Standard Minimum Jail Sentences



About this Item
SpeakersSpeaker; Shearan Mr Allan; Campbell Mr David
BusinessQuestions Without Notice, QWN


STANDARD MINIMUM JAIL SENTENCES
Page: 3413

Mr ALLAN SHEARAN: My question is directed to the Minister for Police. Can the Minister update the House on crime initiatives?

Mr Kevin Greene: This could take a month.

Mr DAVID CAMPBELL: I thank member for Londonderry for his long-term interest in crime policy and policing matters. The Minister for Community Services interjected that my answer could take a monthI will do my best to ensure that it does not take that long. Serious criminals are one step closer to receiving tough new standard minimum jail sentences for offences such as the murder of a child and recklessly inflicting grievous bodily harm. These provisions were approved by this place last night. The message to criminals is simple: If you commit a serious crime you deserve and will get serious time.

These standard minimum sentences deliver on our election commitment to increase sentences to match community expectations—an election commitment that the people of this State clearly voted for by returning the Iemma Government. Victims of crime groups welcomed our reforms. What does the shadow Attorney General think about this policy—or should I call him by his proper title, the shadow Minister for the Director of Public Prosecutions? The best response that the member for Epping could come up with on 13 September was, "High sentences don't bring back the child or take away the hurt of losing someone." That sort of sentiment is a slap in the face for victims and their families.

Last night the House agreed to proposals delivering on our election commitment to introduce new aggravating factors that judges must take into account when determining sentences. The new aggravating factors include that the offence was committed in the presence of a child; the offence involved a grave risk of death to other persons; the offence involved the use of a stupefying drug; and the offender has prior convictions for offences of serious personal or sexual violence. As always, the member for Coffs Harbour, the man with the matches, finds this issue very funny. What was the response of the shadow Minister for the Director of Public Prosecutions? He wants all those factors scrapped. He objects to our law that when determining a sentence a judge should consider whether the victim was a police officer. He objects to our suggestion that offenders who abuse a position of trust or authority in relation to victims cop more time behind bars. The member's response is offensive.

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Epping will cease interjecting. The member for East Hills will remain silent.

Mr DAVID CAMPBELL: The member for Epping made his position clear last night when he said, "Section 21A should be scrapped."

The SPEAKER: Order! Government members will remain silent.

Mr Greg Smith: Point of order: My point of order is relevance. The Minister for Police was asked about Government initiatives. He has attacked me and described me as the shadow Minister for the Director of Public Prosecutions. All I did was put to the House the views of both prosecutors and defence counsel about the uselessness of the Government's bill.

The SPEAKER: Order! I ask the member for Epping to resume his seat. I remind the member that when he is given the call to take a point of order he should state the point of order. I ask the Minister to return to the leave of the question.

Mr DAVID CAMPBELL: The shadow Minister just showed his irrelevance by that attempt.

The SPEAKER: Order! I call the member for East Hills to order.

Mr DAVID CAMPBELL: The Government believes that judgments should reflect community expectations. That is why we have designed these laws—although that is not the view of the Opposition. Last night the House also passed laws to abolish appointments for life of statutory legal officers, such as the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Mr Greg Smith: Point of order: My point of order is relevance.

The SPEAKER: Order! I ask the member for Epping to return to his seat. When he wants to take a point of order he should seek the call. His actions are very entertaining, but if he acts in that way for the next four years he will get very tired. I ask him to state his point of order and not make a speech.

Mr Greg Smith: Point of order: The Minister was asked a question about police initiatives. He is now moving on to an issue of Crown law, which has been dealt with in Parliament. That issue has nothing to do with police initiatives.

The SPEAKER: Order! Earlier I asked the Minister to address the leave of the question. He has only just recommenced his answer. I have yet not heard him deviate from my ruling.

Mr DAVID CAMPBELL: According to my recollection, the question was: Can the Minister update the House on crime initiatives? That is as Government members recall, and they have excellent memories. I would have thought that crime initiatives and the Director of Public Prosecutions are very much linked. It shows once again that the Opposition has no ideas. Opposition members have no ability to listen, no ability to contribute and no ability to concentrate. Last night the House passed laws to abolish appointments for life of statutory legal officers, such as the Director of Public Prosecutions. Life appointments are out of step with community expectations and are all but extinct in Australia. It is like the cooperation on that side of the House between the Liberals and The Nationals. It is almost extinct, as the Deputy Premier has pointed out.

In July last year former shadow Attorney General Chris Hartcher called the Director of Public Prosecutions "a high priest of a religious cult". That is an interesting comment from the member. He also promised to diminish the impact of the Director of Public Prosecutions' discretion over criminal prosecution. At the same time former Opposition leader Peter Debnam told the Daily Telegraph that he sees celebrity public servants such as Nicholas Cowdery as roadblocks on the path to progress.

Mr Adrian Piccoli: Point of order: The Minister is breaching a number of standing orders, in particular, Standing Order 128 relating to matters before the Parliament and Standing Order 129 relating to relevance. The member for Londonderry asked the Minister a question about crime initiatives. The Minister's answer does not relate to crime initiatives. Last night a police car was stolen in the electorate of the member for Londonderry. Why did he not ask a question about that, if he wants to know about police initiatives in New South Wales?

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Murrumbidgee will resume his seat. The question was very broad and the Minister's answer is relevant.

Mr DAVID CAMPBELL: Former Opposition leader Peter Debnam said that celebrity public servants such as Nicholas Cowdery were roadblocks on the path to progress and that he would ensure Nicholas Cowdery would be the last Director of Public Prosecutions to enjoy lifetime appointment. The member for Vaucluse nods in agreement with that comment. The Opposition's 2007 election policy document states:
      We will end the practice of life appointment of the DPP by introducing a 7 year, non-renewable limit on tenure

While the Opposition embraced that policy before the election, now it wants to disown it. The current shadow Attorney General, or rather the shadow Minister for the Director of Public Prosecutions, disagrees with his own party's policy. He said so last night. What is the reason for the embarrassing turnaround?

The SPEAKER: Order! I call the member for Murrumbidgee to order for the second time.

Mr DAVID CAMPBELL: What does Barry O'Farrell think? Nothing, as usual. No comment, no policy direction, no leadership. It has been a difficult six months for the error-prone member for Epping. At every opportunity he has run down our police. While he is always ready to speak up for lawyers and judges, he has called for the eradication of police prosecutors.

Mr Adrian Piccoli: Point of order: My point of order again relates to relevance. The question was a very simple one about crime initiatives. The Minister is not speaking about crime initiatives. He should talk about the stolen car because whoever stole it will only get a $300 fine.

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Murrumbidgee will resume his seat.

Mr DAVID CAMPBELL: On 29 May the shadow Minister said in this place:
      the time is long overdue for all prosecution matters that are currently run by the Police Force to be handed over to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Mr Andrew Fraser: Point of order: My point of order is that the Minister for Police, throughout his speech, has launched into a series of personal attacks not only on the member for Epping but also on other Opposition members. If he wishes to speak about a member, he should use the forms of the House and do so by way of a substantive motion. If he wants to continue on this line, he should not do so during an answer on government policy. He should move a substantive motion against the member for Epping. If he does not do so, he is grossly out of order.

The SPEAKER: Order! I remind the Minister that attacks on members should be made by way of substantive motion. I will allow the Minister to conclude his comments.

Mr DAVID CAMPBELL: That attack on the Police Force and police prosecutors suggesting that the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions take over all the work of police prosecutors—

Mr Brad Hazzard: Point of order

The SPEAKER: Is this a point of order on the same matter?

Mr Brad Hazzard: Yes.

The SPEAKER: Order! The Minister has not made any personal remarks in reference to the member since my ruling. I ask the member for Wakehurst to resume his seat. I will not hear further points of order on this matter. I have ruled on it and I am listening carefully to the Minister.

Mr DAVID CAMPBELL: This is the same Director of Public Prosecutions that the Coalition described as a "high priest" that it would remove. Unlike the Opposition, this Government supports police prosecutors and the very critical work they do. As a matter of policy and as a matter of principle we support police prosecutors, as we support all our police. In June, while debating the Criminal Procedure Amendment (Local Court Process Reform) Bill 2007, the Opposition again demonstrated pathological disdain for our police when the member for Epping said:
      It seems that the Government is still caving in to the police.
Mr Adrian Piccoli: The Minister is flouting several standing orders, particularly the standing order relating to relevance. The Minister had the opportunity to introduce the bill, to make an agreement in principle speech and to reply. He did not even do it.

The SPEAKER: Order! There is no point of order.

[Interruption]

The SPEAKER: Order! I call the member for Murrumbidgee to order for the third time.

Mr DAVID CAMPBELL: This State's 15,206 police do an outstanding job. They work hard under difficult circumstances to keep our community safe. The Iemma Government will continue to support them.

Mr Andrew Fraser: Point of order: Mr Speaker, you drew the Minister's attention to the fact that if he is going to attack the member for Epping he should do so by way of substantive motion. He continued that attack, flouting your ruling. I ask you to direct the Minister to be seated or to move a substantive motion against the member for Epping.

The SPEAKER: Order! The Minister has concluded his answer.