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Wednesday, 16 February 2000
Page: 11917


Senator PATTERSON (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs) (5:30 PM) —I move:

That these bills be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speeches incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speeches read as follows

CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT (APPLICATION) BILL 2000

One of the more exciting and ambitious projects within my responsibility has been the development of the Model Criminal Code.

Following extensive nation-wide cooperation, we have developed model offences concerning a wide range of topics, including conspiracy to defraud, assault, stalking, abduction, sexual offences, homicide, perjury, threatening witnesses, drug trafficking, the contamination of goods, slavery and sexual servitude.

As a result of the States and Territories adopting various components of the Model Criminal Code, Australians have been given greater certainty, protection and confidence under the criminal law.

The Model Criminal Code discussion papers and reports contain a comprehensive review of the law on each topic in Australia and overseas.

This body of work has come to the notice of the High Court and is now recognised throughout Australia and overseas as one of the more worthwhile contemporary law reform projects.

While there has been this tremendous progress, some effort is still required in order to harmonise Commonwealth offences with the Criminal Code.

The overall task of developing and implementing the Criminal Code has proven to be more extensive than was first anticipated in 1995.

It is therefore reasonable to amend the Criminal Code Act to defer application of some parts of the Act.

This Bill extends the date of application of Chapter 2 of the Act.

Chapter 2 contains the Criminal Code's general principles of criminal responsibility, which ultimately are intended to apply generally to all Commonwealth criminal offences.

Subsection 2.2(2) of the Bill provides for the deferral of the application of Chapter 2 until 15 December 2001.

This replaces the present provision which states that Chapter 2 will apply on the day 5 years after the day on which the Criminal Code Act received Royal Assent.

Royal Assent was given on 15 March 1995, and therefore, unless the Criminal Code Act is amended, Chapter 2 will apply in March this year.

In 1995 the Parliament set the 5 year period described in subsection 2.2(2) with the view that this would allow sufficient time for all offences under Commonwealth law to be reviewed and, if necessary, amended in order to comply with the general principles of criminal responsibility contained within the Criminal Code.

Whilst that process of review continues and significant progress has been made, it has become apparent that the original 5 year period was somewhat too optimistic.

A deferral until December 2001 in applying Chapter 2 is necessary to allow the review and adjustment process to be properly concluded across all Commonwealth legislation.

After that time, the principles of the Criminal Code will generally apply to all offences under Commonwealth law.

I believe that this Bill will assist in the implementation of the Criminal Code by permitting adequate time to review offences under Commonwealth law for the application of the Code.

If many offences are not adjusted they will become more difficult for the prosecution to prove.

The Criminal Code is a significant step in the evolution of our system of justice, and it is important that it be implemented in a way that is considered and pays careful regard to the way Commonwealth offence provisions are to work in practice.

I commend the Bill to the Senate.

MINISTERS OF STATE AND OTHER LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 1999

One of the purposes of this Bill is to allow for the appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries under section 64 of the Constitution.

Parliamentary Secretaries will, however, retain their title, roles and responsibilities—and continue to assist the portfolio Minister or Ministers.

The Remuneration Tribunal noted in its report how the job of a Parliamentary Secretary had developed significantly under several successive governments.

Parliamentary Secretaries perform a range of functions for Ministers. These include some parliamentary duties such as overseeing the introduction and debate on legislation, as well as attending to administrative and departmental matters. They are often authorised to perform statutory functions on behalf of a Minister and generally represent the Minister. As with Ministers, they are bound by the principles of collective responsibility in relation to Cabinet decisions.

To allow for such appointments, the Ministers of State and Other Legislation amendment Bill 1999 will amend the Ministers of State Act 1952 to enable the 12 Parliamentary Secretaries, appointed under section 64 of the Constitution, to be covered by that Act.

The Government has accepted the salaries for Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries recommended by the Remuneration Tribunal in its Report. Another purpose of the Bill will be to amend the Ministers of State Act to increase the maximum annual sum for the payment of salaries to Ministers, to accommodate the 12 Parliamentary Secretaries and the Tribunal's recommendations.

The Bill will also repeal the Parliamentary Secretaries Act 1980, and make certain consequential amendments to the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973, as well as a minor consequential amendment to the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

These consequential amendments are desirable simply to avoid confusion once appointments of Parliamentary Secretaries are made under section 64 of the Constitution.

Debate (on motion by Senator O'Brien) adjourned.

Ordered that the resumption of the debate be made an order of the day for a later hour.

Ordered that the bills be listed on the Notice Paper as separate orders of the day.