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 this 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).