TWO North East politicians will push for a legislative amendment so magistrates can provide donations to worthwhile charities and organisations.
The member for Benambra, Bill Tilley, and the member for Benalla, Bill Sykes, will approach Victorian Attorney-General Robert Clark seeking a return to the long-held tradition of people being ordered to donate to the court poor box.
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It follows a recent decision by Victorian Supreme Court Justice John Dixon, who ruled magistrates have no power to make such an order.
Justice Dixon said it may have been an “unintended consequence of reforms to sentencing”.
The ruling came following a challenge by the City of Melbourne after a magistrate ordered a man guilty of breaching the Food Act to donate $2500 to St Vincent de Paul’s food van service.
Mr Tilley, a former police officer, said he was well aware of many organisations that have received assistance from the court fund over the years.
Mr Sykes also said he knew of money going to worthwhile agencies.
Both have indicated they will contact Mr Clark about the ruling and its long-term ramifications.
But it appears Mr Clark is already considering how best to deal with it.
“The government will carefully examine the decision and its implications and whether amending legislation is required,” a spokesman for Mr Clark said.
A Justice Department spokeswoman said the amount of money provided through court funds was not made public and the state’s chief magistrate, Peter Lauritsen, has declined to comment on the issue.
There were 3403 orders in 2010-11 in the magistrates court directing that payments be made to charitable organisations.
Long-time North East magistrate John Murphy has in the past regularly ordered money be provided by court registrars to needy causes.
Back in 2000, he organised money for a fund set up to help the family of Wangaratta mother Cheryl Campbell, who died in a crash on the Hume Freeway.
Four years later, donations of more than $10,000 from offenders at courts at Benalla, Shepparton, Wangaratta and Wodonga went to assist the Mercy Millions building campaign in Albury.
In 2008, two Wodonga soldiers who trafficked ecstasy were ordered to each pay $1500 and $1000 to a fund set up to help cancer sufferer Lahni Kernaghan.