Published: 02 December 2019

Being tough on crime and protecting our children and frontline workers from sexual and serious assaults must include measures that achieve effective deterrents, proportionate outcomes and protection of victims.

Minimum mandatory sentencing, as shown through extensive research, does not reduce crime nor act as a deterrent. Further it reduces the likelihood of a guilty plea resulting in further traumatisation for victims of crime and can result in unjust outcomes for some sectors of society including aboriginal people and those from low socio-economic backgrounds.

Minimum mandatory sentencing inappropriately inserts the parliament into the courts, politicising the judiciary and eroding the separation of powers between the parliament and courts. Minimum mandatory sentencing is an insult to the intelligence and expertise of appointed judges and magistrates, suggesting the parliament knows better than highly qualified members of the judiciary with all facts of a case before them.

If the parliament wants to send a message to the judiciary that sentences for these abhorrent crimes should attract longer custodial sentences, increasing the maximum sentence can give the courts clear guidance of the seriousness with which we, the people of Tasmania, view these crimes.

All perpetrators of serious sexual assault against children should and do receive custodial sentences. It is up to the court to determine the sentence not the parliament to dictate it but parliament can raise maximum sentences, giving the judiciary more scope for longer prison terms.

The repeated attempts to introduce laws that do not work is playing populist politics, appealing to public fear and our genuine abhorrence of these crimes while refusing to heed the informed voices of many who oppose this based on evidence and research.

Interestingly, it was the Labor Party in South Australia who sought to introduce similar laws when in government, seeking to score political points rather than introduce evidence based legislative reform.

This 'tough on crime' approach is a distraction used by government to draw attention away from other pressing issues including our health and prison system.

If government claims this is not an example of pure political populism appealing to the fears and prejudices of others, playing wedge politics leading up to the May Legislative Council elections, this can only be demonstrated if the Bill is brought on for debate in March when parliament resumes.


The Advocate Monday 2 December, 2019

Go Back