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Labor to seize the proceeds of crime

Date

Noel Towell

ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell wants to amend the Human Rights Act to allow the government to confiscate "unexplained wealth" from ciminals.

ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell wants to amend the Human Rights Act to allow the government to confiscate "unexplained wealth" from ciminals. Photo: Michel O'Sullivan

Canberra's criminals will be forced to explain where they got their money or have it confiscated under an ACT government election pledge.

But as part of a number of law and justice pledges to be announced today, law breakers will have more chances to earn money after doing time at the territory's jail.

The ''unexplained wealth'' provisions promised by Attorney-General Simon Corbell would give the courts the power to confiscate money, houses or other property if they believe they are the proceeds of crime, even if the owner has not been convicted of an offence.

Mr Corbell said the powers had proved to be a useful tool for interstate authorities to use against organised crime and that most states and territories and the Commonwealth had already enacted asset-stripping powers.

The Attorney-General will also announce today that if re-elected in this month's election, his party will amend the Human Rights Act to enshrine the right to housing in law, establish an industrial magistrates court and enhance legal recognition of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the territory.

There would also be ''justice re-investment'' under a re-elected Labor government, which Mr Corbell describes as an ''evidence-based approach to criminal justice that includes analysing the causes of crime and incarceration, implementing targeted policies and programs to address these causes''.

The minster said unexplained wealth provisions would allow criminals to be stripped of assets obtained through breaking the law.

''Unexplained wealth provisions allow for the forfeiture of assets without a criminal conviction where it appears a person's wealth is greater than their legally acquired wealth,'' he said.

''A person is required to forfeit any wealth that they cannot explain.

''Unexplained wealth provisions complement other confiscation of criminal assets legislative frameworks to ensure that people do not benefit from illegal and unlawful activities.''

The minister said that other states and territories had used similar laws in the fight against gangsters.

''Unexplained wealth provisions are a significant tool to fight organised crime as they focus on a philosophy that removes the profits of crime, create a disincentive to the establishment of serious and organised crime and prevent criminals reinvesting profits back into the crime cycle,'' Mr Corbell said.

''Unexplained wealth provisions are currently in place in Western Australia, the Northern Territory, South Australia, the Commonwealth and NSW.''

Mr Corbell will also pledge today that Labor will spend nearly $1 million over four years to fund a program, revealed by The Canberra Times in June, to allow prisoners to work in the community while they are preparing for release from jail.

''Many detainees come from dysfunctional domestic and social circumstances where the social and personal benefits of work are absent,'' Mr Corbell said.

''By expanding employment opportunities for detainees, ACT Labor will be contributing to lowering the rate of recidivism by assisting detainees, on release, to be self-reliant and self-supporting breadwinners for themselves and their dependants.''

4 comments

  • Another fundamental attack on the concept of innocent until proven guilty. Why should anybody have to explain their assets? By all means, if they have been convicted of a crime, and it can be proven - or that there is a reasonable belief - that from the proceeds of which the assets were acquired, seize them. But this suggestion that the state can seize property on a supposition is just an abuse of process.

    Commenter
    Macca
    Date and time
    October 08, 2012, 10:43AM
    • "Attorney-General Simon Corbell would give the courts the power to confiscate money, houses or other property if they believe they are the proceeds of crime, even if the owner has not been convicted of an offence."

      Sounds very Stalinist Mr Corbell .That's not how the law works .. you have to commit a crime and be found guilty . Anyway such a law would be unconstitutional .This is a clear example of how politicians can abuse power and why we have separation of powers . Perhaps you can confiscate property if they don't vote for you Mr Corbell ? Where does it end ? The road to hell is paved with good intentions

      Commenter
      Dan
      Date and time
      October 08, 2012, 11:54AM
      • sure sounds like Communism to me if they believe they are the proceeds of crime, even if the owner has not been convicted of an offence. so now your criminals even if you havent broken the law? sounds like a law that could be abused by law enforcement for there own financial gain.

        Commenter
        bill
        Location
        australia
        Date and time
        October 08, 2012, 2:11PM
        • Minority groups forgotten again by the politicians...the law abiding, working, heterosexuals.

          Commenter
          dusty
          Date and time
          October 09, 2012, 3:17AM
          Comments are now closed
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