Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (26 November) . . Page.. 3050 ..
MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (11.25): I present the Crimes (Amendment) Bill (No. 7) 1998, together with its explanatory memorandum.
Title read by Clerk.
MR MOORE: I move:
That this Bill be agreed to in principle.
Mr Speaker, this Bill seeks to amend the Crimes Act 1900. The proposed amendments are directly related to proposed amendments to the Mental Health (Treatment and Care) Act 1994 which are also being introduced into the Assembly today. The amendments are simply consequential amendments required due to the proposed changes to the Mental Health (Treatment and Care) Act.
The provisions in Part XIA of the Crimes Act deal with unfitness to plead, mentally dysfunctional offenders and the defence of mental illness and were passed at the same time as the Mental Health (Treatment and Care) Act in 1994. The Crimes Act provisions, like those in the Mental Health (Treatment and Care) Act, are to expire in February 1999. This sunset clause was instituted to ensure that the provisions introduced in 1994 were reviewed in the short term.
The operation of Part XIA of the Crimes Act was considered in the review of mental health laws which commenced in March 1997. However, the proposed substantive changes to Part XIA of the Crimes Act 1900, developed during the consultation process, are not proceeding at this time. They include provision for special hearings in the Magistrates Court, committal proceedings where the accused is unfit to plead and a special hearing by a judge alone. The changes have been largely suggested by agencies within government and it has not been possible to draft and settle these amendments with relevant stakeholders in the criminal justice system at this time.
The substantive Crimes Act amendments which are to be deferred are not related to any of the changes being made to the Mental Health (Treatment and Care) Act 1994. Nor are any changes to that Act dependent on the deferred amendments to the Crimes Act. The package of Crimes Act amendments will be introduced in the first sittings of the Assembly next year. The amendments which this Bill makes are only those required as a consequence of the proposed amendments to the Mental Health (Treatment and Care) Act as well as a provision to repeal the sunset clause.
Debate (on motion by Mr Wood) adjourned.