14 May 2019
The Gunner Labor Government has introduced amendments to the Youth Justice Act 2005 and Bail Act 1982 which the Opposition fears categorically erodes transparency and removes consequences for youth offenders.
Fortunately, the Social Policy Scrutiny Committee has secured an extension of time to report to the Parliament on this Bill from May to August which will allow additional time to consider the impact of proposed changes.
Deputy Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro said it is concerning that the Bill entitles even repeat youth offenders to be granted bail, except in the most extreme circumstances.
"Under the proposed law, youth offenders can only be remanded in custody if they have been accused of a ‘prescribed offence’ and ‘present an ongoing and specific risk to the community’" she said.
Breach of bail conditions will also cease to be an offence for youth offenders, removing yet another mechanism for accountability.
"What is the point of having bail conditions if there are no consequences for breaking them?" Mrs Finocchiaro said.
"Labor is placing the interests of youth offenders over those of Territorians and victims.
"The Gunner Labor Government will play down the potential consequences of the proposed Bill but we have huge concerns that these changes will result in further increases in crime.
"This is all part of Labor’s permissive, hand-holding approach to crime with the Gunner Labor Government placing the rights of youth offenders above community safety."
Some examples from the Criminal Code of crimes that would attract automatic bail under the new legislation include:
- Section 189A(2)(a) Assaults on police where the police officer suffers harm
- Section 174F Driving motor vehicle causing death or serious harm
- Section 201 Abduction, enticement or detention of child under 16 years for immoral purpose
- Section 202 Abduction of child under 16 years
- Section 226B Home invasion and invasion of business premises
- Section 174C Recklessly endangering life
- Section 166 Threats to kill
- Section 243 Arson
Further, the Bill reduces transparency of the Court system by closing out the media and members of the public.
"The Opposition will defend the principle that the courts should be open and only closed at the discretion of the judge in certain circumstances," Mrs Finocchiaro said.
"Justice must not only be done but be seen to be done."