Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

25 March 2020

Elise Archer, Attorney-General

Stamping out the coward's punch

The Tasmanian majority Liberal Government is committed to keeping all Tasmanians safe and protecting victims of crime.

Today, we took a big step towards cracking down on violent acts, with reforms around ‘one punch’ (or ‘coward’s punch’) offences passing through Parliament.

While there are a number of existing offences in Tasmanian legislation that can capture ‘one punch’ incidents (such as assault and grievous bodily harm) our legislation will close a loophole that currently exists in Tasmania for offenders to avoid convictions for manslaughter if they successfully argue the death was an accident.

The Justice Legislation Amendment (Criminal Responsibility) Bill consists of two amendments to s.13 in the Criminal Code Act 1924 and an amendment to the Sentencing Act 1997. These changes will make the defence of ‘accident’ much clearer and ensure the excuse of ‘being intoxicated’ (being under the influence of alcohol or drugs) cannot be used for random acts of violence.

Our Government has taken a range of steps to prevent senseless incidents from occurring in the first place, including committing $200,000 towards the ‘Stop the Coward’s Punch’ campaign to increase awareness and educate people around one-punch attacks.

The Tasmanian majority Liberal Government will always stand up for victims and community safety. These new reforms will send a strong message that senseless and cowardly acts of violence will not be tolerated, and ensure Tasmania’s police and courts have adequate powers to hold these offenders accountable.

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