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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations
    The Honourable Cameron Dick

    Parliament passes laws to strengthen state’s sentencing regime

    Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations
    The Honourable Cameron Dick

    Thursday, October 28, 2010

    Parliament passes laws to strengthen state’s sentencing regime

    A package of reforms that strengthens Queensland’s criminal sentencing regime has been passed by Parliament today.

    Attorney-General Cameron Dick said the amendments to the Penalties and Sentences Act included laws to establish the state’s first sentencing advisory council.

    He said the new laws were part of the Bligh Government’s continued strengthening of the state’s sentencing regime to ensure it reflected community expectations.

    “Our new laws ensure that offenders convicted of sexual offences against children under 16 years old must serve an actual term of imprisonment unless there are exceptional circumstances,” Mr Dick said.

    “The indecent treatment of a child by an adult can have potentially devastating and lifelong consequences for young victims.

    “These reforms mean that unless there are exceptional circumstances, anyone convicted of these types of offences will go to jail, which is not only what the community expects but what should happen.”

    Mr Dick said today’s amendments also targeted offenders who repeatedly break the law, by enshrining the principle that judges and magistrates must treat each relevant previous conviction as an aggravating factor when determining penalties.

    “An offender’s criminal history is an important factor when setting penalties, to show whether the offence was an uncharacteristic lapse or an ongoing disregard for the law,” he said.

    “While it must be acknowledged that sentencing is one of the most complex tasks facing judges and magistrates, these reforms reflect the community expectation that the previous convictions of repeat offenders should be taken into account when determining an appropriate sentence.”

    Mr Dick said the new laws compelled the court to treat the age of a child victim of a violent offence or an offence that causes the death of a child as an aggravating factor when determining whether an offender should be declared a serious violent offender.

    “This will require judges to recognise the disproportionate power of an adult over a young child and the much lower level of force needed to cause serious injury,” he said.

    Mr Dick said the reforms also paved the way for the establishment of a sentencing advisory council which will give the community greater involvement in the sentencing process.

    “Members of the public and victims of crime will have a voice on the new sentencing advisory council, along with experts in law enforcement, criminal law, and juvenile and Indigenous justice issues,” he said.

    Media contact: Attorney-General and Industrial Relations Minister 3239 3487