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Criminal payouts bill "wussy", says Franks

Criminal payouts bill "wussy", says Franks

Wednesday 15 Dec 2004

Stephen Franks - Press Releases -Crime & Justice

ACT Justice spokesman Stephen Franks today said ACT will support Justice Minister Phil Goff's Prisoners and Victims Claims Bill to select committee so it can be beefed up.

"Of course the Bill is better than where we are today, but I'm amazed that after all the fuss and months of extra time, Mr Goff has ended up with something so transparently wussy," Mr Franks said.

"When I wrote my bill to end the compensation claim scandal in September it took a week and I knew there were some hard issues that with more time could be better dealt with.

"With all the resources at his disposal, Mr Goff hasn't, for example, dealt with the unfairness of allowing claims by victims alleging mental stress, while the ACC scheme blocks compensation to worse hurt victims of physical injury. He's left the judges in full possession of their self-asserted powers to invent remedies for alleged breaches of human rights law they define.

"Mr Goff has expressly ruled out automatic availability of compensation amounts to pay debts to society, such as unpaid child support amounts and student loan balances. He hasn't changed the Sentencing Act to make sure that judges order reparation against the possibility of the criminal coming into money. At present it stops a reparation order if the criminal has inadequate means.

"The Minister has even carefully protected the criminal's right to name suppression when they are seeking compensation. This means some victims will never even know there is a fund that they could claim against.

"The Bill looks substantial because it prescribes so much procedure. But Mr Goff is to afraid of his United Nations friends to adopt the straightforward approach of stating that compensation should only be payable where losses are established, and that it should not be there for judges to use redress as a punishment for prison management decisions they do not agree with," Mr Franks said.

ENDS


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