The Liberal Nationals strongly endorse the concept and intent of a spent convictions regime.
The Legal and Social Issues Committee Report on this issue contained significant evidence from those who had committed lower level offending in their youth who subsequently struggled to obtain employment, housing and other services because of the stigma of their criminal record.
A person who makes a relatively minor mistake at 19 or 20 years of age should not have to continue to pay a price for such offending when they are 60, 70 or 80.
However, the line must be drawn at lower level offending and Daniel Andrews’ legislation yet again goes too far.
By making the cut off for eligibility for the spent convictions scheme at 30 months imprisonment, Daniel Andrews is going against the cross-party Parliamentary Committee recommendations and further than most other Australian jurisdictions, including New South Wales.
The Bill’s provision to implement an application scheme to have a conviction spent for serious offenders, including for those who have served up to 60 months in prison, will be an enormous administrative burden for the Magistrates Court and will enable even more serious offenders to possibly have their slate wiped clean.
Daniel Andrews’ Bill will also make any conviction for offenders under the age of 15 spent automatically, including for heinous crimes such as rape, murder and terrorism. This is raising the age of criminality by stealth and should only be done after full public debate and the conclusion of the COAG process currently underway.
The Liberal Nationals will move amendments to remove the Magistrates Court appeal process and the provisions relating to all convictions, including serious convictions, for those under 15 to be automatically spent.
If our amendments are lost, we will oppose the Bill.