Page 2520 - Week 06 - Thursday, 23 June 2011

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

Indeed, it would be the expectation that, because of the nature of the investigation which crosses state borders in relation to terrorism offences and the investigation that occurs by the Australian Federal Police using its national powers, those offences will continue to be overwhelmingly prosecuted under commonwealth law. Of course, the constitutional requirement is that charges made under commonwealth law and the federal statute are heard by a jury. So the suggestion that this is some weakness in the ACT law is really a furphy.

Let me then return to the important substance of this bill. This is not about conviction rates. The government has been very clear about that from day one. Indeed, there is no evidence to suggest that if the number of trials that have occurred in the territory before a judge alone and that have resulted in acquittal had been conducted by a jury there would have been any change in that acquittal rate. There is no suggestion by the government about that. Those are matters for the court to determine.

But what is important is that where a decision and a finding of fact are made by a jury of 12 citizens, whether it is an acquittal or whether it is a finding of guilt, the community responds in a manner that vests greater confidence in the criminal justice system. There can be no assertion that it is the view or the opinion of just one judge. It is 12 citizens, 12 fellow citizens, who have been asked to make that judgement.

This is fundamentally what this bill is about. If someone is charged with murder or manslaughter or a sexual offence, a jury will be asked to determine questions of fact. A jury will be asked to apply a community standard to the behaviour of the accused and to make a judgement about that and then to find whether or not that person is guilty or innocent. And that adds great legitimacy to the criminal justice process.

It is, I think, time to restate the importance of juries in the criminal justice system in the territory. It is not acceptable to have the high rate of judge-alone elections that currently occurs, and this bill today is an important step in restating that fundamental role of the jury. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Detail stage

Bill, by leave, taken as a whole.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (10.49), by leave: I move amendments Nos 1 to 7 circulated in my name together [see schedule 3 at page 2556].

There are seven amendments here. There is one substantive amendment, which I will speak to, and a number of consequential amendments. I have moved them together on the advice of the Clerk’s office that this was the appropriate way to do it. Also, there was substantial warning of them in that members of the Assembly have had these amendments since Tuesday morning.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video