Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (9 August) . . Page.. 2759..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
out of the trial. The outcome of the appeal does not invalidate or affect any verdict or decision given at the trial.
The purpose of these appeals is to allow the prosecution to obtain rulings after the event on novel or contentious points of law that are raised during the trial, without jeopardising the accused through an appeal or retrial. I understand that a similar procedure is available in Victoria.
The Attorney also proposes amendments to the Crimes Act allowing prosecution appeals on a point of law where a jury acquits an accused person. If these amendments are carried-and I expect they will be-the prosecution will have a choice of appeal mechanisms: one that jeopardises the acquitted accused and one that does not.
I raise those issues because there has not been much discussion on them. It is worthy that we note these things in debate. As I indicated, the Labor Party will support the bill, whilst regretting the need for us to establish our own court of appeal.
MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education and Attorney-General) (9.30), in reply: I thank Mr Stanhope for his comments and support. I agree with his comments in relation to the Commonwealth's action in not appointing our two most recent judges as members of the Federal Court and their clear action in indicating that such appointments will not happen again. That has precipitated the need for us to establish our own Court of Appeal.
One of the benefits is that we will have our own court of appeal. Most of the matters which are appealed from the Supreme Court to the Federal Court are related to issues which normally do not go before the Federal Court in the rest of Australia-state-type issues like commercial law and criminal law, not bankruptcy and things which are totally the prerogative of the Federal Court in other jurisdictions in the Commonwealth of Australia.
I think there are positives. Mr Stanhope is quite right. Had the federal government not gone down the path of not appointing more recent judges as members of the Federal Court, we would not necessarily have taken this legislative step.
I do not think reference appeals occur very often. I have a short note here saying that there are two cases the DPP can remember in the immediate past. That accords with my recollections over the last 10 years.
I do not think it is possible to overestimate the importance of a respected and authoritative appellate court in the ACT. I certainly hope the arrangements we are setting in place will serve to instil even greater confidence than already exists in our judicial system in the ACT.
In agreeing with Mr Stanhope about what the federal government has done with the Federal Court, I do not wish to belittle the competent service that has been extended to the people of the ACT by the Federal Court over past decades. However, that court does serve broader and different purposes, and the respected and learned judges of that court have discharged, and I understand will continue to discharge as additional judges of the ACT Supreme Court, an onerous burden with distinction.