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Monday, 25 May 2009
Page: 4177

Ms LEY (4:04 PM) —The purpose of the Law and Justice (Cross Border and Other Amendments) Bill 2009 is to amend existing legislation that facilitates law enforcement, judicial procedures and dispute resolution across more than one jurisdiction. Schedule 1 of the bill intends to facilitate the operations of the Cross Border Justice Scheme to the NPY Aboriginal lands of the central desert region of Australia to enable judicial officers, police and other officials to deal with offenders from any of the participating jurisdictions, which are Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory.

This bill contains a range of measures relating to legal proceedings with a cross-border element, and it includes New Zealand. Disputes having connection with different states are governed by the Service and Execution of Process Act 1992. Australia also has a cooperative scheme with New Zealand for the service of subpoenas under the Evidence and Procedure (New Zealand) Act 1994, the EPNZ Act. The amendments proposed by this bill are intended to provide some additional flexibility and to broaden the coverage of the existing regime.

The proposals are to, firstly, amend the SEPA to support the Cross Border Justice Scheme. This is a joint initiative of the Western Australian, South Australian and Northern Territory governments to apply initially to the border region NPY lands in the central desert. This will allow criminal justice officials to deal with offenders from any of the participating jurisdictions provided the offender has some connection with the region. The scheme operates under state and territory law but amendments to the SEPA are necessary to ensure that the SEPA does not override those arrangements. Secondly, this will amend the SEPA to clarify that prisoners subpoenaed to give evidence in interstate proceedings may give evidence by audio or audiovisual link with the approval of the court. Thirdly, this will amend the EPNZ Act to include family law proceedings in the scheme relating to the service of subpoenas between Australia and New Zealand. Family law proceedings were previously excluded at New Zealand’s request but the New Zealand government has now passed amendments for their inclusion. The coalition supports the bill.