"Prescribed minimum mandatory sentences are the very antithesis of just sentences"

CLANT has criticised the Northern Territory's new mandatory sentencing laws as unfair, unprincipled, unworkable, unnecessary and unaffordable.

Amendments to the Sentencing Act (NT) were passed in the Territory Parliament on 14 February 2013, allowing for mandatory sentencing of certain categories of violent offenders.

President Russell Goldflam predicted that the laws would see more people, the great majority of them Aboriginal, going to gaol, although he expressed relief that the Attorney-General had at least provided exceptional circumstances provisions.

Mr Goldflam expressed particular sadness that this legislation was passed on the eve of the Ceremonial Sittings to farewell Justice Mildren on the occasion of his retirement after 21 years as a judge of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory. 

Mildren J, a CLANT Life Member, has been a strong critic of mandatory sentencing both on and off the bench. In a media interview, he recently described mandatory sentencing as a "cancer". His powerful and precise obiter inTrenerry v Bradley (1997) 6 NTLR 175 have been frequently cited: “prescribed minimum mandatory sentences are the very antithesis of just sentences”.

For further details, see this article at ABC News Online 15 February 2013.

2013 Bali Conference Registration now open

14th-CLANT-Conference-posterOn-line registration for our Fourteenth Biennial Conference, on the theme "Victims of the System", from 22 to 29 June 2013, is now open here at the website of our Conference organisers, Solusi Business Solutions.  The Conference will be held at our traditional venue, the gracious Bali Hyatt in Sanur.  Book your flights now and save:  Darwin to Denpasar fares are currently available for about $500 return. 

Don't be a victim of the system!  Register early, and avoid disappointment.

CLICK HERE FOR THE CONFERENCE PROGRAM

Click on REGISTER NOW to register for the conference and reserve your accommodation at the Bali Hyatt. Please note that Solusi  Business Solutions, our  conference organisers, have secured rooms in all categories.

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Judicial (et al) appointments

CLANT welcomes the appointment on 17 December 2012 of:

  • Graham Hiley QC as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory
  • Wojciech Jacek ('Jack') Karczewski QC as the Northern Territory Director of Public Prosecutions
  • Sally Sievers as Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commissioner
  • Elizabeth ('Libby') Armitage as a Northern Territory stipendiary magistrate

Two of these appointees, Jack Karczewski and Libby Armitage, have been long-serving active members of and contributers to CLANT.  At the time of her appointment, Libby was our Vice-President, and her presence on the Committee will be sorely missed.

    The return of mandatory sentencing

    On 6 November 2012, the Northern Territory Department of the Attorney-General and Justice published details of the Northern Territory Government's current program of criminal law reform in this 'Consultation' document.

    CLANT welcomes the commencement of the Evidence (National Uniform Legislation) Act 2011 on 1 January 2013.  We also acknowledge the substantial improvements which have been made to the "one punch homicide" legislation.

    However, CLANT strongly opposes the Criminal Code Amendment (Assaults on Workers) Bill 2012 and the Sentencing Amendment (Mandatory Minimum Sentences) Bill 2012.  In his Second Reading Speech, the Attorney-General spoke robustly about the need for a “clear message”, “genuine gaol time” and “tougher sentences”. If passed, these Bills will see the return of laws akin to the Territory's notorious and discredited mandatory sentencing scheme of the 1990s, which proved to be so harsh, unfair, ineffective and costly.  Read our pdfmedia release dated 15 November 2012 on this issue.

    CLANT also opposes the Serious Sex Offenders Bill 2012, which is based on similar indefinite detention provisions enacted in some other Australian jurisdictions which have been found by the United Nations Human Rights Committee to violate the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as detailed in pdfthis article by Professor Bernadette McSherry, first published in October 2012 in Precedent, the journal of the Australian Lawyers Alliance (reprinted with the kind permission of the author and the Australian Lawyers Alliance).

    Chief Justice speaks out on alcohol

    In October 2012 at Alice Springs, Riley CJ, while sentencing offenders convicted of serious alcohol-related offences, commented in each case on the need for effective alcohol measures.  These comments were made in the context of the abolition of the Banned Drinkers Register by the newly elected Northern Territory Government, and renewed debate about what to do about grog.  Here (with emphasis added) is what the Chief Justice said. In March 2013 at Alice Springs, in the course of sentencing Peter Delano Hudson (SCC 21237010), Riley CJ made the following further strong comments in a similar vein:

    The courts have been speaking out for years requesting that the problem be addressed. One obvious step to be taken would be to limit the flow of alcohol to people such as yourself. Regrettably, based upon my experience in the courts, the situation is getting worse rather than improving. It is unfortunate and terribly sad, that genuine efforts to curb the flow of alcohol that could address the problems of those who suffer from abuse of alcohol are not pursued.

    CLANT respectfully agrees.

    Titus Ani

    Titus Ani is a Nigerian national who has been on death row in Kerobokan Prison, Denpasar, Bali for over 8 years following his conviction on drugs charges.  A pro bono team of Australian lawyers, including CLANT's Colin McDonald QC, is currently preparing his case for extraordinary judicial review in Indonesia's Supreme Court, with the object of having his sentence commuted to a term of imprisonment.  Mr Ani's legal team considers that his case has merit, with reasonable prospects of success.  In addition, it could set a precedent which would lead to the lives of many other similarly circumstanced condemned prisoners in Indonesia being saved.

    CLANT has previously donated $10,000 to meet some of the expenses in this case, and on 5 November 2012, following consultation with Members, the CLANT Committee resolved to commit a further $20,000.  For further information, please read:

    Back to the Bali Hyatt

    CLANT is delighted to announce that we have confirmed our traditional venue, the gracious Bali Hyatt in Sanur, for our Fourteenth Biennial Conference, from 22 to 29 June 2013.  Book your flights now and save:  Darwin to Denpasar fares are currently available for about $400 return.  The theme for the Conference will be "Victims of the System".  If you are interested in presenting a paper, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. now.

    The Silver Dingo

    CLANT celebrated its Silver Jubilee in glittering style under a full moon on a beautiful balmy Darwin evening.  Founding pdfPresident Colin McDonald QC spoke on the formation and history of CLANT, and Jon Tippett QC made observations on the errors, faults and quirks of selected unfortunate judicial officers before whom he has appeared.  Silver Dingoes were presented to each of our eight Life Members, as well as to Attorney-General John Elferink MLA, Ian Read SC, Elizabeth Morris SM and Jon Tippett QC.  Here is President Russell Goldflam's pdfcitation to the Attorney-General. As an unexpected bonus, a real dingo turned up to share the historic occasion. 

    CLANT website

    CLANT (belatedly) moves into the new(ish) millennium by launching this website. One of our principal objectives is to archive on-line the papers which our members have given over our 25 years of Conferences. We are in the process of contacting the authors seeking permission to publish, but have lost contact with some of you. If you have a paper on this site and want it removed, please let us know and we will do so. If, on the other hand, you have delivered any papers at CLANT conferences which are not already on this site, we would also like to add them to our collection. Please send us a copy for inclusion in our on-line archive.

    Silver Jubilee Dinner

    CLANT (belatedly) celebrates its 25th birthday with a Silver Jubilee Dinner on 29th September 2012, at Pee Wee’s at the Point. (We actually turned 26 this year.)

    Attorney-General appointed

    CLANT congratulates the Hon. John Elferink MLA on his appointment as Northern Territory Attorney-General, Minister Minister for Justice and Minister for Correctional Services.

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