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Thursday, 16 February 2017
Page: 1282

Mr KEENAN (StirlingMinister for Justice and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Counter-Terrorism) (10:14): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Crimes Amendment (Penalty Unit) Bill 2017 will ensure our courts can continue to punish breaches of Commonwealth law with strong, financial penalties that help to deter future offending and keep Australian communities safe.

Penalty units are used to set the maximum fines which can be imposed for offences in Commonwealth legislation and territory ordinances.

Commonwealth penalties are generally expressed in terms of penalty units rather than specific values. This means that any updates to penalties are applied efficiently and consistently across the statute book. The Commonwealth penalty unit is also indexed to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) every three years, to ensure that financial penalties keep pace with inflation and maintain value over time.

The bill will increase the amount of the Commonwealth penalty unit from $180 to $210, with effect from 1 July 2017. It will also delay the first automatic CPI adjustment of the penalty unit until 1 July 2020, with indexation to occur every three years following that date.

Strong penalties are a central tenet of an effective justice system. This bill will strengthen courts' ability to impose appropriate punishments on serious offenders, including those involved in organised crime, white-collar crime, fraud and cybercrime. This measure is estimated to result in increased revenue to the Commonwealth of $80 million over the next four years, which will support the government's efforts to repair the budget and benefit everyday Australians.

Tackling crime and improving community safety is a top priority for this government. The Crimes Amendment (Penalty Unit) Bill 2017 underlines this commitment by strengthening the value of the penalty unit and ensuring that our financial penalties remain an effective deterrent and punishment for those breaking Commonwealth law.

Debate adjourned.