Penalty units increase

The value of the penalty unit, which is used to calculate many penalties under Commonwealth laws, will increase for the first time since 1997 from $110 to $170.

The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Serious Drugs, Identity Crime and Other Measures) Bill 2012 will increase financial penalties for all Commonwealth crimes and introduce a requirement for the triennial review of the penalty unit.

“Penalty unit” as defined in Subsection 4AA(1) of the Commonwealth Crimes Act will increase from $110 to $170.

The change will, for example, increase penalties under the Corporations Act, the Competition and Consumer Act, the Australian Consumer Law and the National Credit Act.

The increase will commence on a day to be fixed by Proclamation. If the provisions do not commence within 1 month of the day the Act receives Royal Assent, they will commence on the day after that 1 month period finishes.

The amendment to subsection 4AA(1) applies only in relation to an offence which is committed on or after the commencement of the increase.

The value of monetary penalties for criminal offences in Commonwealth legislation and Territory ordinances is regulated by the penalty unit mechanism established in Part 1A of the Crimes Act. Section 4AA of the Crimes Act specifies the monetary value of a penalty unit at any particular time. The penalty unit mechanism allows the maximum monetary penalty for all offences under Commonwealth law, or Territory ordinances, to be automatically adjusted with a single amendment to section 4AA of the Crimes Act. This removes the need for multiple legislative amendments and ensures that monetary penalties in Commonwealth legislation and Territory ordinances remain comparable.

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