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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 9 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 2655 ..


MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (10.44): I present the Prisoners (International Transfer) Bill 1998, together with its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by Clerk.

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Deputy Speaker, I move:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

This Bill is complementary to the Commonwealth International Transfer of Prisoners Act 1997, which establishes a scheme for the transfer of prisoners between Australia and foreign countries. With the implementation of the scheme under this Act, it will be possible for Australia to enter into bilateral and multilateral treaties with other countries for prisoner transfers. The Bill for the Commonwealth Act and a draft model Bill for complementary State and Territory legislation were developed through a consultation process coordinated by the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General. The proposed ACT legislation is based on the draft model complementary legislation for States and Territories and provides for matters which are necessary to ensure ACT participation in the scheme. I will briefly explain the elements of the scheme under the Commonwealth Act.

A prisoner eligible to apply for an international transfer may include a mentally impaired prisoner and a person who has been released on parole. An Australian prisoner in a foreign country will be able to seek a transfer to Australia to complete his or her sentence in Australia. A foreigner who is a prisoner in Australia will also be able to apply for a transfer to his or her home country to complete serving the Australian sentence in that country. These are general prisoner transfers.

In addition the Commonwealth Act provides for a prisoner convicted by a tribunal dealing with war crimes in the former Yugoslavia or Rwanda to be able to be transferred to Australia to serve the sentence. A transfer of a tribunal prisoner to Australia will occur only if the prisoner has some connection with Australia. A prisoner transferred to Australia will be treated as a Federal prisoner for the purposes of the enforcement of the sentence. Under the Bill it will become possible to use the Commonwealth scheme for the purposes of transferring prisoners between the Territory and foreign countries. A prisoner eligible for a transfer to the Territory from a transfer country will be required to demonstrate community ties with the ACT.

The ACT Minister's consent will be required where prisoners are to be transferred to and out of the Territory. Currently the ACT does not have its own prison and therefore an overseas prisoner with community ties with the ACT will be transferred to a New South Wales gaol. For this purpose, consent of the relevant New South Wales Minister will also be needed. In the case of an ACT prisoner transferred out of Australia, the Bill provides that the Territory law relating to enforcement of the sentence will cease to apply to the prisoner. Nonetheless the ACT Executive's power to grant a pardon or remission of sentence or penalty in relation to that prisoner will not be limited.

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