, arguing he’s not sure what the purpose of one would be as several other pieces of work were already underway.

“This work is ongoing, but the current evidence doesn’t suggest a need for a wholesale review and therefore, the ACT Government has not committed to on,” Mr Rattenbury said in a statement yesterday afternoon.

“While some of the issues that have been raised have some merit for further consideration, they do not amount to a systemic failure of the justice system.”

An inquiry into dangerous driving in the ACT will hold its first public hearings next month. Dr Paterson is a member of the committee conducting the inquiry.

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A spokesperson for Chief Minister Andrew Barr described the Liberals’ statement as “silly hyperbole”.

“A ‘wholesale’ review is not required. Instead, the Attorney-General has indicated a narrower range of areas that he is pursuing and any actions that are required will be undertaken in consultation with relevant stakeholders,” the spokesperson said.

Mr Hanson has threatened to move a no-confidence motion in Mr Rattenbury if he does not agree to conduct a review into sentencing and bail.

If the Opposition moves a no-confidence motion against the Attorney-General it will be their fourth this year, having moved them against Minister for Education Yvette Berry, Minister for Skills Chris Steel and Chief Minister Andrew Barr. All three survived.

The 2020 Labor-Greens governing agreement dictates Labor and the Greens cannot support no-confidence motions except in very limited circumstances.

Tom McLuckie’s ACTnowforsaferroads petitions for legislative review of motor vehicle crimes and oversight of the judiciary close on 30 September 2022.

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William Newby10:12 pm 28 Sep 22

Barr and Rattenbury are both smart men; but for the life of me I can not follow why they are both hell bent on preventing the Territory from being a safer and fairer place to live.

A full review of sentencing in the ACT makes a lot of sense; at various stages of the year we are all shocked by news stories of repeat offenders or serious crimes that are met with little/no consequences, the position of these two men almost welcomes and supports crime in the ACT.

panificavixen1:19 pm 29 Sep 22

Well said and absolutely spot on

“Barr and Rattenbury are both smart men; but for the life of me I can not follow why they are both hell bent on preventing the Territory from being a safer and fairer place to live.”

I’ve yet to see any evidence of these two being smart. Between them, and Katy Gallagher, they have hidden behind the Human Rights Act and have given criminals more rights than law abiding and tax paying citizens.

After more than twenty years of mediocrity, Canberrans deserve better.

Finagen_Freeman6:34 pm 28 Sep 22

Thank you Dr Paterson. Clearly someone in touch with community feelings and conscious of what should be done.

As for Rattenbury, he’s not my minister, doesn’t represent the feelings of victims, professional associations and as such no longer gets my vote of confidence.

Step aside Rattenbury.

The media is linking recent court decisions to recidivists behaviour claiming that criminals are running rampant on Canberra’s streets. This recidivist behaviour apparently includes drug use, car theft, burglary, robbery, property damage and assault. However, statistics don’t prove this. Labor now has an MLA breaking ranks. Oh how the Liberals and Jeremy Hanson will love this! DPP Shane Drumgold has been very mixed in his messaging and seems to be on the side of the Liberals. The Libs have certainly been insinuating his support. The Libs are now demanding a full judicial review at taxpayer’s expense. This includes sentencing laws and the process of appointments to the bench. They are also demanding that Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury resign. The Libs have been calling for a number of audits and inquiries lately. Cynics have surmised that they are hoping that these taxpayer funded inquiries will provide input into their policy agenda for the 2024 election. Canberrans have to be ever vigilant with the Canberra Liberals and these tough on law proponents connected to right-wing conservatism. Donald Trump’s stacking of the Supreme Court in the US is a case in point. These conservative judges and their recent decisions have seriously undermined the rule of law and women’s rights in the US. It could easily happen in Australia!

William Newby10:33 pm 28 Sep 22

The media are doing so equipped with all the facts, and reporting on the public position of the Police Association.

If you live in an older suburb and only go out in the daylight hours you could easily believe the ACT has no crime.

This isn’t political, the reality is our front-line officers are dealing with a collection of well known people in the ACT, all with a long history of criminal activity, all who frequently stand before a magistrate, all who frequently are let off with diversions.

Tom’s cause is NOT about politics it is about safety and fairness in our city. Rattenbury and Barr are blocking this.

Tom McLuckie7:10 am 29 Sep 22

Well said Jack D. I too believe we should not have a Judiciary and it’s appointments influenced by our politicians but that is exactly what we have here in the ACT. Our Cabinet confirms the appointments, the AG invites ACT “stakeholders” to be part of the process and the panel involves our currently lenient judiciary. I’ve requested his office clarify who these stakeholder are and based on the point of contacts in JACS I’m still waiting for that answer 6 weeks later. It is now why we have stacked the ACT Judiciary with a bunch of left leaning justices through 21 years of Labor and Labor/green governments, and magistrates, one who even stood as a candidate for Labor. By the time anyone goes to court for my son’s death, I’m pretty sure we’ll be asked to apologise to the perpetrators and listen to the sob stories about their hard life. I don’t see you complaining at the government led inquires, the government paid for propoganda coming through our letter boxes. The “tough laws” being proposed are similar in intent to the Labor run jurisdiction called Victoria. Is that a fascist state? As they say in Scotland, your are talking pish.

Ye Gods Tom McLuckie, I might be getting scatty and forgetful but I would hate anyone to ever think I was talking pish! Labor MLA Dr Marisa Paterson has broken ranks with her party and spoken out on social media. She claims that she has been in conversations with your family over the last number of months and stated that she would use any potential inquiry into dangerous driving to ask more questions. Your questions are legitimate. Dr Paterson is your local member and is an MLA in government. She is in constant contact with government ministers. Rather than use social media to draw attention to herself and breaking ranks with her party, Dr Paterson had ample opportunity to use her connections to broker an appointment for you and your family to meet with the Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury and the Chief Minister. This way you would have had an opportunity to present your grievances and ask legitimate questions. I don’t know the AG or the CM but I do think they are reasonable people. There are always areas of improvement and further consideration in any legal system but this does not amount to a failure of the entire justice system. Unfortunately, we now have unions, police and the opposition baying for blood and demanding Shane Rattenbury’s resignation. Our ineffective opposition is also planning to waste the Assembly’s time with another no confidence motion with all the confected outrage that brings.

Tom McLuckie1:23 pm 29 Sep 22

I have met the AG and got a 5 page letter with no substance and platitudes that even he agreed could be shared publicly and no acceptance we have issues with recividism. I have also met with the Minister for Transport and got advised due to complexity it might take another 12 months to review the human rights implications of uplifting the traffic offences, even though he sent a very similar letter to the AFPA 15 months earlier. I’ll give the Police Minister some due that he at least admitted there were problems with some precedents that they make look to legislate for in order to address. I have three times requested a meeting with the CM and never had an appointment from his office forthcoming. So I believe Dr Paterson is following the community feedback and her conscience as per government inaction and lack of engagement. I have always been open to discussing with the relevant Minister but several have acknowledged my emails, but do not then respond.

Tom McLuckie1:55 pm 29 Sep 22

I have met the AG and received a 5 page letter defending the status quo and nothing to see here. I have requested a meeting on multiple occasions with the CM and silence. I have met the Minister of Transport and was advised it will be another 12 months to review the complex human rights issues with changing our transport offences. That’s despite the AFPA getting a similar letter 15 months before. I will give the Police Minister and his office their due credit for advising there are issues with certain precedents they may need to address through legislation. I have always been open to further meetings with the relevant Ministers but it appears they don’t want to continue any engagement.

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