Since 2002, New South Wales has had distinctive sentencing provisions for offences of harming threatened plants or animals. In addition to a starting maximum penalty for the offences, an additional maximum penalty can be added for each individual plant or animal harmed. The effectiveness of these provisions has never been examined. The NSW Government has recently proposed to retain these provisions in a new Act following extensive review, despite offering no explanation or justification for them. This study evaluates whether or not these provisions have achieved their apparent goal: to facilitate a penalty proportionate to the gravity of the offence. Every relevant sentence imposed by the NSW Land and Environment Court since 2002 has been considered. The study finds that these provisions have been unsuccessful because they do not reflect the reality of environmental crime. The consequence has been that relatively serious offences carry a lesser maximum penalty than relatively minor offences. These provisions should be reconsidered, and reforms which could better achieve their goal are proposed.
|Number of pages
|Environmental and Planning Law Journal
|Published - 2016