House debates

Wednesday, 25 October 2017


Criminal Code Amendment (Firearms Trafficking) Bill 2017; Consideration in Detail

4:45 pm

Photo of Mark DreyfusMark Dreyfus (Isaacs, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Attorney General) Share this | Hansard source

Thank you, Deputy Speaker. As I was saying, this failure of a minister is clearly not listening to anything that has been said by Labor in this debate. He was clearly not listening to me now, and I'll repeat it. He likes to call in aid the fact that Labor legislated, for a new offence of aggravated people smuggling in 2010, a mandatory minimum sentence. One has to ask: is this minister seriously suggesting that the introduction of this mandatory sentence stopped people smuggling? If he is, let him say it. But I don't think that this minister is saying that.

Mr Keenan interjecting

If he'd just shut up for a moment and listen, if this failure of a minister had any rigour, he would accept that that one example that he loves to give, because he's only interested in partisan political game-playing, is in fact evidence that mandatory sentencing does not work and has no effect at all. That's the problem with this government. The minister doesn't want to listen, and the government doesn't want to listen, to the Law Council of Australia.

Mr Keenan interjecting

He loves the sound of his own voice, which is why he's still not shutting up. He doesn't want to listen to the Law Council of Australia. He doesn't want to listen to the Judicial Conference of Australia. He doesn't want to listen to Chief Justice Barwick of the High Court—a former Liberal Attorney-General—to Chief Justice Gibbs of the High Court or to Chief Justice Kiefel of the High Court, all of whom, along with the rest of the High Court for decades, have condemned mandatory minimum sentencing being imposed by this or any other parliament in Australia, because they understand the proper role of the courts, which is to make punishment fit the crime.

This minister calls himself the Minister for Justice, but he has no idea of justice. He has no idea of the criminal justice system. He has no idea of the damage that he wishes to do with this amendment.

Mr Keenan interjecting

He's still not listening, Deputy Speaker. He won't shut up. You should try to shut him up because he would be far better off if he listened, not just to me; not just to my colleagues in the Labor Party; and not just to the eloquence of my colleague the shadow minister for justice, the member for Hotham; but to the lawyers of Australia; to the Law Council of Australia, the peak body to every state law society; to every bar council and bar association in this country; to the Australian Bar Association; to the International Commission of Jurists; to the Australian Human Rights Commission; and, as I said before, to the Judicial Conference of Australia; all of whom have condemned mandatory minimum sentences, which do not work and which damage our system of justice.


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