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Monday, 26 February 2001
Page: 24454


Mr Murphy asked the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 8 November 2000:

(1) Further to the answer to question No. 1925 (Hansard, 2 November 2000, page 19584), were the last medical reports provided to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) about the state of health of former Senator Malcolm Arthur Colston provided on 7 April 1999; if not, (a) how many medical reports have been submitted to the DPP since 7 April 1999 and (b) what are the dates of these medical reports.

(2) Since the Media Statement titled “Prosecution of Malcolm Colston”, dated 5 July 1999 which declared that there is no prospect that former Senator Colston will be fit to stand trial in the future, has the DPP's attention been drawn to reports that former Senator Colston has been observed (a) sitting in the audience of the television show “The New Price is Right”, (b) dining out in Brisbane restaurants, (c) shopping in Brisbane, (d) travelling within and outside Queensland, (e) providing an interview to the media and (f) engaging in correspondence with the print media.

(3) In light of the above reports on the activities of former Senator Colston since 5 July 1999 and further to the answer to question No. 1925 that, if there was evidence contrary to the earlier advice that former Senator Colston was not fit to stand trial and there was no prospect that he would be fit to stand trial in the future, will the DPP obtain fresh medical opinions on the current state of health of Mr Colston.

(4) Are the current DPP Prosecution Policies based on the UK Royal Commission on Criminal Procedure, chaired by Sir Cyril Philips, dated January 1981.

(5) Does he accept the view put forward in paragraph 6.10 at page 128 of the report referred to in part (4) that it is a material consideration of a criminal justice system that the proper objective of a fair prosecution system is not simply to prosecute the guilty and avoid prosecuting the innocent but rather to ensure that prosecutions are initiated only in those cases in which there is adequate evidence and where prosecution is justified in the public interest.

(6) Does the report further note at paragraph 6.11 at page 129 that the ability of any prosecution system to take account of these considerations of humanity (viz. age, sex, physical and mental condition (of the defendant)) and of other elements of public interest is a hallmark of fairness, provided that such criteria are applied consistently.

(7) Does the application of the Information Privacy Principles in the way they have been applied to this matter and in the matter of Christopher Skase in the prosecution of justice, combine to produce inconsistency in procedural decision making.

(8) Is leaving sole responsibility in the hands of the DPP in deciding whether to continue or discontinue proceedings precisely the kind of “lacking effective machinery for achieving conformity in prosecution policies” referred to a paragraph 6.46 on page 138 in the UK report.

(9) Are the standards applied in weighing these considerations inconsistent with weigh to such factors given by the DPP's pursuit of the prosecution of Mr Christopher Skase.

(10) Further to the answers to parts (4) and (10) of question No. 1925, are both the policy considerations of adequacy of evidence and justification in the public interest satisfied.

(11) Is the last available medical evidence now some nineteen months old; if so, does the weight of policy considerations in obtaining further evidence in determining whether to direct the DPP to resume prosecution now outweigh policy considerations that medically preclude former Senator Colston from standing trial.

(12) Have the compassionate grounds upon which this prosecution was terminated now been exhausted and should fresh evidence be called.


Mr Williams (Attorney-General) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) No. (a) and (b) Apart from reports which the DPP has obtained from medical experts consulted by the DPP, the DPP has been provided with one medical report by Dr Colston's solicitors dated 23 November 2000.

(2)(a) to ( e) Yes.

(3) Yes. The prosecution was discontinued because Dr Colston was not fit to stand trial and there was no prospect that he would be fit to stand trial in the future. The DPP is in the process of reviewing this position.

(4) No, although the report of this Royal Commission was part of the material considered in preparing the Prosecution Policy of the Commonwealth.

(5) Yes (Note: this is at paragraph 6.9 of the Report)

(6) Yes.

(7) No.

(8) No.

(9) No.

(10) See 3.

(11) No. See 3.

(12) See 3.