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'POSITION, POSITION, POSITION' It is one of the Holy Grails of our criminal law that: 'Where the facts and circumstances of crimes and the subjective factors of those who commit them are the same, arguably equal justice requires that there be an identity of, and not different, outcomes in the punishment that they receive.' This time-honoured axiom of 'parity in sentencing' is, however, under threat from the continued organisation of Australian criminal justice along state and territory lines. The punishment actually received for any given crime in Australia is as much the product of the precise geographical location in which it is committed as it is the mood of the judicial officer passing sentence. There is no federal sentencing authority in Australia, and little opportunity or enthusiasm for guidance at High Court level. Consequently, so far as concerns the mechanisms for deterring and punishing crime, the states and territories have failed to progress beyond the status of independent colonies under the British Crown.
This document has been peer reviewed.