Correctional Services (Parole) Amendment Bill

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (15:43:41): The Greens support this Bill before us. We acknowledge that this �Government made a commitment in the 2014 election to introduce reform in this area of work. The Correctional Services (Parole) Amendment Bill 2015 will amend the Correctional Services Act 1982 to implement changes to the process for release on parole of a prisoner sentenced for murder, a life sentence.

The �Bill ensures that a prisoner sentenced assists and cooperates with investigative authorities to locate the remains of the victim or victims. The ‘no body, no parole’ changes compel the Parole Board to give consideration to the degree to which life sentence prisoners who have applied for release on parole have cooperated with authorities in the investigation of the offence. It is supported by victims’ advocacy groups and, indeed, the Law Society of South Australia.

We thank the ��Minister’s office for providing us with a briefing and undertaking to get back to us with responses to the concerns we raised on behalf of the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement. My office has been informed that the �Minister’s office was not aware of this �Bill being brought in for debate in the Legislative Council today, so we are still awaiting a written response from the �������������������m ��M�inister’s office with regard to the concerns we raised. I raise those concerns again today, on behalf of the ALRM of South Australia.

Clause 6(1)(6) and (7) requires the Parole Board not to grant parole to a person convicted of murder unless satisfied that the prisoner ‘has satisfactorily cooperated in the investigation of the offence’ either before or after they were convicted of the offence. The ALRM has raised a question in regard to this clause. They ask, ‘How can he or she cooperate in relation to a crime he or she genuinely knows nothing about?’ Could the minister please clarify what the process is for someone who cannot cooperate with the investigating authorities in this situation? The ALRM has also raised the following with my office:

Only a judge of Supreme Court status is able to sentence a prisoner for murder; only a retired judge of that status should sit as the proposed Review Commissioner. It would be inappropriate (for example) to have a retired licencing, or industrial judge sitting as Commissioner without the benefit of any experience in criminal law sentencing or penology.

Could the �Minister please respond to those questions during the committee stage of this �Bill?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills, Minister for Science and Information Economy, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Business Services and Consumers) ( 15:46 :30 ): I thank honourable members for their second reading contributions and their indicated support during the second reading debate, and I look forward to it being dealt with expeditiously through the committee stage.

Bill read a second time.

Committee Stage

In committee.

Clause 1.

The Hon. T.J. STEPHENS: Obviously, my crossbench colleagues are comfortable with us proceeding with the parole bill. I said in my second reading contribution that the Liberal Party is quite comfortable. We have had the appropriate consultation and a positive negotiation with the government. As I said earlier, we support the bill and, as long as my crossbench colleagues are ready to go, hopefully there will be a speedy passage.

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: I have done the rounds and I understand that all honourable members, including the crossbenchers, are supporting this. The bill obviously seeks to make changes to the process for life sentence prisoners to achieve release on parole. It strengthens the supervision of these offenders in the event that they are released on parole, ensuring that the Parole Board considers electronic monitoring and making life on parole mandatory. These provisions will further assist parolees to lead offence-free lifestyles. As indicated, I thank honourable members for their support for this important bill.

Clause passed.

Remaining clauses (2 to 11) and schedule passed.

The CHAIR: The question is that this be the title of the bill.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Chair, I did raise questions in the second reading contribution. I would hope that those two questions would be addressed.

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: Are you able to just remind me again of those questions?

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Certainly. I can repeat them, if you like, or I can pass you the bit of paper.

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: It is perhaps easier just to read them.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: How can someone cooperate in relation to a crime that they genuinely know nothing about?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: The board would satisfy themselves that they had been cooperative. They can access a number of reports that they would consider; for instance, a report from the Commissioner of Police along with other reports like the community safety reports under section 3A and section 4, and other matters contained under section 7 and section 6.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: The second question raised by the ALRM is that only a judge of Supreme Court status is able to sentence a prisoner for murder and only a retired judge of that status should sit as the proposed review commissioner. Can the �������������������Minister clarify this and also clarify that it would not be, for example, a retired licensing or industrial judge sitting as the commissioner without any experience in criminal law sentencing?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: The intent of the act was not to be too prescriptive. The intention was to make available as broad a pool of candidates as possible from which to choose. It did not want to narrow the pool, so it can be a person who is a former judge of the High Court, Federal Court, Supreme Court or any other court in any state and territory. So obviously they can come from any court but, obviously, a great deal of consideration and weight will be given to those who have a relevant background and relevant experience. The view during consultation was that the act should not be overly prescriptive: it should open up the prospective candidates, not narrow them down too closely.

Title passed.

Committee Stage

Bill taken through committee without amendment.

Third Reading

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills, Minister for Science and Information Economy, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Business Services and Consumers) ( 15:57 :39 ): I move:

That this bill be now read a third time.

Bill read a third time and passed.

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