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This Bill amends the Director of Public Prosecutions Act to recognise that the director's functions include making statements with respect to criminal investigations, criminal proceedings or other matters relevant to the functions of the director. The Act is also amended to provide that legal proceedings do not lie against the director or officers of the director's office for anything said or done in good faith in carrying out the functions of the office. Provisions already appear in a number of Territory Acts giving protection to statutory office-holders for things said or done in carrying out their functions. Those officers include officers under the Ombudsman Act and the Community Advocate Act. I might add that the former Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Ken Crispin, initiated this proposal, and the new incumbent of the position, Mr Terry Buddin, agrees with it.

Mr Speaker, it is a matter of difficulty to discern how far any government should go in granting immunity from suit to public servants for statements they make in the course of their position. One might argue, as a matter of principle, that they should all be entitled to protection of this kind. It is not a position, I think, that we should readily agree to and we should reach. It is a matter of examination by the Government at the present time as to how far this protection ought to extend to public servants of the ACT. I commend the Bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Connolly) adjourned.


MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General) (10.34): Mr Speaker, I present the Crimes (Amendment) Bill 1995, together with its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by Clerk.


That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Crimes Act 1900 to remove potential loopholes in various criminal laws, including ones dealing with sexual assault offences against children. The first amendment relates to a section of the Act which currently provides that Territory courts can convict a person of a murder only if the prosecution can prove that death or the act causing death occurred within the Territory's borders. Even though there is clear evidence that the accused committed the murder, it may be very difficult to obtain a conviction, for example, where the body is found on or near the Territory border but there is no evidence as to which jurisdiction the relevant act or death occurred in. Similar issues may arise in relation to offences other than murder. The Standing Committee of Attorneys-General agreed, I think last year, to a model Bill to remedy this problem, and a number of jurisdictions have implemented it. This Bill remedies the problem by making possible a conviction for an offence in cases where it can be proved on the balance of probabilities that either an element of the offence occurred in the jurisdiction or the perpetrator was in the jurisdiction at the time of the act.

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