Page 2742 - Week 07 - Thursday, 3 July 2008
Tonight, I would like to foreshadow that, in the detail stage of this debate, I will be introducing government amendments to cover some minor technical changes to the bill, and these have already been circulated. The first of these is an amendment to new section 49A to remove a superfluous reference to advising a person of their rights. This particular right is already covered by a number of other sections in the bill.
The second amendment removes references to places of detention in a number of sections and replaces it with a reference to serving a sentence in “or other place”. This amendment is necessary to ensure a broader interpretation of places that people may be accommodated while detained, to ensure that all reasonable scenarios are included in the section. For example, changes which have been introduced in the Children and Young People Act 2008 will affect the name of the place where children are detained, and this amendment will ensure that those changes will not deprive children of the rights available under this bill.
The third amendment changes section 84B to allow for flexible arrangements in arranging for forensic material to be analysed. The Australian Federal Police have reminded me that there are occasions when there is a need to look to overseas laboratories to access emerging technology that is not yet available in Australia. An example of that is the analysis of mitochondrial DNA which cannot yet be performed in Australia. This amendment allows for arrangements to be entered into with these laboratories, where appropriate, in order to maximise the use of these emerging technologies.
The bill also allows the use of forensic technology to assist in the investigation of crime and in the identification of missing people. It is the sort of technology that popular television shows are based on for suspense and drama in the name of entertainment but, in the reality of a police investigation, it is scientific, logical and thorough technology that assists in identifying perpetrators of crime, to make our community safer.
The practical utility of the national DNA database has been shown a number of times already. There has been more than one case reported in the media where a sample taken from a crime scene in Victoria has been matched to a suspect picked up in Darwin or Perth. Other cases which are not recorded but which are equally important are those where a body, lying unidentified in a morgue, is identified by matching a sample taken from a worried family member on the other side of the country.
With emerging technology and the popularisation of it, through the television dramas that I have referred to, comes community concern that the information contained in forensic samples can be used to compromise the privacy of those who provide them. This bill recognises this concern and it enshrines protocols on the removal of DNA information from databases so that details are not circulating endlessly without purpose.
I turn now, in closing, to two of the issues that Dr Foskey raised in relation to the scrutiny of bills report. The first of these was the destruction of identifying DNA information. The question was asked why the difference in approach between the