Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (25 March) . . Page.. 839 ..
MR HUMPHRIES: Listen to me, Mr Hargreaves. The vast majority of people who appear before the court in the circumstances that we are talking about, from the Belconnen Remand Centre, would not want to appear live. For the reasons Mr Rugendyke pointed out, they would not want to appear on most occasions. When you go to the watch-house under the police station or to the cells under the court, for example, you cannot smoke. So those prisoners who do smoke, and a very high proportion of them do, will not be able to smoke while they are waiting to speak to the court, and the chances are that most of them will not want to be in that position. What is more, under the provisions we have put forward here, in the cases where people say, "I want to appear in court because I want to be able to do certain things. I want to be able to make a submission in person", or whatever reason they might have, probably in the majority of cases the court, where it has a discretion under our proposals, will accede to that request.
Mr Berry: Maybe.
MR HUMPHRIES: I think in the majority of cases it will probably accede. So we are talking about a quite small number of cases where they do not; but the question is: What are those cases? Why would a court not want to accede to a request from a party appearing before it to appear in person? That is what we have to focus on in this debate. What are the reasons? Mr Speaker, I think that there are some very good circumstances where the court ought to have the discretion to be able to say, "No, it is not in the interests of the administration of justice that this particular person appear in the court live"; that is, their solicitor or counsel should be able to appear, they should be able to appear themselves by remote audiovisual link, but, for various reasons, it might not be appropriate for them to appear in the court. For example, we have on occasions had people before the courts - - -
Mr Hargreaves: This is Nineteen Eighty-four stuff.
MR HUMPHRIES: I am giving you the examples, and I just ask you to listen to them. We have on occasions had people before the courts who have been extremely disruptive of the work of the courts. For example, members will recall the famous incident of Mr Eastman picking up a water jug from the bar table and hurling it at a member of the magistracy sitting on the bench, and the court having to adjourn while order was restored. Unfortunately, members of the bench, and the whole court, were well aware on the occasions that Mr Eastman appeared before the court that that was a very real possibility. When that happens, the court needs to be able to take appropriate steps to protect the dignity of the court and the processes used.
It is appropriate with people such as that, rare though they might be, for the court to be able to say, "We consider that it is appropriate in this case that you give your evidence by remote link from the Remand Centre". They can still talk to their counsel. The guarantee of secure communication between the accused person and their counsel is still there. They will still be able to make their submissions in full to the court, and they would have the protection of knowing that if they are dealt with in an inappropriate way by the court, if the court denies them an appearance in person in a way which