Page 2963 - Week 10 - Thursday, 15 September 1994
Thursday, 15 September 1994
MADAM SPEAKER (Ms McRae) took the chair at 10.30 am and read the prayer.
BAIL (AMENDMENT) BILL 1994
MR CONNOLLY (Attorney-General and Minister for Health) (10.31): Madam Speaker, I present the Bail (Amendment) Bill 1994.
Title read by Clerk.
MR CONNOLLY: I move:
That this Bill be agreed to in principle.
Madam Speaker, it is almost two years now since the Bail Act came into effect. While the Act has generally been hailed as a success, it was inevitable that some finetuning would be required once the new procedures were put into practice. That, essentially, is the background to this Bill. The amendments it contains are technical in nature and are designed to reinforce existing policy. Nevertheless, some of the amendments are quite innovative and should be fully explained to the Assembly.
The Bill proposes that bail be available for breaches of the peace. In addition to the police power to arrest for offences, an officer may also arrest for a breach or an apprehended breach of the peace for the purpose of bringing the person before the court to seek to have the person bound over to keep the peace. The provisions of the Bail Act do not apply to persons arrested for a breach or an apprehended breach of the peace. If the arrest takes place after hours, this means that the police must either hold the person overnight, for what may be only a trivial incident, or let the person go. The police have in fact adopted a practice of releasing these people if they sign an undertaking to comply with certain conditions, but these undertakings have no legal force. If a person arrested for a breach of the peace is brought before the court, the magistrate must deal with the matter straightaway because to adjourn the hearing would require the person to be held in custody.
The philosophy of the Bail Act is that persons arrested for minor offences should have a right to bail without conditions. The Bill proposes that arrests for breaches of the peace be treated in a similar way and contains amendments to allow a right to bail for breaches or apprehended breaches of the peace. There will be exceptions, especially where the breach of the peace involves domestic violence. In those cases, bail would be granted only on a discretionary basis.