The Criminal Code Amendment (Firearms Trafficking) Bill 2016 seeks to
amend the Criminal Code Act 1995 to introduce a mandatory minimum
sentence of imprisonment for the offences of trafficking firearms or firearms
parts within Australia and into and out of Australia. The bill also increases
the maximum penalties for these offences.
This will be the fourth time the Government has sought to legislate for
mandatory minimum sentences for firearms trafficking offences.
In the previous inquiry on the 2015 bill, the majority of submissions
received by the committee raised significant concerns about the mandatory minimum
The Migration Act 1958 contains mandatory minimum sentences for
certain people smuggling related offences. These are the only Commonwealth
offences that currently attract a mandatory minimum sentence. There are
currently no mandatory minimum penalties in the Criminal Code Act 1995.
During the previous inquiry into this bill, the Law Council of Australia
(LCA) submitted that:
[I]ncreasing the maximum penalty to 20 years imprisonment or
a fine of 5000 penalty units, or both, reflects community concern regarding
the potential seriousness of the offence.
Many submissions also acknowledged that it was appropriate to increase
to increase the maximum penalties and that an increase in penalties
acknowledges the gravity of firearms trafficking offences.
The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) submitted that:
[T]he imposition of mandatory minimum sentences raises the
real prospect that the sentence imposed will be disproportionate to the
culpability of the offender or the gravity of the particular offence because it
is set without regard to the individual circumstances of the offender and
context of the particular offence.
1.10 The Australian Greens acknowledge the seriousness
of firearms trafficking and the need for sentences that reflect the seriousness
of the offending.
1.11 The Australian Greens do not support mandatory
minimum sentences for any offences.
1.12 There is no clear evidence that mandatory
sentencing laws have a deterrent effect. In addition, they can result in
injustice and remove the court’s discretion to impose a sentence that takes the
individual circumstances of the offender and the offence into account.
The Australian Greens recommend clauses relating to mandatory minimum
sentencing be removed from Schedule 1.
Senator Lee Rhiannon
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