The new state government introduced legislation during the final sitting of Parliament last year to satisfy some pre-election commitments.
The three bills introduced were,
- Education and Training Reform Amendment (School Safety) Bill 2010 (Explanatory Memorandum here, Statement of Compatibility here, Second Reading speech here.)
- Police Regulation Amendment (Protective Services Officers) Bill 2010. (Explanatory Memorandum here, Statement of Compatibility here, Second Reading speech here.)
- Sentencing Further Amendment Bill 2010. (Explanatory Memorandum here, Statement of Compatibility here, Second Reading speech here.)
The first two bills allow state school principals to ban people from bringing weapons on to school grounds and expand the number and role of Protective Services Officers, respectively.
Sentencing Further Amendment Bill 2010
During the Second Reading of this Bill the Attorney General said,
Suspended sentences are a fiction that pretends offenders are serving a term of imprisonment, when in fact they are living freely in the community. A suspended sentence does not subject an offender to any restrictions, community service obligations or reporting requirements. As a consequence, many offenders actually incur no real punishment whatsoever for the offence they have committed and make no reparation to the community. Often those released on suspended sentences go on to commit further crimes.
You may remember that the previous government removed suspended sentences as an available disposition for certain offences just before the last election. (We discussed the Sentencing Amendment Act 2010 here). That Act will probably commence mid-year and will prohibit suspended sentences for offences designated as serious offences under s 3 of the Sentencing Act 1991.
The effect of the pre-election amendments wasn’t to make imprisonment mandatory for serious offences. Dispositions such as bonds, fines and community work remain available. But if the sentencing judge awards imprisonment it is not possible to then suspend the sentence.
The Sentencing Further Amendment Bill 2010 adds offences to the list of offences which cannot be suspended, by creating a new category of offences the legislation refers to as significant offences. These changes will not affect sentencing in the Magistrates’ Court at all as any offence dealt with summarily is considered not to be a significant offence, even if it would be a significant offence if dealt with in the County Court.
The designated significant offences are,
- causing serious injury recklessly
- aggravated burglary
- arson causing death
- trafficking in a large commercial quantity of a drug of dependence
- trafficking in a commercial quantity of a drug of dependence)
The Second Reading speech suggests that a further removal of suspended sentences is planned for the next session of parliament.
The ‘What’s New’ icon at LDMS
The Elucubrator discussed at 4.2.1 Victorian Legislation of his Using the iPad in legal practice — Part 4 that Part V of the Interpretation of Legislation Act 1984 gives an authorised electronic version of a Victorian Act or Statutory Rule, or a printed copy of an authorised electronic version, the same evidentiary value as a hard copy Act or Statutory Rule printed by the Victorian Government Printer.
To make this move into the 21st century possible the Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents website are progressively adding authorised versions to their site. As they become available, a weekly list of updates is published in the What’s New folder.
Other improvements to the site will also be flagged in that folder. Check it out.