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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 2783..

False or damaging allegations

(Question No 246)

Mr Cornwell asked the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 21 August 2002:

(1) What action is proposed against the 13 year old girl who, as reported in the Canberra Times 12 August 2002, falsely accused a man of having sex with her;

(2) If no action is to be taken, why not;

(3) If no action is taken, what protection does the community have against such false or damaging allegations being made against anyone?

Mr Stanhope: The answer to the member's question is as follows:

(1) No action is proposed at this time. The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) advises that on the material presently available, including material not available to the trial judge, he has formed a preliminary view that there would not be reasonable prospects of success in prosecuting the complainant for perjury.

(2) Actions for perjury are not commenced automatically as a result of an acquittal in criminal proceedings. The mere result of an acquittal or even a court disbelieving a complainant provides no certainty that the complaint was false or groundless.

For action to be taken, either a complaint would need to be made to the police, who could then investigate the allegation, or the court (or other tribunal) would refer the matter to the DPP for consideration. This process is important because the court or tribunal is in a good position to assess whether there is an issue of perjury that requires careful investigation and consideration. No complaint has been made to the DPP or to the Australian Federal Police in this case.

Although the judge expressed himself in strong terms, he did not make a finding that the complainant had lied nor did he refer the papers to the DPP for consideration of a prosecution as would usually happen if the judge considered the situation warranted action.

(3) All cases before the courts are subject to a rigorous screening process, particularly cases where sexual offences are charged. These include committal proceedings, full prosecution disclosure, professional assessment of cases by prosecutors and pre-trial procedures. These are designed to minimise the prosecution of false allegations and, for the most part, do so. However, it is not possible to protect against all such allegations.


Small business

(Question No 247)

Mr Cornwell asked the Treasurer, upon notice, on 21 August 2002:

In relation to ACT Territory Owned Corporations:

(1) Is it accepted practice for publicly-owned bodies to compete against local small business.

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