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Criminal Law Consolidation (Assaults Causing Death) Amendment Bill

Second Reading

Adjourned debate on second reading

(Continued from 24 February 2016)

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (00:34): I rise to indicate Advance SA's position on this bill. I understand this bill will see a minimum gaol sentence of eight years imposed against those who cause a death by making physical contact while intoxicated. The bill addresses what is colloquially known as a one-punch attack. The problem we as a community have with alcohol-fuelled violence is alarming. My office undertook research a few months ago and found that, in the last few years, more people have died as a result of being attacked by a person who is impaired by drugs or alcohol than soldiers who have died while serving our country at war. This is disturbing.

The fact that there is a cohort of people out there who think it is okay to attack someone once they have had a few drinks or otherwise is alarming, and I agree with the Hon. Robert Brokenshire that something needs to be done. However, I believe the focus should be on education and early intervention. The government has focused their efforts on this issue and there seems to have been a slight improvement. I hope it is something that will continue over summer when a higher number of people are out and about.

I do not think that mandatory sentencing is the answer. The courts need to have the discretion to impose sentences that they believe are appropriate. These are often complicated matters and applying a broad brush approach can itself lead to injustices. Whilst I acknowledge that there is a problem here, Advance SA believes that preventative measures through mentoring, education and early intervention programs for substance abuse would be much more effective than simply locking people up.