Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (24 March) . . Page.. 775 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
this is the important point for Mr Rugendyke, and I hope during this speech to change Mr Rugendyke's opinion on the second Bill -
did not constitute a criminal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed.
Discussions about retrospectivity all go to making an offence that which was not an offence at the time it was committed. That is what we are discussing here; that is what article 15 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights says. It says quite specifically:
No one shall be held guilty of any criminal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a criminal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed.
We are not toying with or touching that principle at all in this legislation. The scrutiny of Bills committee went on:
The law proposed by the Dangerous Goods (Amendment) Bill 1999 is not -
Mr Rugendyke needs to listen clearly to this -
a law which imposes criminal liability on past conduct.
It is not a law which imposes criminal liability on past conduct. The scrutiny of Bills committee's report continues:
It is perhaps a matter for debate whether the law might, in terms of Article 15.1 ... be characterised as one which would impose "a heavier penalty ... than the one that was applicable at the time when the criminal offence was committed".
That is, according to the scrutiny of Bills committee, if the approach of the courts were followed. The scrutiny of Bills committee concluded:
If the approach of the courts were followed, this Bill would not be so regarded;
The scrutiny of Bills committee pointed out to us the analysis on this issue by F.A. Bennion in Statutory Interpretations, second edition (1992), which the Attorney obviously has not read. The report continues:
What the Bill does is to enlarge the time -
and this is the important point for Mr Rugendyke -
within which a prosecution may be commenced.