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Tuesday, 1 February 1994
Page: 81

Mr KERR (Minister for Justice) (10.20 p.m.) —Given the hour, I think we will have to resume debate on the Crimes (Search Warrants and Powers of Arrest) Bill in the morning. I will make some brief comments in relation to the amendment. The government does not intend to accept the amendment. Tomorrow morning I will address the specific points that have been raised in the course of debate. I thank all honourable members for the courteous way in which they have approached this bill. I will respond to each of the points of substance that have been addressed, albeit briefly, tomorrow morning.

  The proposal to refer this matter to the House of Representatives standing committee does have some attractiveness. Had the matter been raised with me at an earlier stage, it may have been possible to secure an agreement with the Leader of the House (Mr Beazley) for subsequent parliamentary time and an agreement with the Australian Democrats that might have obviated the need for further and subsequent proceedings in the Senate. Regrettably, my understanding is that, notwithstanding any undertaking that might be given to that effect by the opposition, the Democrats, and in particular Senator Spindler, have a particular interest in this matter and will be referring this matter in the Senate to the Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. Without the opportunity to discuss this matter with either the Leader of the House or with the other parties in the Senate, I think we would simply be doubling up the work that obviously will be commissioned in the committee stage for review of this bill.

  I should place on record before I address some of the specifics that, whilst I am glad of the general expression of the opposition supporting this legislation, I think the impression from simply reading the debate might be that this legislation is oppressive. Far from it. This legislation reflects a commitment, first manifested by the Law Reform Commission and later by the Gibbs committee, to improve the way in which we commit ourselves to a fair enforcement of the criminal justice system and certainly does not commit us to measures which are oppressive.

  In that general regard, I make mention of the findings of the Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills, which is charged with reporting to the Senate in relation to proposed issues which may require the attention of that chamber. In relation to this bill, which was introduced on 17 November 1993, that Senate committee stated:

The bill proposes to amend the Crimes Act 1914 to implement recommendations of the review of Commonwealth criminal law providing specific powers and safeguards relating to search, arrest and other matters for the investigation of most Commonwealth offences. The bill deals with matters such as the power either of a police officer or a private citizen to arrest a person without a warrant. This may be regarded as trespassing on the rights of an individual who is arrested. In all the circumstances of the bill however in which personal rights and liberties are affected, either the provisions are the same as the existing law, both common law and statutory law, or they afford greater protection to personal rights and liberties. For this reason the committee makes no further comment on the bill.

Mr Deputy Speaker, I think this would be a convenient time, were you so disposed at this stage, to move to the adjournment. I will conclude my remarks in the morning, if that suits the convenience of the House.

  Debate interrupted.