Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (4 March) . . Page.. 477 ..
MS TUCKER (4.19): I seek leave to move amendments 21 and 22 circulated in my name, together.
MS TUCKER: I move amendments 21 and 22 [see schedule 1 at page 492]. This is about notice to the Assembly when the Public Trustee modifies, disposes of or destroys restrained property. I think this is fairly self-explanatory. It is about putting on the public record what is happening. Otherwise, there is no way for us to keep track of it.
MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for the Environment) (4.19): Mr Deputy Speaker, the government opposes Ms Tucker's amendments but sympathises with the import of her amendments. It is important that there is openness in these things, and Ms Tucker's amendments are designed to ensure an appropriate degree of openness in the revealing of information at the point when seized or confiscated property is to be disposed of.
Section 102(1) says:
The public trustee must give written notice of a proposed sale, modification or destruction of restrained property under section 101 (the proposed action) to-
(a) the owner of the property (if known); and
(b) anyone else the public trustee believes may have an interest in the property.
Ms Tucker's amendment adds a paragraph there:
(c) the Minister.
Ms Tucker's proposed 102(1A), her next amendment, then provides that:
(1A) The Minister must present the notice-
the notice that he or she was given under 102(1)(c)-
to the Legislative Assembly within 3 sitting days after the day the Minister receives the notice.
My department advises me that it is the view of our law enforcement agency, the AFP-a view reinforced by the DPP-that there are issues for police investigators and directors of public prosecutions concerning the potential forced release of information about the public notification of a proposed sale, modification or destruction of restrained property in this way. The concerns go essentially to the putting into the public domain of information about the destruction of restrained property.
The example provided to me by the AFP, and reinforced by the DPP, is that in drug activities the police not unusually, through their investigations, seize amounts of drugs. Just recently, huge marijuana crops have been discovered. The police confiscate that asset and destroy it. But often police do not disclose the discovery of, say, drugs until