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Judges Should Call the Government’s Bluff

“Justice Minister Phil Goff’s attacks on judges’ sentencing practices are highly questionable, not because punishment is adequate, but because trendy politicians are responsible for leaving the beasts on the streets, not the judges,” said ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks.

Stephen Franks said convention stops judges from responding to attacks by Government Ministers. “Some criticism is amply merited, but when from leftist politicians it is just cowardly diversion,” he said.

“Few criminals serve more than two thirds of their sentences. That is not the judges’ fault. That was squarely the decision of Parliament.

“Indeed, if criminals did serve the sentences that judges give them many would be in prison for nearly twice as long as now.

“If the judges did increase sentences there would not be the prisons to hold them. Corrections Minister Matt Robson has refused to build even the prisons his department has told him we need for the forecast prison musters under current sentencing practices.

“The judges could deal simply with this current wave of diversionary attack by politicians. If they increased nominal sentences by 50%, under current law the early release rules would mean criminals then served approximately their current sentences.

“We would soon see how Mr Goff dealt with his Alliance fellow Ministers and his soft colleagues when the judges did respond to the Withers referendum message. Though Mr Goff might prefer not to do anything for another year or so, and then only just before the next election when it will be necessary to look tough again. We would soon see whether his criticism of judges was merely passing the buck for outcomes his Government covertly wants,” said Stephen Franks.


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