Hansard debatesSearch Hansard
Mr O'DONOHUE (Eastern Victoria) tabled following statement in accordance with Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006:
I table the following statement in accordance with section 28 of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 ('charter act'). I make this statement of compatibility with respect to the Crimes Amendment (Ramming of Police Vehicles) Bill 2017 ('the bill').
In my opinion, the bill, as introduced to the Legislative Council, is compatible with human rights as set out in the charter act. I base my opinion on the reasons outlined in this statement.
Overview of the bill
The bill creates a new offence of ramming a police vehicle. The bill provides for a two-year statutory minimum and a 10-year maximum jail term for those who commit this new offence, with any term of imprisonment to be served cumulatively, not concurrently.
Charter rights that are potentially relevant to the bill
Protection from cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment (section 10)
In my opinion, the bill does not limit these charter act rights. The proposed amendments introduce appropriate sentences to effectively deter the serious crime of ramming a police vehicle.
The bill amends the Sentencing Act 1991 to introduce a statutory minimum sentence for adult offenders found guilty of ramming a police vehicle.
In my opinion, the statutory minimum sentence introduced by the bill does not limit the protection from cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment, as it does not compel the imposition of a grossly disproportionate sentence.
In addition, the terms of the new offence that carries a presumptive minimum sentence are clear and therefore do not engage the charter's right against arbitrary detention.
The bill contains safeguards that protect against the imposition of a sentence of imprisonment that is inappropriate, unjust or disproportionate, including the availability of full sentencing discretion where a court is satisfied of the existence of a special reason in relation to an offender or the particular circumstances of a case as set out in section 10A of the Sentencing Act 1991.
Therefore, in my opinion, these amendments do not limit the right set out in section 10.
Right to a fair trial (section 24)
Section 24 of the charter act provides that a person charged with an offence has the right to have the charge decided by an independent and impartial court after a fair hearing.
While the bill prescribes the minimum sentence for adults for the offences of ramming a police vehicle, the court has discretion to impose any sentence within the parameters of the minimum and maximum sentences.
Furthermore, as outlined above, clause 4 of the bill aligns the statutory minimum sentencing provisions with those in the Sentencing Act 1991, for other offences, such that limited exemptions apply as set out in section 10A.
I therefore conclude that the bill is compatible with the rights set out in the charter act.
I consider that if there are any limitations of charter rights, those limitations would be reasonable and demonstrably justified pursuant to section 7(2) of the charter act.
Hon. E. J. O'Donohue
Member for Eastern Victoria Region