Submitted by Liberty Victoria on Thu, 07/02/2019 - 09:15
The proposed spent convictions bill introduced by Reason Party leader Fiona Patten MP would transform the lives of many Victorians. If passed, the proposed scheme would bring Victoria in line with every other Australian state and territory, including Queensland, which has had a legislated scheme since 1986.
Ms Patten today introduced a bill into the Legislative Council that would automatically remove the convictions for minor offences if people have not reoffended for a period of time.
The proposed scheme will introduce the following changes:
Liberty Victoria is strongly opposed to the amendments to the Corrections Act 1986 (Vic) (the Act) made by the Corrections Amendment (Parole) Act 2018 (Vic) (the amendments).
The effective imposition of imprisonment for life without parole constitutes cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and breaches fundamental human rights norms. People can rehabilitate. These amendments deny a class of offenders the basic human dignity of mercy, individual justice, and rehabilitation.
In summary, the Bill introduces an important change to the way in which family law proceedings are conducted, so that there is no undue stress and trauma caused to victims of family violence. However, the Bill does not adequately ensure that legal representation will be guaranteed and in its current form does not ensure that the right to a fair trial is not unduly restricted. Liberty Victoria submits that the Bill should not be passed without legislative protections which ensure that parties will be legally represented in circumstances where personal cross-examination is prohibited.
This Bill proposes to expand the detention and supervision order regime under the Serious Sex Offenders (Detention and Supervision) Act 2009 (Vic) to non-sexual violence offences. Under the scheme, offenders can be detained or subject to onerous supervision orders at the conclusion of their sentence. Liberty Victoria opposes the expansion of the scheme. Terms of imprisonment are imposed by an independent judicial officer having regard to all sentencing considerations, including the risk of reoffending and the need for community protection.
As previously stated in our submission to the Bail Review and commentary in respect of the Bail Amendment (Stage One) Bill 2017, Liberty Victoria is opposed to the State Government’s proposal to reverse the presumption of bail in a wide number of offences.
As noted in the Sentencing Advisory Council (SAC) issues paper, the Victorian Government announced in May 2017 that it would introduce legislation in 2018 to establish a sentencing guidelines council in Victoria. In July 2017, the Attorney-General requested the SAC to advise him on the most suitable model, following broad stakeholder and community consultation.
Liberty Victoria made a comprehensive submission in June 2017 on why the Sentencing Amendment (Sentencing Standards) Bill 2017 (Vic) is unnecessary and threatens to undermine the separation of powers. Unfortunately it appears that it will obtain bipartisan support.