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Goff Admits Defeat On Sentencing Act - Already

Thursday 4 Jul 2002

ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks said it is quite incredible that Phil Goff is already conceding that changes may have to be made to his new Sentencing Act - just four days after it came into force.

"The Act has quite simply fallen at the first hurdle -namely the first major case sentenced under the new legislation. Haden Brown after bludgeoning his mother with a hammer and forcing her to spend the rest of her life in care, may be out of jail in just three years because the judge was unable to reconcile the Act's tough posturing on maximum sentences with the clear direction given to judge's that they must apply leniency.

"Now Mr Goff, while clearly trying to imply that the judge - and not the Act itself - was wrong in this case is now saying, and I quote, that the Government "...has the option of changing the legislation if it believes that its necessary..."

"ACT has been stridently telling the Government and Mr Goff since this legislation was first introduced into Parliament that it is fatally flawed and ignores totally the wishes of the Withers referendum.

"Why did Mr Goff insistent on pushing the legislation through virtually unchanged, only to turn around the moment it is enacted and virtually admit there is a problem. Or is the proximity to the election and the realisation that public opinion is swinging against him the motivating factor?

"The Prime Minister knows the Act does not mean what it say because in her latest credit card called "The Next Steps" she promises tougher sentences for the most serious offenders. But that's what Labour have been saying we have under the new Sentencing Act.

"Nobody thinks that Mr Goff's announcement about changing their new law is anything more than political manipulation of the public because there is an election in three weeks - after all they have had two-and-a-half years and went completely in the opposite direction thinking the public could not tell the difference. Mr Goff may have gulled the commentators who don't want tough sentencing anyway, but the judges' action will show what the law really means" Stephen Franks said.


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