Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 21 August 2008) . . Page.. 3536 ..
Apart from that the bill is pretty much uncontested. There is not too much contention on this bill. There are a couple of sensible amendments. It is a pity it has not gone further. We will be supporting it.
DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (9.19): Just briefly, this bill updates and streamlines various processes for the DPP, the courts and other relevant parties. We will be interested to see the results of the trial of the court attendance notice. We are looking forward to feedback, whether from the prosecutors or the defence. I hope that will be documented and, of course, taken on board.
Given the current resource pressures on the DPP it does make sense to streamline practices where we can, but this should not happen at the expense of proper court process. Indeed, the changes in this bill are all reasonable and I hope and expect that they make a positive difference to all parties involved in our judicial system. If that is not the case, I hope that it is reviewed.
MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (9.20), in reply: I thank members for their support of this bill. This bill contains a number of reforms to the ACT’s court legislation, which has been the subject of progressive reform since the Court Procedures Act was passed in 2004.
This bill contains new initiatives such as improved reference appeal procedures and time saving changes to requirements for written statements admitted as evidence. The main feature of the bill is the introduction of a new and improved method for commencing criminal proceedings in the Magistrates Court, known as the court attendance notice or CAN.
The current process requires police officers to attend court to lay information before a magistrate so that the court can issue a summons for the attendance of the defendant on a particular date. This has resulted in a waste of time and money for the police, courts, the Director of Public Prosecutions and other court stakeholders. It is inefficient and results in a poor rate of attendance by defendants and a diversion of court resources from more substantive issues.
CANS has been used successfully in other jurisdictions, including New South Wales and Queensland, for a number of years now. A CAN is issued at the time of charging and provides all the information required by the defendant or accused, including a brief outline of the particulars of the offence, the time and date that the defendant or accused must be in court and the consequences of non-attendance.
The CAN process delivers a number of improvements, including keeping more police on the street and allowing more time for the courts to deal with substantive issues. It will also reduce the amount of time accused people remain in police custody as it will significantly simplify the process by which their criminal matters are commenced.
Another benefit to the accused is the receipt of more information about the charge when they are released from custody and greater certainty about the nature of the charge. The current information and summons procedures will remain in the legislation for a 12-month trial period after which it is expected that the existing