Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 10 Hansard (23 September) . .
of the Supreme Court's consideration of the report of the board of inquiry review of the conviction of David Harold Eastman in the matter of the murder of Police Assistant Commissioner Colin Winchester in 1989.
An element of the Crimes Act 1900 appeared to limit the court's ability to take and consider submissions in relation to the board of inquiry report. In the end, the court decided it could take submissions and, therefore, that the proceedings would be judicial in nature. In essence, this bill picks up on the court's interpretation and seeks simply to clarify that the Supreme Court can receive submissions in considering an inquiry report and that its proceedings are judicial.
In doing so, the bill does two things. Firstly, it repeals section 431, headed "Nature of Supreme Court proceedings", of the Crimes Act 1900 and makes the repeal effective from the date the Attorney-General presented the bill to the Assembly on 7 August this year. Secondly, the bill carries transitional provisions, in effect giving retrospectivity to the Supreme Court's approach in the matter of its consideration of the Eastman inquiry report.
Madam Speaker, I invited comment from a range of stakeholders. Of those, the ACT law society said they had no issues with the bill, and the ACT bar association said they had no comments to offer. In considering the bill, my advisers did raise two questions with the attorney's office, and I thank the Attorney-General for providing answers. The first was whether similar issues have arisen in other jurisdictions. The response was that the issue this bill seeks to address is unique to the ACT because other jurisdictions have their own processes for inquiries into convictions.
The second question was whether, by making the proceedings judicial in nature, further grounds for appeal are opened up. The response was that, by the Supreme Court's ruling on the issue, the proceedings were judicial in nature already and that any appeal considerations would follow the usual processes. This bill makes simple but important amendments to the act. I will say nothing further other than to reiterate the opposition's support.
MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (10.15): This bill clarifies an issue in the Crimes Act relating to inquiries into convictions which are governed by part 20 of the act. Minister Corbell explained the inquiry process thoroughly in his introductory speech. As we all know, an inquiry was recently held into the conviction of Mr David Eastman. Following the presentation of the report of the Eastman inquiry, there was some uncertainty about the Supreme Court's ability to receive submissions in considering an inquiry report and whether the Supreme Court proceedings on such a matter are judicial proceedings. This is because the act, at section 431, says:
(1) In considering whether to make an order under this part about a report, the Supreme Court—
(a) may have regard only to matters stated in the report, or to documents or things given to the registrar with the report; and
(b) must not hear submissions from anyone.
(2) The consideration of whether to make an order under this part is not a judicial proceeding.
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