Page 692 - Week 02 - Thursday, 10 March 2011

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The Clerk having announced that the terms of the petition would be recorded in Hansard and a copy referred to the appropriate minister for response pursuant to standing order 100, the petition was received.

Evidence Bill 2011

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

Title read by Clerk.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Water, Minister for Energy and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (10:04): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Today is an important day for self-government in the territory. The presentation of this bill today is a move towards ceasing the operation of commonwealth evidence legislation in the ACT. For the first time since self-government, the territory will act and exercise its right to establish an evidence regime in the territory, thereby regaining control over its application in the territory.

Mr Speaker, many Canberrans would not even be aware that the Commonwealth Evidence Act has been directly applied in the ACT since self-government, providing most of the law of evidence for the territory. This arrangement has, over time, created a number of difficulties in relation to the legal relationship with the commonwealth and how to apply other ACT procedural laws, and it is in light of these difficulties that the government has made the move to develop our own evidence legislation, a move acknowledging the very real responsibilities of ACT self-governance.

Evidence law has been the subject of national reform in recent years. In 2007 the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General endorsed a model uniform evidence bill. This model law has since been adopted in the commonwealth, New South Wales, Victoria and, more recently, in Tasmania. The model law, as adopted by the commonwealth, largely forms the existing law of evidence in the ACT. Therefore, it is important to note up-front that, while this bill is significant for the ACT in that it is for the first time a law of this Assembly, it will not substantively change the law of evidence as it now applies to the territory.

The Evidence Bill is the first of three bills to be introduced by government this year to reform evidence law in the ACT. Further bills will be introduced to repeal redundant legislation and otherwise update, consolidate and reorganise evidence law in the ACT. This bill establishes the Evidence Act 2011 and sees the territory independently implementing the model uniform evidence law agreed by attorneys-general in 2007.

Mr Speaker, model uniform evidence law arose out of a comprehensive review by the Australian Law Reform Commission in the 1980s. The commission produced model provisions to provide a modernised, structured and reasoned approach to the laws of

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