Page 3780 - Week 10 - Thursday, 27 August 2009

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One of the things that became very clear early in the piece, Mr Speaker, is that there is no known public opinion. When we went looking for what public opinion was, we found that in Australia there was very little evidence as to what public opinion was in relation to this matter. We did find that there had been a law report inquiry in the UK which had done some public opinion work. As a result of that, it became clear that at least in the UK, most people took the view that murder was intentionally killing someone.

We in the ACT have a particular history in relation to murder. I think it is worth reflecting on that. Before the Crimes Act was patriated to the ACT, the commonwealth set up the definition of murder as it currently stands in the Crimes Act and purposely removed the arm that related to grievous bodily harm. It also removed from the ACT statute book the provisions relating to felony murder.

It was interesting that when we started this inquiry, no-one could give us a really good reason or explanation as to why that happened. At the instigation of the committee, the committee secretary actually approached the Attorney-General of the time, Mr Bernard Collaery, to see if we could find some reasonable clarification of why that happened. There seemed to be nothing on the record; so we thought that it was important to know why we had the laws that we currently do.

Mr Collaery was extraordinarily helpful to the committee because he was able to go back before the time that the bill was patriated to the ACT and to point out that there had been a substantial inquiry at the commonwealth level by an eminent group of jurists who had made recommendations in relation to how murder provisions should be considered in Australia. Because the commonwealth still had control of the Crimes Act in the ACT, they moved to amend the Crimes Act in relation to murder in the ACT in line with the recommendations of this eminent group which was headed by a former High Court justice.

In doing so, the commonwealth Attorney-General at the time consulted the Attorney-General here who, in turn, consulted with the ACT’s own community law reform committee, which was headed, in its turn, by former ACT justice Mr Kelly, and consisted of other jurists. As a result of that, there was general agreement that the law should be as it was, as it stands today, and that this bill that we are debating will amend.

By contrast, the attorney, when he introduced his amendments to the Crimes Act, had very little to say about why we should make this change. In fact, I ran the word counter over it, Mr Speaker. The attorney introduced and justified this radical change to the law in the ACT in just 244 words.

Mr Corbell: It is the common law, Mrs Dunne.

MRS DUNNE: The radical change which has been in the ACT—

Mr Corbell: It is the common law in every other state and territory in the country.

MRS DUNNE: It has been in the ACT in a codified system since 1990. Mr Speaker, the attorney can comment. He can respond to this report in the normal way. As a

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