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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 20 August 2009) . . Page.. 3439 ..

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.

Crimes Legislation Amendment Bill 2009

Debate resumed.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (11.00): The opposition will support this bill, which introduces a range of technical amendments to ensure the smooth implementation—

Mr Hargreaves interjecting—

MRS DUNNE: Mr Hargreaves, can you be quiet—of the Crimes Legislation Amendment Act 2008 and the Sexual and Violent Offences Legislation Act 2008 passed in August 2008 and effective from 30 May 2009.

The bill amends a number of pieces of legislation, and I will highlight just a few. The amendments to the Criminal Code 2002 and the Criminal Code Regulation 2005 extend the commencement date for the definition of “default application date” from 1 July 2009 to 1 July 2013, thus delaying by four years the application of chapter 2, general principles of criminal responsibility, to certain offences.

The chapter contains all the general principles of criminal responsibility that apply to any offence against any territory law, irrespective of how the offence is created. The explanatory memorandum states that this is to “allow time for the harmonisation process to continue”. Whilst I support the amendment as part of the bill overall, I do have some concerns about the length of time the amendment calls for. I wonder does this suggest the government is dragging its feet to the tune of four whole years? This is a matter of concern because it seems typical of the Stanhope-Gallagher government that they simply cannot meet deadlines.

It seems to be an endemic characteristic of this government that they are incapable of any level of professionalism when it comes to project management. Indeed, the attorney tried to ignore this point, because his presentation speech sheds no additional light at all on the rationale for this amendment.

Amendments to the Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1991 provide that an accused person who does not have legal representation may not personally examine a witness whom the court considers to be a vulnerable witness. There are also provisions that deal with the process required to satisfy this measure, including a court appointment of a representative. A court appointed representative may only ask questions of the witness as directed by the accused and must not provide the accused with legal or other advice. The court can rule on the suitability of the representative and of the questions and can adjourn to enable the representation issues to be settled. The model adopted mirrors the New South Wales arrangements.

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