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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (18 February) . . Page.. 280 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

In circumstances where the facilities are available and it would be more convenient to take evidence or receive submissions by audiovisual or audio communications, the Bill enables a Territory court to make an order to recover the cost of expenses that were incurred in providing evidence or submissions in this way. The Bill ensures that persons can be punished for behaviour, essentially amounting to contempt, where it occurs when evidence is being given or a submission has been made in the Territory, by audio or video link, to an interstate court.

As well as facilitating the giving of evidence and making of submissions from interstate, the Bill enables evidence to be taken, a submission to be made or an appearance to be made, from a place in the ACT other than the courtroom. Currently, persons who have been remanded in custody by the Magistrates Court are required to be physically brought before the court before the end of the period for which the person was remanded. An amendment to the Magistrates Court Act 1930 will enable a person remanded to the Belconnen Remand Centre to remain at the centre but appear before the Magistrates Court by video or audio link. However, this capacity will not override the court's discretion to order that a person be brought physically before the Magistrates Court in the interest of justice.

The use of this technology will reduce the inconvenience and risks associated with transportation and escorts for a remanded person, who could be taken back and forth to court many times if the delay between the person's initial remand and the matter being heard is significant.

Mr Speaker, the use of audio and audiovisual communications will provide a more efficient and less costly means by which courts can receive the evidence of expert and other witnesses required to give evidence in criminal and civil matters and in coronial inquests and inquiries.

The Bill will not have an impact on Territory expenditure. Both the ACT Supreme Court building and Magistrates Court building have existing audio link equipment. Video equipment will be acquired to take full advantage of the legislation. Facilities for the Supreme Court are being examined. The Belconnen Remand Centre will be equipped to allow remandees to appear by video link. The Bill will, potentially, result in reduced costs in civil and criminal proceedings because it will be possible to avoid the costs associated with bringing witnesses to the ACT to give evidence in court. Mr Speaker, I commend this Bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Stanhope) adjourned.


MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (10.37): Mr Speaker, I present the Courts and Tribunals (Audio Visual and Audio Linking) Bill 1999, together with its explanatory memorandum.

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