Page 2737 - Week 07 - Thursday, 3 July 2008
have committed the offence. So it is a two-way street. It helps to ensure that the right people are apprehended and convicted of offences. I think it is a great boon to law enforcement agencies and also generally to the justice system.
The provisions in relation to the 12-month period make it easy for samples after 12 months to be kept. It enables the police to have a greater capacity to retain evidence in ongoing investigations and prosecutions without fear that this evidence will be destroyed partway through the process. That is to be applauded.
The bill will also introduce the ability of a magistrate to make an order for a forensic procedure in the absence of a suspect, where the suspect is in custody in another jurisdiction and cannot appear by audio link or visual link at the hearing. In the case of a person who has been served with a summons to appear before a magistrate and who does not appear, this will enable a magistrate to make an order for a forensic procedure. That is a sensible provision as well.
The attorney has indicated that it brings us very much into line with the national scheme. That is to be applauded. Crime knows no boundaries. The ACT is an island in New South Wales. Anything we can do to adopt sensible procedures should be welcomed. I think that what the attorney did this morning in relation to sexual assaults, serious crime and covert operations was something that was necessary. It helps to bring us into line with other jurisdictions; it helps to counter crime. It is very much for the public good. The improvements in this bill are for the public good and will certainly help police to do their job properly—something we have always fully supported, and always will.
MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (4.50): I will be voting in support of this bill, and I will make some brief remarks in today’s debate. The changes that this bill makes are sensible and will update the original Crimes (Forensic Procedures) Act 2000 which was introduced as part of a nationwide approach to the collection and storage of forensic materials as well as the exchange of DNA information between different parts.
I note the minister’s comments in his speech in introducing the bill about the ACT being at the forefront of developments in the use and storage of DNA information and believe that this is something the territory, and especially the people who work in this area, can be proud of. An effective system for the exchange of DNA information between jurisdictions will be a critical development in the fight against crime. It is time for state and territory differences to be put aside to adopt a cooperative approach.
More broadly than just DNA data, I believe there is still resistance amongst some state jurisdictions, and the various law enforcement or security agencies with them, relating to the exchange of information. These turf wars do not benefit anyone. There should be a national database containing information to be shared easily amongst law enforcement and intelligence agencies in different jurisdictions.
This is one of the biggest single impediments to people obtaining security clearances. It defies comprehension why state police forces are so reluctant to share information across borders. One can only speculate about the rationale for that. So any step