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Magistrates Court error

Vanessa Goodwin, Attorney-General

I have been advised by the Magistrates Court of a failure to issue a warrant of imprisonment following a decision of the Court to remand a defendant in custody.

I have written to the Secretary of the Department of Justice expressing my displeasure at this error and making it clear that all warrants should be processed on the same business day on which decisions are made. I have also asked for further, urgent, advice in relation to what immediate action, including training and protocol development, has been taken to address what appear to be processing oversights in the Magistrates Court.

The limitations of the Court’s existing processes were highlighted in the recently released KPMG report.  The Court is working with the Department of Justice to implement the recommendations contained in that report.

This incident also confirms the need to implement the KPMG recommendation announced by the Government last week to amend the Sentencing Act, which will ensure simple language in sentence orders and a consistent approach to the terms of warrants.

The Government will introduce a Bill to amend the Sentencing Act to action this recommendation urgently.

It’s important to note that this issue is in no way the result of any error by the Tasmania Prison Service. The defendant in question had been released by the TPS in accordance with a sentence handed down for a previous matter.

The Hodgman Liberal Government has been open and transparent about the extent of the problem and has taken action to investigate and fix what is clearly a long-standing, systemic issue.  This stands in stark contrast to the Labor-Green Government who covered up incorrect releases in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 and did nothing to resolve the issues.