The Deputy Chair of Committees (Hon Martin Aldridge) in the chair; Hon Stephen Dawson (Minister for Environment) in charge of the bill.

Clause 1: Short title —

[speeches and comments of various members]

Hon ALISON XAMON : I want to contribute a little to the discussion that is occurring at the moment. I thank the minister for tabling this letter from Amanda Forrester. I have to say that the Greens made it very clear in our contribution to the second reading debate that it was only the absence of mandatory sentencing that made us prepared to contemplate an extension of the range of sentencing options that may potentially be made available to a magistrate. One of the things I particularly appreciate about the advice in the letter that has just been tabled is that it pretty much articulates exactly why the Greens are so opposed to the introduction of mandatory sentences, particularly for those sorts of offences. To be clear, we oppose mandatory sentencing anyway, but it goes to the heart of why mandatory sentencing in this sort of legislation has a counter-effect in achieving good, quality outcomes.

I do not know why the government changed its mind. Obviously, I am not privy to cabinet deliberations and why that decision was made, but I applaud the government for making that decision. I am really glad it did. It probably should not have made the election commitment in the first place. In fact, I look forward to an election campaign in which mandatory sentencing is never mentioned again other than perhaps major parties crying into their tea and saying how sorry they are for ever introducing it in the first place and that they will do everything within their power to ensure mandatory sentencing is removed from the Criminal Code in the future. That would be great but I suspect that is not likely to happen in the near future because people do not necessarily fully appreciate the perverse impacts on justice that mandatory sentencing can potentially impose. I thought I would add those comments because I appreciate that members of the opposition also went into the election calling for mandatory sentencing, so they are probably unhappy that the government has decided not to proceed with that element of its election promise. I want to say how relieved I am that mandatory sentencing has been taken off the table. It allows for more sound legislation, as evidenced by exactly the sort of informed commentary in the letter in front of us. As I say, it means that the Greens can contemplate this legislation based on whether it will potentially lead to some positive impacts in dealing with the scourge of methamphetamine without having unintended consequences. I thought I would add that different perspective.

[speeches and comments of various members]

Debate interrupted, pursuant to standing orders.

[Continued on page 2726 .]


Parliamentary Type: