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The House: Sanctuaries, Legislation And Crime

The powerful political rhetoric that crime issues brings forth from politicians was heard long and loud in the House this evening.

After an unusual procedural motion delayed the report back from select committee of the Crimes (Home Invasion) Amendment Bill, (See earlier story in the headlines wire.) MPs eventually got down to the business at hand.

Justice Minister, Tony Ryall, sought the title of protector of the public's home or sanctuary. He said the Justice system belonged to the people and not the "politically correct". The Minister said it was his job to reflect the public's concern at a numerically small number but violent home invasion cases.

Mr Ryall said that Labour were two faced on crime issues, where they talked about getting tough, but voted soft. He said Mr Goff said one thing about longer prison sentences, but had been overwhelmed by a liberal caucus.

Labour's Justice Spokesman, Phil Goff, said Mr Ryall was only telling half the story and that the "incompetent legislation" would not make any difference to a young girl who was raped by her father or someone who shot someone through the window. Mr Goff said Mr Ryall was designing policy for political purposes. Mr Goff and a number of other opposition MPs spoke at length about the arbitrary nature of the definitions of a home.

The former Justice Minister, Sir Douglas Graham, said there was a great deal of emotion in the debate, but law and order needed careful consideration. He said politicians had throughout history had whipped up a furore over law and order and many had been far better at it, than any debater heard of late.

Sir Douglas said the bill was justified in that when people intermingled with society they took a risk and there were even risks faced by people living in their own homes. However he said the risk posed by people entering homes unlawfully were not a risk that people should have to assume.

Sir Douglas' distaste for the political rhetoric came through clearly in his speech. He said the law was not only about deterrence and rehabilitation, it was also about punishment and society had the right to exact punishments for crime it abhorred.

Sir Douglas said he had thought long and hard about the Bill and decided on balance it was worthy and should proceed.

MPs from both sides of the House accused each other of political posturing numerous times and when the House came to the vote it was passed on to its committee stages by 62 to 58.

The rest of the evening session will be taken up with consideration of the select committee report on the Criminal Justice Amendment Bill (No. 6). The law change seeks to lower the threshold at which judges can hand down terms of non-parole to offenders, it has wider support amongst MPs.

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