Page 3653 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 26 August 2008

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Overall, the bill introduces significant changes that will improve the criminal justice system to ensure that it is fair, effective and responsive to the needs of our community.

I note that the Standing Committee on Legal Affairs provided a scrutiny report on this bill yesterday. The committee has made extensive comments about a number of aspects of the bill. I appreciate the views that they bring to this debate and I have already considered them closely. However, I am satisfied that no change to the bill is necessary as a result of these comments. I will be responding formally to the issues raised by the committee in a letter to the chairman shortly.

I would also like to foreshadow that, in the detail stage, I will be introducing government amendments to cover some technical changes to the bill. Since the bill was introduced, members of the legal profession have drawn to my attention that some of the technical provisions in the current act have not been complied with for some years. As such, I am changing the bill to remove these provisions and to ensure that the bill best captures the practical approach to the reforms being introduced to the committal process.

As part of this practical approach, I am also introducing provisions that enshrine the need for the prosecution to serve a copy of the prosecution brief on the accused person so that they are fully informed of the case against them. While this happens already in practice, providing a legislative basis for the provision of the evidence will assist both the prosecution and defence to have more certainty about the requirements of when evidence needs to be provided. It will also improve the compliance with the human right to a fair trial by ensuring that the defendant is fully informed of the charges they are facing.

In recognition of the need for the legal profession to be involved in how these issues are negotiated, the details of the timing and requirements for service of evidence will be the subject of court rules made by the rules committee that includes representatives from the courts, the DPP and the wider legal profession.

This bill will improve the efficiency of the courts, while protecting the rights of both the accused and victims of crime. It builds on the framework of a fair criminal justice system that this government has constantly promoted, and I commend the bill again to the Assembly.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Detail stage

Clauses 1 to 3, by leave, taken together.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (5.32): I move:

That debate be adjourned.

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