MS TIERNEY (Minister for Corrections) (12:49:28) — I was dealing with the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities in my summing up. I mentioned that the opposition had raised the issue of the statement of compatibility for this bill. The statement of compatibility considers that this bill limits rights in the charter, and that is based on European and international jurisprudence, as noted in the Minogue High Court decision. That is where I finished my contribution just before question time.
Opposition members have also said that the government should challenge the view that the bill was incompatible with the charter and the fact that we did not show that we are supposedly soft on crime. Firstly, not only is the government introducing this bill to ensure that any prisoner who is convicted of murdering a police officer is subject to the toughest parole regime but this government has strengthened sentences for offences against emergency workers. The standard sentence scheme, which commenced on 1 February this year, sets a standard sentence of 30 years for the murder of an emergency worker on duty, including a police officer.
Secondly, the statement of compatibility was prepared by reference to case law, including case law cited by the High Court. People can differ about how human rights are limited by the bill, but ultimately it is irrelevant because the bill overrides the charter and the charter has no application to the bill. The overriding of the charter is necessary to ensure that the provisions operate as intended so that prisoners convicted of murdering a police officer, including Craig Minogue, are denied parole except under the most exceptional circumstances. We do not take this lightly. This is very important, and this is the course that the government has deemed to be the best, given the circumstances.
In closing, I thank the members for their contributions to this debate and for their cooperation in allowing this bill to go forward this week. I look forward to further questions being dealt with in the committee stage.
Motion agreed to.
Read second time.
Sitting suspended 12.52 p.m. until 2.03 p.m.