Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (18 February) . . Page.. 279..
The Assembly met at 10.30 am.
MR SPEAKER (Mr Cornwell) took the chair and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.
MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (10.33): Mr Speaker, I present the Evidence (Amendment) Bill 1999, together with its explanatory memorandum.
Title read by Clerk.
MR HUMPHRIES: I move:
That this Bill be agreed to in principle.
This Bill and the Courts and Tribunals (Audio Visual and Audio Linking) Bill 1999 are a package which reflects the Government's commitment to ensuring that ACT courts can take full advantage of technology which will improve access to, and the efficiency of, the justice system. This Bill inserts a new part into the Evidence Act 1971 to allow Territory courts to take evidence or receive submissions by audiovisual and audio links from persons interstate and to allow the courts interstate to take evidence or submissions using the same means from persons in the Territory. These particular provisions are largely based on a draft model Bill which was endorsed by the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General in 1997.
Under the Bill it is possible for evidence to be taken, using audiovisual or audio communications, from what is described as a "participating State". A participating State is a State or Territory which has equivalent legislation in place. I understand that at least South Australia, Queensland and Victoria already have legislation enacted and New South Wales and the Northern Territory will shortly have legislation in place.
Courts will retain a discretion as to whether they direct the use of audio or audiovisual technology in a particular matter. The court will have to be satisfied that appropriate facilities are available and it is more convenient for the evidence or submission to be given in this way. If it is proposed that evidence be given from interstate, the court must be satisfied that the making of the direction would not unfairly prejudice any party opposing the making of the direction.