Wednesday, 19 August 2015
Crimes Legislation Amendment (Powers, Offences and Other Measures) Bill 2015; In Committee
I support Senator Lazarus's amendment, and I did support the government in terms of the 'knowingly concerned'. Even though I had reservations in relation to that, I think that prosecutors indicate that in respect of 'knowingly concerned' there are issues in terms of dealing with insider trading, fraud in commercial activities, child exploitation rings and the like. So I just want to put that on the record.
In relation to this particular amendment, the committee, at paragraph 2.38 of its report, made a point in relation to the submission and the evidence given by Ms Jane Dixon QC on behalf of Liberty Victoria in relation to both 'knowingly concerned' and the mandatory minima. An example is given where a husband and wife are travelling together and the husband is a mad keen sporting shooter and he is taking his guns over to New Zealand, stupidly but perhaps not with any really dangerous plans. If his wife fills out the card she is perhaps knowingly concerned, even though she is only very peripherally involved in what he does. She could end up, because of this extension, with a further potential provision of mandatory sentencing. 'Knowingly concerned' does have a lot of good work to do in terms of dealing with those offences difficult to prosecute. For drug dealers, child pornography rings, insider trading, fraud and commercial offences it has a useful role in getting those people convicted. But in the example given by Ms Jane Dixon QC, in that part of it relating to the offence, technically what is indicated could be seen to be arms trafficking, even though there is no evil intent on the part of that person. You take away complete discretion of the courts with the mandatory minima. Even though the nonparole period could still be set by the court at a fairly low level, the person is being stigmatised with a minimum five-year jail sentence, and that concerns me.
So I would be grateful if the government can explain how it deals with that issue of taking away the court's discretion as to mandatory minima. I think the example given at paragraph 2.38 at page 20 of the committee's report is a telling one, and it does concern me greatly. That is why I believe it is appropriate to support Senator Lazarus's amendment.