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Thursday, 1 March 2001
Page: 22323

Senator O'BRIEN (1:10 PM) —This bill continues the process of implementation of the criminal code. Similar bills are being introduced across portfolios with the intention of at some point ensuring that all Commonwealth criminal offences have standard elements of intention, fault, burden of proof and penalty. However, the amendments contained in this bill and in similar bills in other portfolios are not a complete harmonisation of all offences in every aspect of the policy of the criminal code.

By focusing on importing the general principles of criminal responsibility as codified in chapter 2 of the criminal code into existing offences under legislation in the Attorney-General's Department, this bill is designed to ensure that, once chapter 2 comes into effect on 13 December 2001, all offences operate in much the same way as they do now.

At this point it should be acknowledged that complete harmonisation is an enormous legislative task, but it is an important task. It is not one from which the government should shrink. The development of the criminal code has been slow and haphazard under this government. The new minister should be encouraged to take up the task of revitalising the model criminal code process. The opposition is supporting the passage of this bill. However, it needs to be made clear that this bill, as with the corresponding bills in other portfolios, involves detailed drafting changes. There may be difficulties with some of the drafting which will only become apparent as the amendments are applied across portfolios. For this reason the opposition will monitor the application of the amendments as they are applied and will move to redress any anomalies or problems which arise.

I understand that the government will in the committee stage be moving amendments that have been circulated. I understand that they are of a minor and technical nature. I indicate that the opposition has looked at those amendments and I am advised that we would support those amendments.