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Thursday, 5 June 2003
Page: 16196

Mr WILLIAMS (Attorney-General) (9:20 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I am pleased to introduce the Acts Interpretation Amendment (Court Procedures) Bill 2003 for consideration by the parliament.

The purpose of this bill is to ensure the continued effective and efficient prosecution of Commonwealth offences in state and territory courts.

As some members may be aware, the Commonwealth does not have its own criminal courts—our offences are prosecuted in state and territory courts.

The efficient administration of Commonwealth justice requires seamless coordination with state and territory legislation. Recently, New South Wales has moved to amend its criminal procedures, moving from the old system of a summons laid upon an information or complaint to a system of court attendance notices. It is always possible that more states and territories may make similar changes in the future.

This bill inserts a new provision into the Commonwealth Acts Interpretation Act 1901 to make it clear that a reference in Commonwealth legislation to a summons, information or complaint, or to other current forms of initiating proceedings, includes all relevant methods of initiating proceedings. This will include the new court attendance notices in New South Wales and provide for any similar amendments to state or territory procedures in the future.

This bill does not change the way that Commonwealth laws interact with state and territory procedures; it merely ensures that the status quo is maintained.

As the New South Wales changes to criminal procedure commence on 7 July 2003, the government will seek the parliament's cooperation to pass this bill promptly. This will ensure that there is no gap in the effective and efficient administration of Commonwealth justice in New South Wales.

I commend the bill to the House and table the explanatory memorandum.

Debate (on motion by Mr Edwards) adjourned.