Each year's state (and federal) budgets give us some indication of what the Government would like to achieve. Whether they can achieve it, of course, relies on passing the Legislative Council.
A number of measures are included in the Budget handed down this week:
- extending Drug Treatment Orders (and the Drug Treatment Diversion Program) to more offenders, by allowing access in the Supreme Court. Previously these were only available in the Magistrates Court, to those charged with less severe offences, but opening this in the Supreme Court means that they will be an option for people charged with more severe crimes.
- allowing Deferred Sentencing. The Liberal Government has been clear since Day One about their desire to abolish suspended sentences; a "deferred sentence" is similar, but the offender is technically still under bail and their proceedings are (technically) still awaiting sentence while they serve time, or perform courses, to confirm that they are being well behaved.
- introducing body cameras for front-line police officers.
- making $2.5 million available to Legal Aid over 2 years - to make up for the funds that were withdrawn by the Commonwealth last year. Arguably, this is about 12 months later than it should have been.
- a new mother and baby unit at the Mary Hutchinson Women's Prison;
- funding of $1.9 million over two years due to the cost of the appointment of Acting Justices to the Supreme Court. This has been required due to massive backlogs in Tasmania's criminal justice system and both interstate and retired Justices have heard cases in the Supreme Court over the last 12 months.
- finding a home for the newly-created Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (TASCAT), which is intended to replace a number of tribunals.