Legislative Council: Wednesday, September 13, 2023



The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI (Leader of the Opposition) (14:23): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking a question of the Attorney-General regarding sentencing.

Leave granted.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: It was reported in The Advertiser on Tuesday 12 September that a man who pleaded guilty to assault causing harm has received a suspended sentence and a two-year good behaviour bond. The court heard that the perpetrator repeatedly punched the victim, who was a security guard, even while he was laying on the ground unconscious.

My questions to the Attorney-General are: does the Attorney believe that the decision to suspend the sentence of the perpetrator was appropriate, given the violent nature of the offence, and what measures are in place to ensure that sentencing reflects the seriousness of the type of offence?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:24): I thank the honourable member for her question. It will be a very similar answer to that which I often give to the Hon. Dennis Hood, who is very vigilant in asking questions in relation to sentencing.

I don't know the exact details of the offence to which the honourable member refers, but it would be the judge or the magistrate in these cases or, in the case of a major indictable offence, perhaps a jury who would hear everything that is put before the court—all the circumstances of the offending, all the details of the offence—and then make a decision in terms of the sentencing based on that.

The ultimate arbiters of the range of sentences that can be imposed, of course, is us, the parliament. We set down the range of sentences imposed, based on community standards, for various offences. It is up to the courts to use the guidelines that parliament has set down for the range of sentences and apply the appropriate sentence, taking into account all of the circumstances in a case. As I said to you, I'm not privy, as the honourable member wouldn't be, to all the circumstances in relation to that case and what led to that sentence.

Of course, there is a safeguard if there is a sentence that is manifestly inadequate. The police, which I assume would be the prosecutor in the case the honourable member is referring to—or the DPP in more serious offences—have the ability to lodge an appeal to a sentence that is manifestly inadequate, which they often do. As I said, that is a regular thing that occurs.