Commonwealth penalty unit goes up by $60
The new year often brings a raft of legislative changes and commencements. One of the important, but lesser reported, changes for 2013 is an increase to the value of the Commonwealth penalty unit.
Effective from 28 December 2012, the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Serious Drugs, Identity Crime and Other Measures) Act 2012 (Cth) amended the value of a penalty unit, increasing it from $110 to $170 (Crimes Act 1914 (Cth), s 4AA(1)).
According to the Explanatory Memorandum, this amendment “accommodates changes in the Consumer Price Index since the value of the penalty unit was last adjusted in 1997.”
The amending legislation also introduces a new requirement for the review of the value of a penalty unit in the Commonwealth jurisdiction every three years (Crimes Act 1914 (Cth), s 4AA(1A)).
Implications of penalty unit increase
This amendment significantly increases penalties for offences under a range of Commonwealth laws, including corporations, consumer and fair work legislation. For instance, a trustee company which gives a financial benefit in relation to a common fund to a related party, thereby contravening s 601SCD(1) of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) is subject to a maximum penalty of 2000 penalty units. If the offence was committed on or after 28 December 2012, this penalty increases from the previous amount of $220,000 to $340,000.
The Thomson Reuters Legislation Team has updated our legislation “penalty unit” cross-references in the Mining Commonwealth service in line with this change. For example:
Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), s 94L
94L Person conducting the mediation may prohibit disclosure of information etc.
(4) A person commits an offence if:
(a) the person discloses any material in contravention of a direction made under subsection (1); and
(b) the disclosure is not permitted by subsection (3).
Penalty: 40 penalty units.
[Cross Reference: A penalty unit is $170. See s 4AA of the Crimes Act 1914.]
Penalty unit values across Australia
A comparative table highlighting the value of a penalty unit as at 1 January 2013 in each of the nine jurisdictions is outlined below:
|Jurisdiction||Legislative Provision||Penalty Unit Value|
|Australian Capital Territory||Legislation Act 2001 (ACT), s 133||$110 (individual); $550 (corporation)|
|Commonwealth||Crimes Act 1914 (Cth), s 4AA||$170. Penalty unit value also applies to Territory ordinances.|
|New South Wales||Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW), s 17||$110|
|Northern Territory||Penalty Units Act 2009 (NT) and Penalty Unit Regulations (NT)||$141|
|Queensland||Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (Qld), s 5||$110|
|South Australia||N/A||SA does not have penalty units. Instead, Division fines and penalties are referenced in this jurisdiction (Acts Interpretation Act 1915, s 28A)|
|Tasmania||Penalty Units and Other Penalties Act 1987, ss 4 and 4A||$130|
|Victoria||Monetary Units Act 2004, ss 5 and 6||$140.84|
|Western Australia||Varies across legislation: $50 (road offences) – $110 (serious offences)|
This post was co-authored by Angela Bandiera, Legislation Production Editor and Kylie Beveridge, Managing Editor – Legislation.