Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 13 Hansard (Thursday, 18 November 2010) . . Page.. 5632 ..
MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Water, Minister for Energy and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (10.04): I move:
That this bill be agreed to in principle.
The Bail Amendment Bill 2010 introduces reforms to the Bail Act 1992. The reforms focus on two aspects of the Bail Act: first, the power of the courts to grant bail and review bail decisions; and, second, the limitations on the bail jurisdiction of the Magistrates Court.
The proposed reforms relating to the grant of bail and the review of bail decisions are interconnected and so I propose to outline the reforms and provide some background to the formulation of the provisions. The jurisdiction of the Magistrates Court is something of a separate issue and I will turn to that later.
In brief, the proposed reforms in relation to the grant and review of bail will allow accused people to make two bail applications as of right in the Magistrates Court; require both defendants and informants to have fully explored bail in the Magistrates Court before proceeding to the Supreme Court; and change the test for further bail applications and reviews by removing the requirement for “significance”.
The reforms to bail applications and the review of bail decisions stem from concerns surrounding the increase in the number of bail applications being heard in the Supreme Court. In 2008 I noted that there had been an increase of 82 per cent in the number of bail applications being heard in the Supreme Court following refusal of bail in the Magistrates Court. There has been no real alteration in this situation subsequently.
The large number of bail applications being heard in the Supreme Court is tying up judicial resources unnecessarily. Judges are being taken away from other areas of work to hear bail applications which could and should be properly heard by the Magistrates Court. This is clearly not the best use of judges’ time, and the inevitable consequence is an increase in the overall delays in the disposal of cases. There are implications in terms of cost, access to justice and the overall management of cases which make this an important issue to address.
In order to find out why the increase had occurred, my department consulted with the Chief Magistrate, the Supreme Court judiciary, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Legal Aid Office of the ACT. There was agreement across the board that the main cause of the increase was that the initial bail application was often being made at people’s very first appearance at court following arrest. As a result, not all the relevant material was available in support of the application and bail was quite properly refused by the magistrate. There was further consensus that accused people then generally chose to make further bail applications in the Supreme Court rather than trying again in the Magistrates Court.
Understanding the cause of the problem led to the formulation, again in consultation with stakeholders, of the proposals I am introducing today. The legislative change that