Page 2536 - Week 07 - Thursday, 18 June 2009

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and Violent Offences Legislation Amendment Act 2008 will operate as intended. One of the amendments is the addition of a further option for the court to appoint a person to ask a vulnerable witness questions on behalf of the accused person when the accused person is self-represented and has not appointed a legal representative to act on their behalf for the examination of the vulnerable witness. The current scheme allows a legal representative to be appointed for this purpose, and this amendment expands the scheme to allow persons who are not legal representatives to act effectively as the mouthpiece for the accused person. The court will have the option of appointing an appropriate person, who will not necessarily be a lawyer, to ask questions on behalf of the accused person that the accused person has formulated.

This expansion of the scheme ensures that, while vulnerable witnesses are still protected from the trauma of being asked questions directly by an accused person, the accused person’s right to test the evidence against them is preserved, and the court has the opportunity to minimise delays to the proceedings that might otherwise occur if the court needs to repeatedly adjourn a case to allow an accused person to seek legal representation in circumstances where the person will not or cannot obtain legal representation.

In relation to the Magistrates Court Act 1936, the Crimes Legislation Amendment Act 2008 introduced the concept of hand-up committals. During the implementation of this act by my department, a number of practical issues concerning the implementation of these reforms, including questions that affect the transition from the previous scheme to the new scheme, have been raised. The bill I am introducing today makes a number of minor amendments to the Magistrates Court Act that provide clarity around the transition to the new scheme and to ensure that the intentions behind the policy decisions that the reforms were based on are articulated as clearly as possible.

The bill also makes amendments to the provisions of the Magistrates Court Act that determine the path to be followed when a defendant does not attend court to answer their charges. The bill amends the provisions to change the manner in which the human rights of defendants who do not attend proceedings are protected, while allowing the criminal justice system to continue to operate in an effective manner.

In relation to the Supreme Court Act 1933, the Crimes Legislation Amendment Act 2008 introduced amendments to the threshold at which matters become indictable matters that can be heard by the Supreme Court. The bill introduces a provision that removes uncertainty about the ability of the Supreme Court to find alternative verdicts when the alternative offence is now a summary offence.

In relation to the Crimes (Sentencing Administration) Act 2005, last year the Assembly passed the Children and Young People Act 2008, which was a significant piece of legislation which addresses a range of areas that impact upon the daily lives of children and young people in the territory, such as children and young people in employment, children and young people involved in the criminal justice system and children and young people for whom there are care and protection concerns.

Schedule 1 of the Children and Young People Act 2008 provides for modern criminal justice laws that apply to children and young people that focus on rehabilitation,

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