Leader of the Opposition, Lia Finocchiaro, says the CLP Opposition is committed to putting the rights of victims above the rights of offenders and will categorically not raise the age of criminal responsibility.
“The current system is appropriate and allows Judges to use discretion when dealing with offenders aged between 10 and 14. Under section 43AQ of the Criminal Code Act 1983, children between 10 and 14 “can only be criminally responsible for an offence if the child knows that his or her conduct is wrong”.
“This is a question for the court and the burden of proving that the child knows their conduct is wrong is on the prosecution. This is sufficient.
The severity of offending in the 10-14 age group is alarming:
- “A 10-year-old boy recently spent three days in Don Dale after allegedly committing offences while on bail. The boy was also charged for allegedly holding a knife above his head and pointing it at a service station worker” ABC, November 30, 2021
- “Five youths including a 10-year-old have been charged for alleged property crimes across Darwin and Casuarina” NT News, November 11, 2021
- “Teen stabbed on bus by 13-year-old in alleged theft gone wrong” NT Independent, May 31, 2021
- “11-year-old who breached bail among six youths charged for property crimes: Police” NT Independent, November 4, 2021
- “Incredibly disappointing: Cops charge youths as young as 11 over alleged Darwin crime series” NT News, April 30, 2021
- “Strike Force Trident brings 12-year-old boy’s four month Darwin crime spree to an end” NT News, January 20, 2021
“Territorians, particularly those suffering through Labor’s crime crisis in Central Australia, are pleading for action from the Chief Minister. Yet, Michael Gunner is busy working out how to let more teenage criminals go free.
“No one wants to see kids locked up. But offenders who deliberately break the law and commit crimes as serious as aggravated robbery, theft and assault should face appropriate punishment.
“There also needs to be a focus on early intervention for children at risk of entering the youth justice system and we don’t believe there is enough being done in this space. Instead of focusing on stopping the criminality in the first place, the Gunner Labor Government is planning to hand out ‘get out of jail free’ cards.
“Raising the age of criminal responsibility is an acknowledgment by the Chief Minister that he has failed to deliver generational change and is more committed to ensuring – without exception – that criminals aged between 10 and 14 run free no matter how severe the crime.
“The CLP will not stand by as Territorians are victimised at disturbing rates, while Labor makes excuses for criminals. If you are 14 and commit a serious assault, you should be held criminally responsible. It is a community expectation that offenders are held accountable for their crimes.
“Michael Gunner needs to spend less time wringing his hands and making excuses for criminals, and more time doing his actual job – which is to protect Territorians.
“A CLP Government would hand youth justice back to Corrections so Territory Families can focus on its core business – the care and protection of children. The Territory Families Minister is overwhelmed with managing child protection and youth justice and clearly failing at both. “Only one party will put victims first and that’s the CLP,” said Mrs Finocchiaro.