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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 10 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 September 2011) . . Page.. 4109 ..


able to prosecute a summary offence which is an offence punishable by imprisonment for one year or less until completion. However, a citizen may only prosecute an indictable offence during the committal stage and, if the matter is referred to trial, the Director of Public Prosecutions must elect to take over or the matter is discontinued.

The statutory right of prosecution currently provided under the Work Safety Act generally reflects the common law position. However, the statutory right only applies to division 3.2 of that act, the safety duty offences. Also, the statutory right does not impose the common law limitation on taking a matter to trial. Under the Work Safety Act a union is entitled to prosecute an indictable offence at trial.

However, as with the common law, the Work Safety Act allows for the Director of Public Prosecutions to take over or intervene at any time. In practice, he or she would always take over a prosecution if the matter is referred to trial, given the public interest at stake. So in effect the operation of the statutory provision is the same as the common law.

Removing the statutory right to prosecute in the ACT and reverting to the common law does not represent any change in practice. The Greens’ amendment would go further than the common law and the statutory right currently provided and it would do this in two ways. First, it would go beyond the statutory right by applying to all offences under the act and not just be limited to the safety duties. Second, the Greens’ amendment does not draw on the DPP’s right to intervene on proceedings. So, arguably, these important provisions contained in the DPP act that serve to protect the public interest may not apply. At the very least, this important protection should be expressly provided for.

There have been no prosecutions in the ACT by unions or employer groups. Whilst it is with some regret that we were not able to seek the resolution we wanted at a national level, I am satisfied that the provisions in the bill are sufficient to ensure that appropriate means of prosecution are available.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (5.38): The Canberra Liberals will not be supporting Ms Bresnan’s amendment. Unlike the Chief Minister, it does not give us any pain at all.

Question put:

That Ms Bresnan’s amendment No 5 be agreed to.

The Assembly voted—

Ayes 4

Noes 11

Ms Bresnan

Mr Rattenbury

Mr Barr

Ms Gallagher

Ms Hunter

Dr Bourke

Mr Hanson

Ms Le Couteur

Ms Burch

Mr Hargreaves

Mr Coe

Mr Seselja

Mr Corbell

Mr Smyth

Mrs Dunne

Question so resolved in the negative.


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