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Crimes Amendment (Penalty Unit) Bill 2017

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2016-2017

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

 

CRIMES AMENDMENT (PENALTY UNIT) BILL 2017

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

(Circulated by authority of the

 

Minister for Justice, the Hon Michael Keenan MP)

                                                                                                        



 

CRIMES AMENDMENT (PENALTY UNIT) Bill 2017

general Outline

1.                 This Bill amends the Crimes Act 1914.

2.                 It increases the amount of the Commonwealth penalty unit from $180 to $210, with effect from 1 July 2017. It also delays the first automatic adjustment of the penalty unit to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) until 1 July 2020, with indexation to occur on 1 July every three years thereafter.

FINANCIAL IMPACT

3.                 The Bill will increase the revenue returned to the Consolidated Revenue Fund for pecuniary penalties imposed for the commission of Commonwealth criminal offences.

 



STATEMENT OF COMPATIBILITY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS

Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011

Crimes Amendment (Penalty Unit) Bill 2017

4.                 This Bill is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 .

Overview of the Bill

5.                 The Bill amends the Crimes Act 1914 to increase the value of the penalty unit for Commonwealth criminal offences from $180 to $210, indexed every three years to Consumer Price Index (CPI). It also delays the first automatic indexation of the penalty unit to CPI from 1 July 2018 until 1 July 2020.

6.                 Penalty units only apply where a person or company has committed a Commonwealth offence. The increase to the penalty unit value will only apply to offences committed after the amendments come into force. The amendment to the value of the penalty unit will not impact on current proceedings for Commonwealth offences. 

Human rights implications

7.                 The Bill does not engage any of the applicable rights or freedoms.

Conclusion

8.                 The Bill does not engage any of the applicable rights or freedoms. The penalty unit measures in the Bill are compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in the definition of human rights in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 .

 



NOTES ON CLAUSES

Preliminary

Clause 1 - Short title

1.                    This clause provides for the short title of the Act to be the Crimes Amendment (Penalty Unit) Act 2017.

Clause 2 - Commencement

2.                    This clause provides for the commencement of each provision in the Bill, as set out in the table. Item 1 in the table provides that the whole of this Act will commence on 1 July 2017.

Clause 3 - Schedules

3.                    This is a formal clause that enables the Schedule to amend Acts by including amendments under the title of the relevant Act.



 

Schedule 1 - Amendments

 

GENERAL OUTLINE

 

The purpose of Schedule 1 is to make amendments to the Crimes Act 1914 relating to the Commonwealth penalty unit.

 

These amendments increase the Commonwealth penalty unit amount from $180 to $210, and delay the first automatic indexation of the penalty unit to Consumer Price Index (CPI) until 1 July 2020. This measure was approved and announced as part of the 2016-17 Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook.

 

Penalty units are used to describe the amount payable for monetary penalties imposed for criminal offences in Commonwealth legislation and Territory ordinances. Commonwealth penalties are generally expressed in terms of penalty units rather than specific values to assist with the adjustment of penalties across the Commonwealth statute book.

 

The penalty unit mechanism allows the maximum monetary penalty for all offences under Commonwealth law, or Territory ordinances, to be automatically adjusted with a single amendment to section 4AA of the Crimes Act. This removes the need for multiple legislative amendments and ensures that monetary penalties in Commonwealth legislation and Territory ordinances remain comparable.

 

Maintaining the value of the penalty unit over time is necessary to ensure it reflects changes in real terms. This ensures that financial penalties for Commonwealth offences keep pace with inflation and continue to remain effective in deterring unlawful behaviour.

When the penalty unit was introduced in 1992, its value was set at $100. This value was adjusted to $110 in 1997, $170 in 2012, and to $180 in 2015. These increases were made broadly in line with changes in the CPI. In 2015, the Crimes Act was amended to introduce an indexation mechanism to automatically increase the value of the penalty unit every three years in line with CPI. Pursuant to these amendments, the first adjustment to CPI will occur on 1 July 2020, with indexation to take place on 1 July every three years thereafter.

 

Crimes Act 1914

 

Item 1 - subsection 4AA(1) (definition of penalty unit)

 

Subsection 4AA(1) of the Crimes Act specifies the monetary value of a penalty unit at any particular time. Currently, subsection 4AA(1) defines ‘penalty unit’ as the amount of $180. This item provides that the new definition of ‘penalty unit’ is the amount of $210.

 

Item 2 - subsection 4AA(3)

 

Section 4AA(3) provides for the automatic indexation of the penalty unit every three years.  Currently, subsection 4AA(3) provides that an ‘indexation day’ will be 1 July 2018, and every third 1 July following that date.  This item amends subsection 4AA(3) to delay the first indexation day until 1 July 2020 and every third 1 July following that date (that is, 1 July 2023, 1 July 2026, 1 July 2029 etc). These indexation days will be when the penalty unit value is adjusted in line with changes in CPI.

Item 3 - Application of item 1

 

This item provides that the amendment made by item 1 applies in relation to an offence committed on or after the commencement of this item. This will ensure that the increased value of the penalty unit to $210 will apply only to offences committed after the Schedule commences on 1 July 2017.