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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 1 Hansard (15 February) . . Page.. 279 ..

MR TEMPORARY DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Hird): You have the call, Mr Leader of the Opposition.

MR STANHOPE: Thank you. I did want to make a point in relation to the use of a Justice and Community Safety Amendment Bill, an omnibus bill, to make significant amendments such as the amendment that is proposed by this deletion of these so-called meaningless words. I make the point, Attorney, that I do not regard the use of an omnibus bill for this purpose appropriate, and I think it is something that you should look at. I think it is something you should take up with your officers.

This is a significant change to the Forensic Procedures Act that you are proposing here and it should not have been rammed through in the way that you are proposing, and in terms of the particular explanatory memorandum that your predecessor applied when tabling this matter. This meaningless term "excluded forensic material", in the context in which it has been misapplied in this amendment, really is quite significant.

The act permits the creation of a suspect's database, but it also makes it a crime for any person to supply details for insertion into that database unless the suspect is convicted before the material is supplied. The question raised, therefore, Mr Attorney-this obviously is the point that has come to your attention-is how could the police legally place a suspect's particulars on the database and match it against the crime scene material before the suspect was convicted? If a suspect was convicted they would no longer be a suspect. They would be a serious offender, and there would be no need for a suspect's database. Hence the error that you are seeking to correct.

This is not a meaningless amendment, and I think it is regretted that the explanatory memorandum describes this as a meaningless amendment in terms of defining what constitutes excluded forensic material. That is all I will say about it. We are happy to support the amendment, Attorney. It is quite obvious that it is necessary. The provision is an absolute nonsense, of course, as it is currently drafted, and we see the need for it to be corrected.

I guess it is in that context that I regret that you did not see the need to correct the other serious mistake that is contained within that particular bill, namely the omission of the word "serious" from section 29 of the act, an omission that does create potentially very serious consequences. That is an amendment that I propose to the bill. Other than that, as I say, we support it. There is that fairly simple but very necessary amendment that I wish to make, but apart from that the proposals are sensible, serious, and necessary.

MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education and Attorney-General) (5.18): I thank Mr Stanhope for his comments. I heard his point about feeling it should be in a separate bill.

Mr Stanhope: Or appropriately described and explained.

MR STEFANIAK: Or appropriately described. I will take that up with my officers.

MR SPEAKER: You will be closing the debate, Mr Stefaniak.

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