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  • Unreported Judgment

Taylor v Southern Queensland Parole Board

 

[2015] QSC 296

 

SUPREME COURT OF QUEENSLAND

  

CITATION:

Taylor v Southern Queensland Parole Board [2015] QSC 296

PARTIES:

DARREN RODNEY TAYLOR

(applicant)

v

SOUTHERN QUEENSLAND REGIONAL PAROLE BOARD

(respondent)

FILE NO/S:

7991 of 2015

DIVISION:

Trial Division

PROCEEDING:

Application

ORIGINATING COURT:

Supreme Court at Brisbane

DELIVERED ON:

4 November 2015

DELIVERED AT:

Brisbane

HEARING DATE:

12 October 2015

JUDGE:

Martin J

ORDER:

  1. The application is dismissed.
  2. The applicant is to pay the respondent’s costs on the standard basis.

 

CATCHWORDS:

ADMINISTRATIVE LAW – JUDICIAL REVIEW – GENERALLY – where the applicant seeks an order under s 32 of the Judicial Review Act 1991 requiring the respondent to provide him with a statement of reasons in writing for the decision it made to refuse his application for parole – where it was not clear whether the applicant sought a further statement of reasons for the decision or whether he was submitting that the statement which had been given was not a “statement of reasons” for the purposes of the Judicial Review Act 1991 – whether the statement of reasons provided by the respondent sets out the findings on material questions of fact and refers to the evidence or other material on which those findings were based

Acts Interpretation Act 1954, s 27B

Judicial Review Act 1991, s 32, s 34

Hatfield v Health Insurance Commission (1987) 15 FCR 487

COUNSEL:

Litigant in person

GP Sammon for the respondent

SOLICITORS:

Litigant in person

GR Cooper, Crown Solicitor for the respondent

 

 

  1. The applicant seeks an order under s 32 of the Judicial Review Act 1991 requiring the respondent to provide him with a statement of reasons in writing for the decision it made to refuse his application for parole.

Background

  1. On 14 November 2012 Mr Taylor pleaded guilty to a number of offences. He was sentenced to seven years imprisonment for a number of offences, including six years for rape, four years for indecent treatment of a child and other offences such as assault and possession of child exploitation material. The child who was the subject of the sexual offences was probably only about four years of age at the relevant time. Mr Taylor has previous relevant convictions, including possession of child pornography and indecent assault of a child under 16.
  2. The sentencing judge considered that Mr Taylor suffered from paedophilia and that it was important that, while he was in custody, appropriate programs and counselling be offered to him as he was unlikely to receive parole until he had completed these sorts of programs. It is clear from the sentencing judge’s remarks that she regarded Mr Taylor as a risk to the community.

The statement of reasons

  1. Although Mr Taylor’s application is for an order requiring the Southern Queensland Parole Board (“the Board”) to give a statement of reasons, the Board has already given such a statement. It was not clear from Mr Taylor’s application, or his oral submissions, whether he wanted a further statement of reasons or whether he was complaining that the statement which had been given was not a “statement of reasons” for the purposes of the Judicial Review Act.
  2. The content of a statement of reasons which is required to be given is described in s 34 of the Judicial Review Act: “the statement must contain the reasons for the decision”. Section 34 of the Judicial Review Act must be read with s 27B of the Acts Interpretation Act 1954. Section 27B of the Acts Interpretation Act describes the required content of a statement of reasons for decision in the following terms:

27B Content of statement of reasons for decision

“If an Act requires a tribunal, authority, body or person making a decision to give written reasons for the decision (whether the expression 'reasons', 'grounds' or another expression is used), the instrument giving the reasons must also—

(a) set out the findings on material questions of fact; and

(b) refer to the evidence or other material on which those findings were based.”

  1. A body such as the Board is not in the same position as a judge of a court in that it is not required to produce reasons to the same type of standard as one is entitled to expect from a court.  In Hatfield v Health Insurance Commission[1] it was held that a statement of reasons must set out the findings on material questions of fact and refer to the evidence or other material on which those findings were based.
  2. The statement of reasons in this case consists of:
    1. A 10 paragraph introduction which describes what occurred from the time the applicant signed his application for a parole order through to the refusal of the application by the Board;
    2. A list of 27 pieces of evidence and other material upon which the Board’s findings of fact were based;
    3. Four separate findings on material questions of fact; and
    4. The reasons for decision.
  3. In the “findings on material questions of fact” the Board sets out the following matters:
    1. The offences for which Mr Taylor was convicted;
    2. That he had been identified by the relevant officers as someone who would benefit from undergoing assessment to determine suitability to participate in a sexual offending treatment program;
    3. That his “innocence stances” had meant that he has not completed any further sexual offending assessments or programs;
    4. That the Board would be assisted by a psychological assessment;
    5. That Mr Taylor has declined to sign the necessary consent to perform the psychological assessment and therefore the request that a psychological assessment be completed has gone unfulfilled;
    6. Although not a requirement that a prisoner complete requested assessments before being eligible for parole, the Board determined, in this case, that it would be assisted in determining the risk to the community that Mr Taylor might constitute if he were to be released.
  4. In the final paragraph of the reasons, the Board lists the matters which led them to the decision to refuse his application:
    1. The serious nature of the offences for which he has been convicted and the length of the sentence he is serving,
    2. the Board’s inability to obtain an assessment regarding his future risk of reoffending, and
    3. the Board’s conclusion that, in light of the above circumstances and the findings earlier made, that he was an unacceptable risk to the community.
  5. The reasons supplied by the Board are sufficient to inform a reader of the matters which were taken into account, the findings that were made, and the reasons for the decision.
  6. The submissions by Mr Taylor were more in the nature of an expression of dissatisfaction with the decision rather than the extent of the reasons. In the written submissions he provided to the court it appears that he is more concerned to debate the merits of the decision than to expose any inadequacy in them. His submissions, and his oral argument, were more directed to demonstrating that there had been an error in the reasoning or that insufficient weight had been given to a particular matter. That is not a ground for granting an order that further reasons be given.
  7. Mr Taylor raised two particular points:
    1. He submits that the statement of reasons does not demonstrate how the decision was arrived at. That is not correct. The final paragraph of the statement of reasons sets out the process of reasoning.
    2. Mr Taylor also submits that the Board failed to “nominate a single document” that would support its reasons. While such a submission does not support the application made, it is incorrect in any event. The documents to which the Board had reference included the remarks of the sentencing judge and they were sufficient to demonstrate a reason for refusing the parole order.

Conclusion

  1. The respondent sought costs in the event that the application was dismissed. Mr Taylor is, of course, a prisoner and he submits that he cannot pay the costs. That is not a sufficient reason for the court to depart from the usual principle.
  2. The application is dismissed. The applicant is to pay the respondent’s costs on the standard basis.

 

Footnotes

[1] (1987) 15 FCR 487,

Close

Editorial Notes

  • Published Case Name:

    Taylor v Southern Queensland Parole Board

  • Shortened Case Name:

    Taylor v Southern Queensland Parole Board

  • MNC:

    [2015] QSC 296

  • Court:

    QSC

  • Judge(s):

    Martin J

  • Date:

    04 Nov 2015

Litigation History

No Litigation History

Appeal Status

No Status