Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 8 Hansard (25 June) . . Page.. 2183 ..

For the Attorney's future benefit, I raise the question-which I raised with one of his staffers some time ago, when this bill was introduced-of taking the evidence of witnesses by video link. Yes, it does to an extent impinge upon the traditional entitlement of the accused to confront his accuser and have it out in court. As the report indicates, that is supported by one of the various conventions on human rights of the United Nations.

Equally, there is a very real need for vulnerable witnesses who are terrified of court proceedings to be properly cross-examined using modern technology, particularly in the case of children. I am pleased to think that, way back in the first Assembly, I had something to do with that, along with several other persons here. That was something that the current Chief Magistrate-he was also the Chief Magistrate then-was keen to see adopted, and I am very pleased that the first Assembly did that. It came in with the Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) in 1991.

Perhaps there is value in looking at another class of person to be included in the taking of television video evidence for cross-examination. We are doing it for children in all circumstances, and rightly so. That is something the court can determine, and in most instances that will certainly occur. This form of taking evidence has been extended, of course, to victims of sexual assault.

There is another category of victim, which I have asked the Attorney and the government to look at. They are people who, because of the nature of the alleged offences against them, are terrified of the perpetrators of those offences. What springs to mind, and I have seen it in my days in the courts, is victims being afraid of the defendants getting at them. They have a real fear of the defendants as a result of what occurred to them. It is particularly nasty assaults on a person, often involving multiple defendants, which present a very real case for extending this assistance even further.

It is something I would ask the current government to look at. These procedures have been used very effectively over the 10 years they have been there for children and victims of sexual assaults, and I think there is real scope for seeing whether they should be extended further.

Having looked through this series of amendments, I would say that they seem to do the job. The Chief Minister has indicated that that is pretty well it for bills coming before this place which tidy up acts of parliament and put them in modern language in this legislative program. Accordingly, the opposition will be supporting this in principle and will be supporting it at the final vote as well. I have looked at Ms Tucker's amendment, and I will be making some comments on it when she moves it.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Detail stage

Clauses 1 to 6, by leave, taken together and agreed to.

Schedule 1 agreed to.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .