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Wednesday, 29 November 2000
Page: 20091


Senator NEWMAN (Minster for Family and Community Services and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women) (11:12 AM) —I have listened carefully to Senator Bartlett, but I think that it is important that he understand just how this amendment has come forward from the government. The current legislation provides for where the court has indicated in sentencing the debtor that it imposed a longer custodial sentence on the debtor because he or she was unable or unwilling to pay the debt. In those circumstances, the current legislation says the secretary must waive the right to recover the proportion of the debt that arose in connection with the offence. But the government has received a formal request from the Director of Public Prosecutions that this provision be changed because it is inconsistent with sound sentencing principles. So the government has brought forward the changed legislation. We in the government have moved to satisfy the Director of Public Prosecutions by inserting `expressly stated that'. In imposing the sentence, instead of indicating, the court has to expressly state that, because the debtor was unable or unwilling to pay the debt, the sentence was longer than the court would otherwise have imposed, and in those circumstances the secretary must waive the right to recover the proportion of the debt. So at the request of the Director of Public Prosecutions, who says that the provision needs to be changed because it is inconsistent with sound sentencing principles, we have moved from `indicates' to `expressly stating that'. I think the Senate would be very well advised, as the government has been, to take account of and to implement the advice that has been received from the Director of Public Prosecutions.