Ms CHAPMAN (Bragg—Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (11:19): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I congratulate you on the passage of the preceding motion and trust that this will be very helpful in respect of the parliament in the future, together with the transparency, which is richly required.
I rise today to speak on the Statutes Amendment (Youths Sentenced as Adults) Bill 2017. Members I think should be reminded as to why we are here dealing with this legislation. In October 2016, a then 15-year-old boy caused the death of Mrs Nicole Tucker during an act of dangerous driving and was subsequently convicted of the same. This mother of two was the innocent victim in a horror crash, and I think comprehensively and universally the public were appalled.
The District Court treated, in the hearing of the matter in an adult court as distinct from the Youth Court, the then 16 year old and applied the law as necessary under the Young Offenders Act to prioritise and identify a schedule in that act for sentencing of youths. The decision that ultimately was handed down and the sentence that followed mid this year ordered that the youth be sentenced to imprisonment for a period of three years, four months and one week and that there be a non-parole period of 18 months. It was backdated to take into account a period in custody, and the consequence, which became very public, was that from mid this year this young man would serve a term of imprisonment but potentially not be able to apply to be released within 10 months.
Unsurprisingly, the public were responsive to significant media portrayal of this being grossly inadequate, and hence the question of whether a youth should have some special consideration in sentencing. What was missing from that immediate outcry were the circumstances that prevailed since this event had occurred in late 2016 and the continuous opportunity for this government to come clean about the circumstances surrounding the death of Mrs Tucker and, in particular, the circumstances surrounding the guardianship and consequential responsibility of the government in respect of this young boy, then 15.
The government were asked questions, with both the Attorney-General and minister Close being responsible for the guardianship of children under state care. Questions were asked, including: did she know that this boy was at large in a car, hoon driving on the major freeway, resulting in the death of this woman? Did she seek a briefing when it had been identified that this boy had been out in these circumstances and had caused this obviously consequential tragic outcome? What action had she taken about it? What explanation was there for this young man being out unsupervised, breaking the law, killing an innocent mother of two in those circumstances? Complete silence.
We would expect the Attorney-General, as he did, to deflect the matter: 'Look, we are not going to make any comment about what the department did or didn't do in respect of this boy surrounding this. The criminal matter is before the court.' Up until the middle of this year, when sentencing occurred, there is some basis for that, but I think they scandalously avoided the real question.
The real question is what the agency and the minister who are responsible for this boy should have been telling us in the department about what they were doing about it, or what they were failing to do, and reassuring the public about what they would do in circumstances where children under the guardianship of the minister—thousands of them in this state—should be home in bed, at school or, where appropriate, obviously complying with the law. They should not be out hoon driving, killing innocent people.
To rub salt into the wound—and I think the Tucker family has suffered a gushing wound as a result of the death of Mrs Tucker—the Minister for Education and Child Development came into this parliament this year and she was asked to provide an answer to her question back in October 2016, which she had taken on notice. She was asked this question on 22 June 2017:
Although the minister isn't going to tell us how long the 15-year-old youth was missing, will she tell the house if she is satisfied that the process that the department was to follow when a child goes missing was in fact undertaken in this case and the matter was referred to the police?
Do you know what her answer was on 22 June this year? 'I will take that on notice and get back to the chamber.' Well, guess what? Not a word. Here we are in the closing days of September and we have still not had a word from the minister responsible for this boy to explain to the house just those fundamental questions to give the people of South Australia some reassurance that the thousands of young children who are under her care are not out with an opportunity to repeat this type of despicable behaviour.
This young boy is in prison and he will be there for a number of months more, obviously, but that will not bring back Mrs Tucker and it will not give reassurance to the public that the government is activating a circumstance when a child for whom the government is responsible does not come home, goes missing, breaks the law, might steal a car or do other things, which is completely unsatisfactory and which they have turned a blind eye to.
We do not even know if this boy was missing for weeks before or whether the minister even gave a toss about him. It is completely unacceptable conduct on behalf of the government. We gave the government an option. Apart from coming into the parliament and giving us some reassurance about this particular case, we gave the government an option, as we did during the case of Mr Nemer some years ago, that the government and the Attorney-General in particular should exercise his responsibility and power, which is exclusively vested with him, to direct the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to proceed with an appeal against the sentence, which of course is open to the DPP.
For members who are not familiar with the history of this, for a long time it used to be that only the defence could appeal if they thought the sentence was manifestly too harsh. In recent decades, we have modernised and changed the law and the DPP can also do that. He has a certain time frame to be able to consider that and to lodge an appeal if he thinks the sentence is manifestly inadequate. It is important to remember that because, although it is not something that we should ask the Attorney-General to intervene on if he does not do it, although he has the power to do it very often, we still think that is there for good reason as well; that is, when the DPP of the day may not have reasonably taken into account all the factors.
One of the practical things I think deficient in just having the DPP review this is that it is usually the DPP's office that has prosecuted these cases in the first place, and so asking them sometimes to consider an appeal and so on is not an easy fit. I have always been of the view that separate counsel should always look at cases when they look at an appeal because sometimes fresh eyes are important. Nevertheless, we vest in the statutory body, the independent DPP, the responsibility to consider if an appeal is appropriate, and we have a provision in the act that also says the attorney-general of the day can direct the DPP to do that.
To remind members who were not here, Paul Nemer pleaded guilty to discharging a firearm and endangering the life of Mr Geoffrey Williams. Mr Nemer, using a gun owned by his father, shot at the delivery van operator, who sustained a head and eye injury. Mr Nemer was sentenced to three years and three months imprisonment with a non-parole of two years. The sentence was suspended.
Unsurprisingly, there was adverse public comment, as there has been in the Tucker case. The attorney-general of the day, Mr Atkinson, now our Speaker, was on radio on the day of the sentence defending it and saying that it could not be appealed. Later, he claimed that the DPP could not be directed to appeal. He then claimed that the appeal would be a waste of money.
However, the then shadow attorney-general, Robert Lawson QC, consistently claimed that the sentence had shocked the public conscience and that the attorney-general should direct the DPP to appeal and had the power to do so. The refusal of the attorney-general of the day, Mr Atkinson, to do so was responded to by Mr Lawson with, 'That is an insult to the people of South Australia, yet it won't pursue an appeal in this matter.'
Subsequently, the attorney-general stood down pending the Randall Ashbourne scandal and attorney-general Holloway assumed the role. Attorney-general Holloway, acting in that position, directed DPP Paul Rofe to appeal. The appeal was successful and a further sentence was imposed. To conclude the background to this, Mr Nemer's counsel lodged an appeal to the Full Court, claiming that there was no power to direct the appeal and that the power should be confined to the imposition of guidelines.
Prior, Ann Vanstone J dismissed the appeal, with the chief judge dissenting, but there was clear legal mandate for the proposition that the attorney-general did have the power to direct the DPP, and in this case it was ultimately exercised. Thank goodness for acting attorney-general Holloway, who agreed, probably under huge public pressure, to do so. The appeal was granted, the sentence was extended and that matter was dealt with.
In the 14 years since that time, certainly I have not, as shadow attorney, called for intervention in this manner in a case such as this, but in this instance I did. I made it perfectly clear in June this year after the sentence that, if the DPP did not appeal, the Attorney-General should direct him to do so. I made it quite clear, in stating that an innocent mother was killed by this young man's reckless hoon driving, that while the young man's chances of rehabilitation should be considered in sentencing so must the need to protect the public and to punish him for a crime that can never be reversed. There is nothing we can do to bring back Mrs Tucker.
Those are the options we gave the government in light of their scandalous silence in explaining why this boy was even out at large committing this shocking offence, that there was an opportunity and a legal course of redress for the DPP to appeal and at least that opportunity may have, as it did in the Nemer case, provided some reassurance, I suppose, to the public that the legal process is there and that for good reason should be instituted for the purposes of protection in these tragic cases.
The government's answer through all this was ultimately, about two or three weeks later, to come to the parliament and say that the way they are going to deal with this is not to direct the DPP to do anything. They are going to introduce a bill, which will amend the Sentencing Act, to say that in cases where a youth is tried and dealt with in a superior court—in an adult court, in a District Court or in the Supreme Court where these are usually prosecuted—then he is going to be treated not under the sentencing law that applies to young people but under adult law.
At first blush, you would think, for the really serious cases where there has been a pattern of previous serious criminal misconduct, where there has been no response to otherwise effective rehabilitation programs, where there is a consistent behaviour that suggests that the serious legal misconduct and criminal offending are going to continue, why should somebody who might be 17 or just under the age of 18 not be treated as though they were an adult?
There are a number of reasons why we have a different set of rules for children in all sorts of areas. We do not let them have sex, we do not let them marry, we do not let them vote and we make them go to school. There are a whole lot of laws that we apply to children because of the fundamental recognition that children are not adults and do not have the same cognitive development as adults.
That is why when youths commit serious offences or take part in illegal conduct they frequently demonstrate what children suffer from at that time—that is, they have not developed the requisite moral reasoning, such as prudence, empathy, self-regulation or the cognitive brain development of the frontal lobe where higher mental processing is carried out, such as problem-solving, judgement, impulse control and planning, which renders them incapable of making adult decisions.
The data that supports these assertions is universal. That is why every civilised country in the world signs up to recognising that in certain areas children should be protected, that they ought not have imposed on them decision-making that adults are capable of making and that they should be dealt with differently in a number of categories.
It does not mean that all children are irresponsible or act in an immature manner all the time. Quite obviously, we have a number of teenagers who, I hope, represent many of the families who are in this chamber. With good family support and a good education, children grow up in an environment where they might break a few rules and they might disobey their parents from time to time, but they are good, decent citizens and they are on their way to contributing to our society as we want them to in the future and living fulfilling lives.
It is not to say that every child once they turn 18 suddenly has a light bulb moment and becomes mature and responsible and ensures that they act in a manner we expect of adults. Clearly, there are situations where people turn the age of 18 years and they are still immature and they still do stupid things and they still make decisions, particularly with the intent of committing criminal offences, which are totally unacceptable.
Our society says, 'You're 18 or more and you have grown up, and if you haven't grown up you're going to take the consequences of that.' That is fair. That is why we have a separate set of sentencing laws to protect them and also to ensure that we recognise that, when dealing with a lack of maturity and the lack of cognitive development, imposing adult sentences does not always have the best outcome for children.
Long gaol terms and lack of rehabilitation are, frankly, symptomatic of a lot of our adult prisons, where there are grossly inadequate rehabilitative programs. Obviously, we want children—as we do with adults—to be rehabilitated where it is possible. That is an advantage because eventually they get out and eventually they live next door to somebody and we have to deal with them. But are we going to lock up every 15 year old until they are 65 or 70 or dead because we are going to start treating them as adults? That is what this bill is actually asking us to do: to remove the distinguishing legislative protection recognising children's cognitive development and abandon that and bring in legislation that will require that all of these children be dealt with.
As I said to my own party room on this—and I have said it publicly—it is always very disturbing to me to go to the children's prisons (we have two campuses now). I remember my last visit to the Magill campus—it was probably the most penetrating. It was when a young 12-year-old boy was charged and awaiting trial for the alleged murder of his father. To all intents and purposes, he looked like any other 12-year-old boy. He was doing some artwork and was a decent kid on the face of it. He obviously got caught up in very difficult circumstances. I am sad to report that, of course, he is now paying the price. He has actually been in custody.
We have to understand that very serious offences—murder obviously being near the top of the list—are a very serious thing. So is hoon driving, in which you kill somebody on the road through reckless indifference to whom you might harm through that lunatic type of behaviour. It concerns me that we are going to put in an automatic provision that the trial judges in the District Court or Supreme Court are going to have to apply adult law to all of those who are determined to be tried in an adult court, whether it is because it is a serious offence, or whether there are security issues, or whether there are other adults who have been charged and there is a juvenile involved and it is appropriate that it be dealt with in an adult court, or the sheer physical assize and history of an accused. There are lots of different reasons why cases are heard in superior courts.
The assertion that has been put by a number of stakeholders in this area in relation to cognitive function identifies that repeated contact with the youth justice system is often impaired by childhood experiences, neglect, physical and sexual abuse, difficulties and early disengagement from school, mental health issues, repeated breakdown of foster care placement and exposure to drug use within a family unit and extended social networks.
I do not think there is anyone in this house who would be unsympathetic or would not have even an understanding of this. We all have constituents who come to us in circumstances where they touch on child protection or truancy from school, etc., where there is a very great need to assist families, or what is left of a family in some instances, to help protect and nurture and give children some opportunity in their future.
If we are to follow a process now with this bill and throw that out, many of the stakeholders would find that unacceptable. The people who have put submissions to me, which I think have been very powerful, which includes the Law Society of South Australia, and more particularly the Children's Law Committee, are practitioners experienced in supporting a cohort of young people that the bill is targeting. They have raised, I think, almost disbelief, but great concern that our commitment in this area could be undermined as a civilised society and the important recommitment by us, as legislators, to understand the developmental process of children's brains essentially up until the age of 25 years.
They also point out, and this is a matter I raised during debates on the recidivist young offenders legislation, which we also opposed in this house and which, incidentally, passed and which, incidentally, has been reviewed and which, incidentally, has comprehensively failed to create a situation for recidivist young offenders—the really bad kids in the sense of continuing to offend—to give them these extra punitive provisions. It has not worked. We did not think it ever would.
I can recall Justice Hora coming here as then premier Rann's thinker in residence, a leading world expert, apparently, on juvenile crime from the United States. She wrote a report while she was here and she reaffirmed that this type of approach was clearly not the way to go. She recommended strong supervision of young people—not just leave them to, perhaps, a parole officer or a probation officer once a week, dropping in to see them or seeing if they are going to school or giving them a phone call—strict supervision by a judge.
We raised the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice during those debates, and I will again today. Article 3.1 of the convention states:
In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.
Furthermore, according to the Beijing Rules, 17.1(d), the wellbeing of the juvenile shall be the guiding factor in the consideration of her or his case.
Article 40.1 of the UNCROC makes it clear that community safety is a relevant factor in sentencing and states:
States Parties recognize the right of every child alleged as, accused of, or recognized as having infringed the penal law to be treated in a manner consistent with the promotion of the child's sense of dignity and worth, which reinforces the child's respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of others and which takes into account the child's age and the desirability of promoting the child's reintegration and the child's assuming a constructive role in society.
This bill essentially undermines the fundamental principle of proportionality and abolishes, in fact, that principle by requiring a sentencing court, under the Criminal Law Sentencing Act, to set mandatory minimum non-parole periods for murder to 20 years for youths sentenced as adults and mandatory minimum non-parole periods of four-fifths the length of the sentence of a serious offence against the person as required by 32(5)(ba) of the same act.
We want some answers to some questions in relation to the applicability of that, because it seems, on the face of it, that is the case and it is very concerning if that is thrown out. This is all as a result of one case in which this government had fundamentally failed to protect and supervise a child who then went on to kill an innocent woman, and failed—specifically, the Attorney-General—to even direct the DPP to review that matter. All because of that.
It is also noted, and I will remind the government that commissioned this report, that in the 2000 report of Monsignor Cappo, To Break the Cycle, at page 43 he recommended that both community safety and rehabilitation of young people needs to be assertively pursued. Also, that any strengthening of the objectives of the act, taking into account community safety, should only occur in the context of stronger focus on rehabilitation. This bill is clearly inconsistent with that recommendation. I appreciate that the new Minister for Police and new Minister for Correctional Services has really only been in the role a fairly short time, but he will soon realise that his gaols are full and that there will be a lot of matters that he will need to attend to.
In relation to juveniles—which is the responsibility specifically of another minister—and their incarceration in particular, if we break down this barrier with this bill and insist that children in these circumstances are sentenced as adults, we are breaking our commitment as a civilised community, we are breaking our commitment to the United Nations rules, the Beijing Rules, and also the Cappo report, just to name a few.
In relation to the likelihood of this making any difference to children—and the Minister for Correctional Services can note this, because these children are going to end up in his prisons—when they turn 18 and they are sent over to the adult facilities, he is going to inherit them. He needs to understand that unless we invest in the rehabilitation of these children early and make a serious investment in that, as recommended by Monsignor Cappo, then it is a complete waste of time us locking these children up.
In fact, I would hazard a guess that they will turn out even worse when they do eventually get out, unless of course the government is intending to hold them there forever, in which case I will remind the Minister for Correctional Services that his government passed a law in recent years to allow for the supervision, through a panel, of the paroling of prisoners, and they do eventually get out. This is unlike the Rann government, which locked up a whole lot of people and kept them locked up, because they were too afraid of the public outrage at serious offenders being let out.
There is a process in place now, minister, and you ought to be reminded of it. Your government has passed a law that says these people will eventually get out. You have an obligation in your government to make sure that they are fixed up along the way.
I turn to the submissions that have been presented to us by other stakeholders, which are not represented by the Law Society. I am conscious of saying this because of the disgraceful remarks the Attorney-General has made with respect to the Law Society. I think he associated them as having some self-interest objective, as though they were some kind of union for plumbers. They are appalling public statements against a society that is working hard, obviously, to protect the legal interests of the citizens of this state, which under the current performance of this government have been blatantly ignored by them keeping the most disgraceful bureaucratic bungles a secret from the people of South Australia.
However, let me go on, because there are plenty of other people who have lined up to say that it would be an erroneous path to take to progress this bill with the simplistic mantra that if they are going to be tried in an adult court they need to be sentenced as an adult. That sort of simplistic position to suggest that this is the redress for the Tucker family has not come with support from other stakeholders.
I will start with the Guardian for Children and Young People. I point here to other ministers who have responsibility for these bodies—minister Bettison, minister Close and others—because these are people you have appointed. These are people who have a statutory responsibility—some arising out of the Mullighan inquiry, some arising out of the extra powers under the Nyland inquiry and other reviews in the time I have been here in the parliament—to present reports to the parliament which I, at least, read with interest every year. I value their advice.
Obviously the government does not take a lot of notice of them because they are frequently ignored, but these are people you have appointed, you have set up, with your public mantra of caring about children and the need to protect them. Frankly, your complete indifference to their advice on these matters is concerning, especially when it is so comprehensive in the rejection of this option that the government has chosen to camouflage its own incompetence.
The guardian for children is now Ms Penny Wright, and I will summarise her position on the cognitive development aspect and the clear research to understand that young offenders are not adults and therefore should not be treated as adults and the horror expressed in her submission to the government and in public statements at the position we would be presenting and the reflection on our reputation if we were to completely ignore a United Nations convention that we had signed up to. In August this year, she presented to the government an excellent paper entitled 'Looking for balance: a response to the Statutes Amendment (Youths Sentenced as Adults) Bill 2017'. I commend it to all members because it is comprehensive and outlines the significance of what is occurring with this legislation, which she urges the government to abandon.
Then of course we have the submission from the Youth Council (YACSA), a peak body representing the interests of young people, again reiterating those concerns. The Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement was very concerned when they first wrote to me about this issue, and I read a submission that they presented to the Attorney-General, again saying that they simply could not endorse this bill for a number of the reasons I have raised. Members, I hope, are familiar with the fact that not only are young Aboriginal people disproportionately represented in youth crime but young Aboriginal males are sometimes the subject of the juvenile justice process.
I can remember coming to this parliament 15 years ago and being on an inquiry with the member for Heysen. I recall that the Hon. Bob Such was involved in this inquiry into juvenile justice and sadly, from 20 years before in courtrooms, not much had changed: the over-representation of poor male Indigenous South Australians was as bad as it ever was. There are lots of reasons for that and we are not going to go into them today. Suffice to say, if this legislation passes with the blessing of this parliament, the people most likely to be adversely affected are young Indigenous offenders.
I do not know how many reports you, Madam Deputy Speaker, have read on access to justice and the appallingly disproportionate statistics of Indigenous children who are incarcerated—too many, indeed. I am sure other members have read them too because it is always quite a disturbing account and it does not seem to be improving. I know that the Law Council of Australia are very active in this area. They are trying repeatedly to put submissions to the Prime Minister.
He has made certain announcements in respect of this, but here in South Australia, in this space, I do not understand why the government, which purports to care about Indigenous South Australians and about helping them get employment and have successful and fulfilling lives, is not active in this space in ensuring not just that these children are not in our prisons and might come out and reoffend and the like but also that they can make a productive contribution to our community.
Cheryl Axelby, who is in charge of the ALRM and I think does a sterling job, has put excellent submissions. Again, they appear to have fallen on deaf ears. If the rest of the government have read any of these submissions, surely the Minister for Correctional Services and the minister in respect of children's rehabilitation in custody would have acted, but it seems that they have not, and the rehabilitation so that they might have a law-abiding and fruitful life has been utterly abandoned.
The people who have to deal with these young people on a regular basis are people who have comprehensively said that this is not the way to go, urged the government to reconsider, and that has fallen on deaf ears. As disturbing as that is, that is the position the government is going to push ahead with in any event. I should mention that Judge Penny Eldridge of the Youth Court has also written articles about the importance of dealing with serious repeat offenders in this space in her court, but also to ensure that there is an investment in rehabilitation.
I want to say something about the consultation in respect of this bill because whilst the Attorney introduced this bill back on 5 July, after the hearing and sentencing in the Tucker case, the government then went into overdrive in respect of the commentary surrounding the death of Ms Paveley, which was a subsequent death on the road involving multiple young people. The only person who was charged with her death was an adult. I want to say that again: the only person charged with causing her death was an adult.
There were four other children, I think between 13 and 17, who were implicated in respect of the circumstances culminating in her death and they were charged with other offences, not with causing death. I think they were charged with stealing a car and other serious offences but, nevertheless, at no time during the explosion of media around this did the final prosecutions involve a juvenile in respect of charges of causing death or manslaughter or murder or anything of that nature.
The reason I want to mention that is that when the government decided, apparently some time before last Friday, that the Attorney-General's office was going to add some amendments in to make the wording absolutely clear, of which they forwarded a copy to me, of course I asked for a briefing. At 8.30 on Monday morning, yesterday morning, I was given a briefing about these amendments: why they were necessary and what the government was going to try to do. I asked the question: are there any other juveniles, youths, currently scheduled to be tried as an adult that this bill would otherwise affect?
Do you know what the first answer was? The first answer was the Paveley case. I said, 'Hang on a minute. No juvenile is charged in that case with causing death. There is an 18-year-old man who is charged, who is going to be treated as an adult and sentenced as an adult. Fine.' 'Oh, yes, you're right. That's not right.' I said, 'Look, I want you, as soon as you can today, to go away and check whether there are any other cases that are before the courts that this legislation might apply to, especially as you are proposing to introduce an amendment which provides for the transition, which clearly was designed to capture any pending cases.' Yesterday afternoon, I received an email, which said:
In respect of query 1, we are advised from SAPOL records, one youth is currently before the court (based on this request for information, 'How many youths are currently before the court for sentencing that the court has declared they will sentence as adults?').
In fact, my question was slightly different to that. It was to declare those in which they are being tried as adults as we speak. Nevertheless, I think the gist of it was not lost in translation.
Apparently, as of yesterday afternoon, there is a youth in the court at present—I assume in the District Court or Supreme Court—who is on their way to being sentenced, and if this law passes, it could affect that case, especially because of amendment No. 2 which the government has announced it will progress. Amendment No. 2 is to provide a transitional clause which, as we say, is to presumably capture any youths currently charged and awaiting sentence.
Why is it that the government at 3.20 yesterday afternoon suddenly found a case via SAPOL—I assume via their prosecutions unit—that involves a child who will be captured by this case, and we know nothing about it? I am appalled that we should get this information at the eleventh hour, especially when the government was keen to introduce a transitional clause in these amendments that they have foreshadowed in the full knowledge that there is a case there and that we are going to be passing a law that is going to affect that case. Why shouldn't we know about it?
Why has this government gone into overdrive on the concealment and secrecy surrounding matters which this parliament should not only be privy to but which should be coming into the parliament to make sure that we fully understand and know what we are making decisions on in this place because these laws affect people's lives? I find it completely unconscionable that we should have this last-minute information, which is grossly inadequate, from the morning. It is not a reflection on the two people who were there because clearly they identified they were not even familiar with this bill when they were sent down to provide a briefing.
This eleventh hour information has come to us as the basis of an amendment to insist on having a transitional clause. It is an approach that is increasingly common. I have been in this chamber for 15 years, as has the member for Heysen, and we have dealt with numerous law and order matters on legislation here between us, and the behaviour of the government in keeping these things concealed is just appalling. It is not a one-off; it has become a form of behaviour which is repeated almost daily. I am disgusted by it. I will not put up with it and I do not think anybody else in this chamber should put up with it.
I conclude by saying that the opposition will not support this bill. We have tried to look at other ways as to how we might better secure the treatment of conduct of serious repeat offenders. We did not accept the government's recipe last time they came into the parliament with an idea, and that has comprehensively failed. Recent publications of Judge Penny Eldridge in the Youth Court tells us that she is undertaking some trials on various things that she is doing, and we are keen to have a look at those.
We asked for a report on a boot camp-style trial that the government had done, which concluded about six months ago, but we are not allowed to view it. They will not let us look at it. We are always here and available to consider worthy proposals to deal with the problem in our community, and if it requires a legal response, we are open to look at that. But at this stage, the chief judge of the Youth Court is saying, 'Yes, we need to do more.' She is not endorsing this, I might say, but she is saying there are some trials underway which are showing some good signs.
That is great. Let's hear about them. Let the government come forward and tell us what they are. If they work, sure, we will support them to invest in that, but do not introduce a kneejerk piece of legislative reform, which is the usual lazy way the government deal with things: change the law, crank up the penalties, change the application, capture more people and make it easier for the police to prosecute. These are the features of the government's way of dealing with law and order: not being flexible in introducing proper rehabilitation and dealing with these cases in a manner that reflects the circumstances of individual cases without throwing all children out with the bathwater, which is what this bill will do.