MS TIERNEY (Minister for Training and Skills) — I rise to make a very short contribution in relation to this bill, given that the description of what this bill intends to do has been covered extensively by previous speakers. The main purpose of the bill is to restrict the use of community correction orders (CCOs) for serious offences. That is the key to what is before us today. What we are doing here today is a result of the government deciding to actually put a line in the sand when it comes to serious offences. This was triggered by the fact that there were three rape cases that did not attract a custodial sentence. We believe that that simply is not good enough. We believe that that does not meet community expectations — that it is entirely inconsistent with community expectations. I do agree that the purpose of this bill is to restore the original intent of what the community correction orders were all about. I also agree that it is regrettable that we have seen a need to restore the true essence of what CCOs are all about.
Having said that, can I also say that, contrary to the contributions by Ms Pennicuik and Ms Patten, there are some significantly innovative ways that CCOs can be utilised, and indeed CCOs do address many issues in terms of crime prevention and mitigating against the repetition of crime. We see that in terms of mental health treatment, drug and alcohol treatment and a whole range of other aspects.
It is very important when we talk about corrections that we continue to have a conversation about how we can ensure that there are mechanisms in our system that do not require people to necessarily go to jail. But I seriously believe, after speaking to a range of people in the community, that there has been a situation that is unacceptable. I do not believe that anyone in the community would accept that the crime of rape should not attract a custodial sentence. That is where the polarisation lies between the views of the government and the views of the Greens and the Sex Party. There is no way through that — it is just different views. I believe that Ms Pennicuik accepts that, the government accepts that and the opposition accepts that.
As I said before, I believe that this is an important piece of legislation that does send a very clear message to people that if you rape, it is highly likely that you will be in jail. In today’s climate that is a very, very important and salient condition that we need to put out there in the community. I do not believe that the vast majority of the community believes that it is okay to rape and not serve time. With those few words, I commend this bill to the house.