This article originally appeared in The Australian on 9 November 2010. It can be viewed in its original context here.
NSW Director of Public Prosecutions Nick Cowdery QC has released his own legislative agenda.
It includes legalising drugs and abandoning the war on terror.
Mr Cowdery would also free more people on bail, enact a charter of rights and give judges more discretion over sentencing by abolishing standard non-parole periods.
The DPP’s policy “wish list”, which clashes with the government’s approach on key issues, was unveiled at a weekend conference hosted by the Rule of Law Institute. His criticism follows a series of clashes between the DPP and Attorney-General John Hatzistergos over management and resourcing of the Office of the DPP.
Mr Hatzistergos was last night considering Mr Cowdery’s remarks.
Mr Cowdery said the current approach to illicit drugs was “ineffective, wasteful and inconsiderate of the human rights of those concerned”.
“I would decriminalise drug possession and use and small-scale trafficking,” he said.
Mr Cowdery believes the only area of drug use that should remain a crime should be large-scale commercial enterprises.
On terrorism, Mr Cowdery said he would stop waging a war on what he described as “abstract nouns such as terror or even terrorism”. Instead, he would rely on traditional laws to deal with terrorism crimes.
He would divert resources into addressing the “underlying social and political conditions that give rise to threats of terrorism, rather than into combative means of addressing the symptoms”.
Mr Cowdery, who retires in March, criticised the effectiveness of the state government’s changes to the criminal justice system and accused it of being too responsive to what he described as the “ranting” of the tabloid media.
“Much of this legislation, at least so far as the criminal law is concerned, has been to tinker at the margins of substance and procedure in an ad hoc fashion,” he said.
Author: Chris Merritt