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Wednesday, 18 November 1959

Mr WENTWORTH (Mackellar) . - Paragraph (g) relates to the case in which a petitioner's husband who, within a period not exceeding five years, has been sentenced in the aggregate to imprisonment for not less than three years, and has habitually left the petitioner without reasonable means of support. There is one small matter which, although not of very great importance, requires looking at and, perhaps, improving from the drafting point of view. Last night I asked the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) how concurrent sentences would be treated in the ground covered by this paragraph. I understand from him that the sentences will be aggregated. That, I think, is wrong. It very often happens that a judge will impose concurrent sentences for a series of connected offences which in total might add up to more than the period specified in the paragraph, although the judge may consider that the offences merit only a short term in prison. I suggest that this paragraph, or perhaps some subsequent part of the bill, might be redrafted to cover this aspect of concurrent sentences. I do not think that the way in which they are treated in this paragraph is in conformity with the intention of the Attorney-General or, indeed, the general understanding of the committee.

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