Simon Walker, can I suggest that such a forum is …

Comment on Mandatory sentencing or not, that is the question by Kieran Finnane.

Simon Walker, can I suggest that such a forum is a time for giving clear and precise answers that do not require conjecture as to their thrust? I also spoke to Mr Giles today to get clarification, as reported. In a perfectly civil exchange, he told me he did not accept that minimum sentencing for categories of assault is mandatory sentencing.

For the benefit of readers, here is a transcription of the exchange between Trish van Dijk from the floor and Adam Giles, with a final comment from Matt Conlan.

Trish van Dijk: I would like to ask Adam Giles and the CLP generally, but to Adam Giles perhaps, given that the prison is absolutely chock-a-block and overcrowded to the maximum, and given that there are 90% or thereabouts of Indigenous people in the prison, and I know law and order is a big [item on your agenda], would you be considering bringing back mandatory sentencing which would exacerbate the matter to an almost impossible rate. And probably do no good because the recidivism out at the prison is very, very high too. So, given that it’s a legal challenge that maybe mandatory sentencing is not legal, would the CLP be pursuing that agenda as they have promised to do?

Adam Giles: Thanks, Trish, for the question. No, we won’t be pursuing mandatory sentencing. I can say I am emotionally disturbed by the level of Indigenous incarceration and the recidivism rate. I think in 2012 in a nation such as Australia the level of Indigenous incarceration is appalling. I’ve been around politics long enough, I know that if it was a Liberal Government and this was happening, Labor would be singing from the rafters, absolutely bagging us about what was happening.
We lock up black Territorians seven times more than they ever did under Apartheid in South Africa and [inaudible]. It is disturbing what is happening. There are fundamental problems in our social psyche across the Territory. We know many of those issues and we’ve got to put in place reform at the structural level to try to fix some of these things.
We’ve spoken about the Planning Commission, housing, outstations, regional councils, economic development. There’s a range of areas we need to address to try to get to the root causes of some of the problems. I believe we need to do a number of things and that’s why we’ve got a policy around mandatory rehabilitation and voluntary rehabilitation for people who have got chronic alcohol misuse or abuse problems. So that anyone picked up three times in a six month period will have to go to either voluntary rehabilitation or mandatory rehabilitation. We don’t want people clogging up our police stations night after night, getting washed in and washed out because they’re drunk on the streets. We want to try and help people, we don’t want those people ending up through the prison system which is what’s happening now as a result of breaking into people’s houses or commercial premises to get grog. It’s not working under the current alcohol regime. All we’re doing is locking up black Territorians and I’m not happy with it.

Trish van Dijk: So is that a definitive no?

Adam Giles: No, right at the start, no.

Matt Conlan: No, it’s not happening.

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