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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (16 February) . . Page.. 125 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

exoneration for himself, the forgery that he commits, the document that he provides with the forgery, is not immune from some kind of prosecution. The person can be prosecuted for having produced the false document. But the admission itself, the supplying of the document itself, is not an act which incriminates that person.

The reason for that kind of provision is that we want to protect the revenue base of the Territory. In other words, we want to be able to find out when someone has broken the law, and we invite them to answer questions or provide documents as required by the commissioner or by the court. If you refer to clause 71, this also applies to requests by the court for information. Where those things are required by the commissioner or by the court, the person is compelled to provide them, but providing them does not incriminate that person except in respect of perjury or falsifying documents. So, an admission that they have broken the law will not entitle the commissioner to launch proceedings against that person for having broken the law. If you admit that you have breached section 25, for argument's sake, of the Land Tax Act, the admission cannot be used against you in proceedings for a breach of section 25 of the Land Tax Act. What it can be used for, obviously, is to help the commissioner to recover the revenue which the knowledge of that breach would lead to.

If you have admitted in a discussion with the commissioner that you have breached the Act, the commissioner can then go in and get the revenue which is owing to the Territory which that admission in a sense has led to, but a prosecution against that person does not follow. If the commissioner wishes to prosecute that person, other evidence will need to be obtained. The admission will not be used in a court against that person, except in those two limited circumstances referred to in paragraphs (a) and (b) of subclause (2).

Mr Speaker, I would argue to this place that it is necessary to have a power to obtain documents, but not to bring prosecutions in the court. The commissioner should not be forcing admissions or obtaining documents in order to use those to launch prosecutions, but the commissioner must have that power to protect the revenue base of the Territory. That is why this variation on the selfincrimination power needs to be there, I believe, and I would strongly urge members to give consideration to passing a power in this form. Certainly, the Government wrestled hard with this issue for some time. We understood that we needed to protect the work done by the commissioner and her officers to ensure that the tax base was protected, but we were also mindful to protect people against self-incriminating statements. I believe we have found that balance with the provisions that are contained in this clause.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (12.25): On this issue, Mr Speaker, I would say that I do have the option of exempting myself from the Cabinet on all issues of civil liberties. I chose not to, and I think that Mr Humphries' explanation as to why I did not is very good. The matter was discussed at length because the concern raised by the scrutiny of Bills committee is a concern that we all have. In fact, I think we should see this clause back the other way. It is actually a protection of the civil liberties, but at the same time it is necessary for the raising of revenue. It should be seen in the context of the previous clauses. I think it is clause 72 that it refers to. That is why I am comfortable about this having a minimal effect on civil liberties.

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