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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 6 May 2010) . . Page.. 1839 ..

Currently, the act authorises the court to issue an arrest warrant in the event of an accused person failing to attend court in response to a summons. The process for issuing the warrant, in this case, is simpler than issuing an arrest warrant in the first instance, because the summons has already been issued.

However, there is a gap in the law for how the court is to deal with an accused person who has attended court in response to a summons but has failed to attend any subsequent adjourned hearing on the same matter. Currently, where an accused person fails to attend a subsequent hearing, the court only has the option of issuing an arrest warrant in the first instance. The process involved in getting this warrant fails to take into account the fact that a summons has already been issued, and therefore results in a duplication of effort by the court. There is no justification for not applying the simplified arrest warrant procedure to this circumstance.

Accordingly, the amendments ensure that the process that applies in issuing an arrest warrant where an accused person fails to appear in the first instance also applies to the situation where the accused person appeared once, but failed to appear in a subsequent adjourned hearing.

The amendments will not remove any protections which currently apply to accused persons in relation to the issuing of an arrest warrant. The arrest warrant will continue to be issued only where the person is informed of the date and time of the adjourned hearing, and the information must continue to be substantiated by oath of the informant or witness. The amendments also ensure that where a lawyer has appeared on behalf of the accused person in the first instance, an arrest warrant can only be issued where the accused person has been given notice of the date and time of the adjourned proceeding.

JACS bills are invaluable in ensuring that legislation continues to give effect to the policy decisions that resulted in the enactment of the territory’s laws. They allow the government to be responsive to community and stakeholder concerns, thereby delivering on the government’s commitment to be alert to the territory’s changing needs and attitudes. The bill I present today is no exception. It introduces amendments to the statute book of a relatively minor and generally uncontroversial nature, providing this Assembly with an opportunity to ensure, in a timely fashion, that the territory’s laws continue to operate with minimal confusion or uncertainty, and address current challenges and issues.

I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mrs Dunne) adjourned to the next sitting.

Construction Occupations Legislation (Exemption Assessment) Amendment Bill 2010

Mr Barr, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

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