Wednesday, December 16, 2009

SENTENCING AMENDMENT BILL

Victorian Parliament Hansard

Title SENTENCING AMENDMENT BILL
House COUNCIL
Activity Second Reading
Members RICH-PHILLIPS
Date 24 November 2009
Page 5546

SENTENCING AMENDMENT BILL
Second reading


Mr KAVANAGH (Western Victoria) -- The Sentencing Amendment Bill 2009 seeks to, in effect, provide for additional legal penalties for crimes, especially assaults, motivated by hatred for people of particular races, religions or sexual preferences. In my opinion the bill's motives are noble, but to some slight extent at least it is also somewhat misguided.
To the extent that this bill seeks to punish an offender more severely for deliberate, planned violence, the principle of the bill is in my opinion correct. I think we all know that the moral wrong of an assault that is premeditated is vastly greater than that of an assault that is the result of spur-of-the-moment anger.
In my opinion penalties should be more severe when an assailant is motivated by a belief that their victim is weak and unable to defend himself or herself. The reasons why attacking those perceived to be vulnerable should be even more strongly punished are, firstly, the degree of moral reprehensibility of attacking the defenceless, and secondly, the necessity of deterring violence against those who lack the strength to defend themselves.
To offer more legal protection to members of particular racial, religious or sexual preference groups seems to be inconsistent with our principle of equality before the law. Our legal system should particularly defend those who cannot defend themselves. This principle will often achieve in practice what the bill seeks to achieve in principle -- that is, perpetrators of crimes who are motivated by hatred of particular religions, races or sexual orientations will effectively be given extra legal punishment. That is what this bill intends.
In other words, there will often be consistency between this bill and what I regard as the correct legal principle of offering particular legal protection to those in particular need of legal protection. On that basis I will not vote against or oppose the bill.
Tonight we have had a wide-ranging discussion about violence and the relationship between violence and legal protection. In my view a fundamental legal principle is that removing legal protection for some people will inevitably weaken legal protection for all people.

1 comment:

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