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Thursday, 25 November 2010
Page: 3879


Mr McCLELLAND (Attorney-General) (6:29 PM) —I present the explanatory memorandum to the bill and I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

Introduction

The Service and Execution of Process Amendment (Interstate Fine Enforcement) Bill 2010 implements a decision of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General to establish a framework that enables states and territories to register interstate court-imposed fines that have a cross-border element.

States and territories will be able to enforce interstate fines in accordance with the laws of their own jurisdiction. They will no longer be able to enforce interstate fines by apprehending and imprisoning the fine defaulter.

The measures within this bill provide a cooperative solution to one of the challenges posed by our federal system, and are consistent with the federal government’s continuing commitment to ensuring early and appropriate intervention.

SEPA Amendments

Specifically, the bill will repeal part 7 of the Service and Execution of Process Act 1992, which is commonly referred to as SEPA, which sets out the existing scheme for the recognition and enforcement of interstate court-imposed fines. The existing scheme relies exclusively on apprehension and imprisonment for the enforcement of interstate fines.

Reliance on these sanctions is no longer appropriate.

All states and territories have introduced alternative, less punitive, sanctions to enforce fines and their laws now allow for fines to be enforced by more targeted measures.

Accordingly, the bill will remove from SEPA any provisions which are inconsistent with state and territory laws that allow for alternative sanctions.

Under the new scheme, a state will be able to request the registration of a fine in the state in which a fine defaulter resides. Upon registration, that state will be able to enforce the registered fine in the same way as it would enforce a locally imposed fine. When the fine has been paid, the payment will be transferred back to the state or territory which originally imposed the fine.

I understand that, while a number of states and territories have now completely removed their courts’ authority to issue warrants of apprehension and imprisonment in relation to fine defaulters, some jurisdictions still retain these measures as a last resort.

The bill will confirm that this is no longer an option for enforcing an interstate fine, regardless of whether a state or territory still permits fines to be ‘served out’ by a penal servitude.

The amendments will also impact upon how Commonwealth fines are enforced against offenders who move between jurisdictions, because these fines will be enforced as ‘interstate’ fines in accordance with the new part 7 of SEPA.

Conclusion

Legislating to enable more targeted remedies, and allow what are essentially civil matters to continue to be treated within the civil justice system, is consistent with the Government’s Access To Justice Framework.

In particular, the bill promotes the application of proportionate responses and early intervention as the preferable approach, rather than allowing matters to be escalated to the point where someone is imprisoned and the state incurs enormous expense in so imprisoning them.

In conclusion, this bill will enable the states and territories to establish a scheme to recognise fines quickly, simply and efficiently and to enforce them in another jurisdiction using appropriate and targeted means. I commend the bill to the House.