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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 7 Hansard (23 June) . . Page.. 2211..


Thursday, 23 June 2005

MR SPEAKER (Mr Berry) took the chair at 10.30 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Criminal Code (Administration of Justice Offences) Bill 2005

Ms Gallagher, on behalf of Mr Stanhope, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Acting Attorney-General, Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Children, Youth and Family Support, Minister for Women and Minister for Industrial Relations) (10.32): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

This is an important bill, not only because it is another landmark step in the process to codify the criminal law of the ACT, but also because it concerns one of the major focal points of our democratic way of life. It is about ensuring that the systems we have for dispensing justice do so justly. All the rights and freedoms that we hold so dear and all the expectations we have that rules of government will be applied honestly and fairly depend inescapably upon the proper administration of justice.

Of course, the ACT currently has offences that relate to the administration of justice, and some of those offences have familiar names like perjury and perverting the course of justice. But few of us know much about the technical requirement for establishing the first or the full range of criminal behaviour that is covered by the second. If you wish to inquire, you will not find the answer to these questions in any statute in the ACT because the answers are not there. The Crimes Act 1900 makes some references to perjury but it does not say what it is, except that it is a crime, and although perverting the course of justice is a serious offence in the territory, it does not get a mention in the Crimes Act.

This is an important bill because it will remove this important body of ACT law from the obscurity of the common law and replace it with a modern regime of offences that will comprehensively set out in clear language the elements, defences and other relevant qualifications that apply to each offence. It will give these offences a profile commensurate with their importance to the judicial system and our democracy and will ensure that the seriousness with which the community views these matters is well understood and visible.

This bill represents the fifth stage in a process that began in September 2001 to progressively reform and codify the criminal law of the ACT. It will, as I have indicated, insert a new chapter 7 in the Criminal Code, which deals with offences directed to ensuring the proper administration of justice in the ACT. The new chapter is primarily based on the chapter 7 report of the Model Criminal Code Officers Committee, which was developed in 1998 after an extensive nation-wide consultation process. The recommended model provisions were designed for adoption by all jurisdictions as part of


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