Page 3927 - Week 12 - Thursday, 20 October 2005

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Leave granted.

DR FOSKEY: It is a minor contribution because I do support the Criminal Code (Administration of Justice Offences) Amendment Bill 2005, as it puts forward reasonable methods of dealing with administration of justice offences in the ACT. Although some of the provisions in the bill appear to be quite strong, they are reasonable when compared with the courts’ need to process law.

The greatest change that this bill makes is to include in legislation testimony to be given in, or in connection with, all legal proceedings, rather than just judicial proceedings, as the need to receive truthful and honest evidence is a requirement of all legal proceedings.

It is interesting to note, in light of the scrutiny of bills committee report, that there is some contradiction between the human right to liberty and the legal rule that ignorance of the law is no excuse. However, I believe the committee and the government have both provided sufficient explanation as to why our community should follow the legal rule in the case of administration of justice, to ensure that the courts are able to process our laws in an efficient and reasonable manner. I also appreciate that the government has conducted thorough consultation with the courts in drafting this legislation.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.

Criminal Code Harmonisation Bill 2005

Debate resumed from 23 June 2005, on motion by Mr Stanhope:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (11.41): Mr Speaker, this bill is one in a series of bills that will see the eventual harmonisation of all ACT legislation with the Criminal Code 2002. Harmonisation is essentially the process of reviewing and revising ACT offence provisions to ensure they are in a form consistent with the principles of the criminal code. In this bill, some 32 acts and six regulations have been rewritten to make them consistent with the code. The acts cover matters such as the registration of births, deaths and marriages through to regulation of such activities as our city’s rates.

In general, the harmonisation is to reformulate offences so that the physical elements and the fault elements can be clearly identified. The physical elements, of course, are a description of an act or omission while the fault element is a degree of fault required for the offence to apply, such as the degree of intention, knowledge or recklessness. Section 22 of the code will provide a fault element by default if one is not specified and if strict and absolute liability is not expressed or applied. I think that is a positive step.

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