Liberal MP Peter Phelps says proposed mandatory sentencing laws may punish the average ”drunken yobbo” but have little effect on ”steroid-munching types”, adding to growing criticism that the government has gone too far in its response to alcohol-related violence.
Mr Phelps, the government whip in the upper house, said the state was ”stuck” with new measures that had been rushed through Parliament last month, including 1.30am venue lockouts and mandatory minimum eight-year jail sentences for fatal single-punch assaults.
A second tranche of watered-down mandatory sentencing laws for assaults has been introduced to Parliament.
Mr Phelps said the mandatory sentencing regime may be ”too strong for the average stupid drunken yobbo, but ineffective against the steroid-munching sleeve tattoo types, for whom prison is not an object of fear, but merely an occupational hazard”.
However, he will not vote against the proposed laws, which have been strongly criticised by the legal fraternity, saying they were required to address the judiciary’s ”tin ear” to public concern over sentences for violent offenders.
But Shooters MP Robert Borsak indicated his party would not back the laws in the upper house, saying on Wednesday they encompassed a ”grab bag” of offences unrelated to recent Kings Cross fatalities.
Shadow attorney-general Paul Lynch said Labor was examining the proposed laws and had not finalised its position.
The Legislation Review Committee this week raised concern that the government’s response to booze-fuelled violence may unfairly penalise people.
Fines for offensive conduct and language have increased from between $150 and $200 to $500.
Drunk people who fail to comply with a move-on order could be fined $1100, up from $200.
The cross-party committee, chaired by National Party MP Stephen Bromhead, said the penalty increases ”may be disproportionate to the offence committed” and that $1100 was ”a significant amount for a police-issued fine” that was not automatically heard by a court.
It added that the move-on penalties, applied to intoxicated people who were otherwise acting lawfully, may ”unduly infringe on his/her freedom of movement and on his or her rights and liberties”.
The committee said mandatory sentencing ”may lead to an unjust penalty disproportionate to the offence” and referred the matter to Parliament for further consideration.
Premier Barry O’Farrell said: ”I make no apologies for sending the strongest possible message that drug and alcohol-fuelled violence will not be tolerated in NSW”.