Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 13 Hansard (Tuesday, 16 November 2010) . . Page.. 5388 ..
MRS DUNNE: Scrutiny report 30 contains the committee’s comments on eight bills, seven pieces of subordinate legislation, three government responses and one private member’s response. The committee has commenced its deliberations on the Workplace Privacy Bill 2010 and will provide significant comment on the bill in its next report.
The committee also expressed some concern that the practice of presenting bills and then scheduling them for debate in the next sitting period is putting pressure on the committee and possibly jeopardising the scrutiny process. Report No 30 was circulated to members when the Assembly was not sitting. I commend the report to the Assembly.
Criminal Code Amendment Bill 2010
Debate resumed from 23 September 2010, on motion by Mr Corbell:
That this bill be agreed to in principle.
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (10.04): The opposition will support this bill, which introduces a defence of lawful possession into the Criminal Code. It covers people who can show their possession of otherwise prohibited material or items is the result of their work or employment in the criminal justice system, is for law enforcement purposes or is reasonable in the circumstances for the law enforcement or administration of justice purposes in which the person is engaged.
Under current law, there is some doubt that people working in the criminal justice system and who are in possession of prohibited material or items could claim the defence for such possession. Indeed, the important feature of this bill is that the defence is available only to people who are employed by or engaged in the criminal justice system. It is not available to ordinary members of the public.
The defence that this bill confers on employees and other persons engaged in the criminal justice system is notwithstanding the Legislation Act 2001. That act at section 196(1) says:
A provision of a law that gives a function to an entity also gives the entity the powers necessary and convenient to exercise the function.
Quite helpfully, the explanatory statement gives a number of examples and quite specifically talks about the possession of child pornography. The statement notes that the Crimes Act 1900 imposes an absolute liability offence if a person intentionally possesses child pornography. The only available defence is that the person had no reasonable grounds to suspect that the material was child pornography.
So, by way of example, in the course of his duties, an investigating officer, a police officer, seizes a person’s computer which contains child pornography and he is