Page 3932 - Week 12 - Thursday, 20 October 2005

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protect against, the consequences of non-compliance, and the penalty and defences, including the defences in part 2.3 of the criminal code.

I welcome the continued debate by the Assembly on strict liability, but reiterate the government’s view that the express application of strict liability is appropriate and necessary to give continued effect to the objectives of the individual acts and regulations amended by the bill. That, I think, certainly has been the position of successive governments in this Assembly and, indeed, in every parliament in Australia.

I note the committee has revised its comments on the Criminal Code Harmonisation Bill in report No 17. The government welcomes the comments and notes that the committee has suggested a revised, simplified approach for explaining strict and absolute liability, burden of proof provisions and issues relating to “reasonable excuse” in explanatory statements for harmonisation bills. The government also welcomes the committee’s confirmation that the committee does not seek a “policy” justification for strict and absolute liability in the explanatory statement, but an explanation of the human rights issues for those provisions. Indeed, in future the government will seek, where possible, to provide the assistance in the terms set out by the committee for future harmonisation bills.

Dr Foskey has just alluded to her intention to move that the bill be referred to a committee. The government does not support such a reference. The rationale for these offences, the appropriateness of criminalising certain conduct, and the application of strict liability are all matters for the individual acts and regulations—acts and regulations previously considered by the Assembly. To again debate the purpose of these acts and regulations within the context of a bill that is essentially giving the offences their intended effect so they can operate within the environment of the criminal code is not appropriate. It is more appropriate to access these offences within their own schemes, not as part of an amending harmonisation bill. The government, of course, encourages members to raise their concerns about a particular provision so that we may address those concerns.

Mr Speaker, the government has a few brief amendments to move to the bill, which I will address more fully in due course. Just for the moment, I will say that these are amendments that were identified subsequent to the introduction of the bill into the Assembly and they, essentially, go to minor matters. I will deal with them in the detail stage after we consider Dr Foskey’s proposal to refer the matter.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Reference to committee

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (12.00): I move:

That the Criminal Code Harmonisation Bill 2005 be referred to the Standing Committee on Legal Affairs for inquiry and report.

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