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Wednesday, 15 March 2000
Page: 12807

Senator ABETZ (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence) (11:58 AM) —I will briefly put the government's position in relation to Senator Harradine's proposed amendments. While the government supports the removal of the WA laws from the bill, the government has stated throughout this debate that its concern is for the impact of mandatory detention laws on children. The government has foreshadowed that it does not support this bill.

Mandatory sentencing is, of course, a difficult and complex issue for any government. Given the complexity of the issue, the government intends to give careful consideration to the recommendations in the Senate report in preparation of its response. Unlike others, the government is not interested in grandstanding on this issue. The government is committed to achieving real results and workable solutions to the problem of repeat juvenile offending for the people of Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

The government recognises that the states and territories have a difficult job in dealing with the impact of crime and they have felt it necessary to introduce mandatory sentencing laws in order to deal with repeat offending. These are essential issues for state and territory governments to deal with on the ground, and the government is conscious of the problems they face in balancing the need to curb repeat crime and the community's concern to protect young people.

This is particularly important where real resolutions to these problems cannot be achieved without action from the state and territory governments. Simply dictating that laws should be removed does nothing to deal with the complex and serious problems which gave rise to the perceived need for mandatory detention laws in the first place. The government is not in the business of merely dictating to the states and territories what their laws should be for the sake of it. The government is considering the Senate report and will give consideration to a response after it has had the opportunity to consider the matter in detail.