Monday, January 23, 2012

A Nudge in the Right Direction

This is unfortunately going to be an abridged blogpost, because I'm on holiday and was planning on leaving this blog alone for a few days.  But this is an issue I simply cannot let slide past without comment.

Look at what the Terror served up for us today:
Now I've had plenty to say, both here and on Twitter, about our old friend Laura Norda.  To be expected I suppose, given my job as a criminal lawyer.

On one hand, I agree that harsh sentences are often not just appropriate but also required.  In many cases, gaol is the only appropriate response, and the community is right to be demand it.

On the other hand, there are a lot of people who are in gaol for no good reason, forced there by vicious laws created only to keep TalkBack Radio and the Tabloid Media off politicians' backs.

There needs to be balance in the debate, and Greg Smith has been one of the first politicians to suggest that the issue is far more nuanced than "tough sentences equals less crime".

The problem for him, however, is that certain media outlets are always going to hammer him for any change that softens sentencing.  This article, which shamelessly labels him "soft on crime", is a textbook example.

Again, this post isn't meant to be another complant about the media (although God knows that is what I would like to write).  What it is about is an observation that this is the kind of rubbish that is going to be printed (and no doubt believed by many) if Mr Smith wants to actually achieve something good and worthwhile whilst the Coalition is in power.

Labor had this little nuggett of wisdom for the AG:
That's nice.  Let's make it about the fact he lives on the North Shore and therefore cannot possibly comprehend the "gang war raging" on the streets of South-West Sydney.

I mean for heaven's sake - a "gang war"? Spare me.

Smith going to cop it in the neck for this.  But what better time to do it?

We've already seen that this government appears to have a licence, at least for the moment, to do what they want and not get penalised for it. I've written about that here and here.

That window of opportunity won't last forever.  Smith should take the chance to push these reforms through now before the populist rubbish has a chance to really penetrate.

I've never met Smith, and I have no idea what he is like as a person.  The fact that he is pushing these reforms that (surely) won't win him many votes is a good sign that he was sincere when he said, before the election, that he was determined to make the right changes, not the popular ones.

It bodes well for our state.

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