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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 8 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 2470 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

could lead to a prosecution. Where an inquiry extends beyond the one-year time period, people involved in the commission of the alleged offence may cease to be liable to prosecution because of the operation of the limitation period.

This situation is not limited to circumstances where reasonable grounds exist to suspect the commission of an offence before the royal commission, coroner's inquest or inquiry commences. Potentially the commission of an offence could be revealed during a coronial inquest, royal commission or inquiry or from further investigations by law enforcement agencies prompted by a royal commission, coronial or board of inquiry hearing or report.

The Government proposes, by this Bill, to ensure that prosecution of an offence under a range of legislation is able to be commenced within a reasonable period of time, irrespective of whether the offence is directly related to the subject matter under investigation by the coroner, a royal commissioner or an Inquiries Act board.

This Bill, Mr Speaker, is not retrospective. Members well know my position on retrospectivity. It is a position supported by this Assembly on many occasions. Citizens are entitled to order their affairs, secure in the knowledge that the Government will not legislate retrospectively, or, rather, that the Assembly will not legislate retrospectively to alter their rights and responsibilities.

In the debate on the amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Dangerous Goods Act, I cautioned members of this Assembly about embarking on a path that enacts retrospective legislation which creates legal obligations for past events. It remains the Government's position that this Assembly should not legislate retrospectively to alter people's rights. This Bill is prospective in its application. I assume, for the sake of consistency, that there will be amendments to the Bill to make it retrospective, but I can only repeat the warnings which the Government gave on earlier occasions about the unwise nature of that course of action. I commend this Bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Stanhope ) adjourned.


MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (10.43): Mr Speaker, I present the Animal Diseases Amendment Bill 1999, together with its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by Clerk.

MR SMYTH: I move:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

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