Following on from the passage yesterday of new sentencing legislation, shadow Attorney General Bill Stefaniak said the ACT Government is soft on crime because they didn’t pass the Liberals’ amendment.
The ABC said the Opposition wanted to toughen the sentences available for a range of offences and introduce standard non-parole periods, bringing the ACT into line with NSW.
Mr Stefaniak said, “The bill that passed today simply does not go far enough. It says the Stanhope Government is soft on crime and it gives far too much weight to the rights of the criminals and virtually ignores the rights of victims of crime. The Stanhope Government has today ignored its constituency and allowed the ACT to continue to be seen as a soft touch when it comes to sentencing of criminals.”
These comments are interesting in light of recent stories here in which many among you have noted the apparent leniency of our judiciary.
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Jon Stanhope retaliated today with one of the more catty press releases I’ve seen in a while. It opened with, “Shadow Attorney General Bill Stefaniak was obviously in need of a long holiday, if the short- and long-term memory lapses he evidenced yesterday were anything to go by”, and continued along in the same vein.
The Chief Minister took offence at Mr Stefaniak’s accusations of being soft on crime because “Mr Stefaniak and his Liberal colleagues unanimously supported the Bill in the Assembly” [his emphasis not mine].
â€œThis is bizarre in the extreme, to vote in favour of a piece of legislation, then rush off to issue a press release arguing that the very laws to which you have just agreed give too much weight to the rights of criminals and virtually ignore the rights of victims of crime,â€ Mr Stanhope said.
The other memory lapse Mr Stanhope said Mr Stefaniak suffered from was in relation to the Human Rights Act. Apparently the shadow Attorney General expressed some concern the provisions for non-association orders in the new sentencing legislation may contravene the Human Rights Act.
â€œIn fact,” said the bill of rights’ father, “the provisions, along with the rest of the sentencing legislation, have a certificate of compliance with the Human Rights Act â€” a fact of which one would hope Mr Stefaniak would be aware, since he is the chair of the scrutiny of bills committee, whose job it is to ensure that proposed laws comply with the Act.”