Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 04 Hansard (Thursday, 5 May 2022) . . Page.. 1225 ..
Thursday, 5 May 2022
MADAM SPEAKER (Ms Burch) (10.01): Members:
Dhawura nguna, dhawura Ngunnawal.
Yanggu ngalawiri, dhunimanyin Ngunnawalwari dhawurawari.
Nginggada Dindi dhawura Ngunnaawalbun yindjumaralidjinyin.
The words I have just spoken are in the language of the traditional custodians and translate to:
This is Ngunnawal Country.
Today we are gathering on Ngunnawal country.
We always pay respect to Elders, female and male, and Ngunnawal country.
Members, I ask you to stand in silence and pray or reflect on our responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.
Justice—wrongful conviction reforms
MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong—Attorney-General, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Gaming and Minister for Water, Energy and Emissions Reduction) (10.02): I rise today to advise the Assembly of progress on this government’s commitment to consider reform to the right to appeal convictions in the ACT. The government committed to this work in the parliamentary agreements for the Ninth and Tenth Legislative Assemblies for the ACT.
On 6 April 2022 a discussion paper titled Wrongful Conviction: Reform to the right to appeal and right to compensation was released, seeking submissions from stakeholders and the community. The paper discusses the adoption of a new right to appeal a criminal conviction on the basis that new or fresh and compelling evidence has come to light which points to the convicted person’s innocence. Currently, a convicted person can appeal their conviction in the ACT on a number of grounds, including where a jury verdict is unreasonable having regard to the evidence or where there was otherwise a miscarriage of justice.
If unsuccessful in an appeal, the final avenue of appeal is the High Court, which grants leave in only a small number of criminal cases and does not admit fresh evidence. Other options for a wrongfully convicted person include the prerogative of mercy and an inquiry into conviction. The prerogative of mercy is dependent on a decision of the executive and lacks transparency. An inquiry into conviction may be difficult for an applicant to access, as the criteria are not straightforward. The inquiry process itself is long and complex.
The new right of appeal proposed in the discussion paper would be more straightforward. The right would allow a court to grant leave to appeal against a conviction where the court is satisfied of clear criteria. There must be fresh and compelling evidence—for example, new DNA evidence—and granting leave to