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Wednesday, 23 October 2002
Page: 5669


Senator IAN CAMPBELL (Manager of Government Business in the Senate) (10:22 AM) —by leave— I move:

That the provisions of standing order 111 not apply to the Crimes Amendment Bill 2002.

I table a statement of reasons justifying the need for this bill to be considered during these sittings and I seek leave to have the statement incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The statement read as follows

Purpose of the Bill

The Crimes Amendment Bill 2002 will put in place measures to enable the Commonwealth, States and Territories to access and disclose information held on DNA databases for the purposes of:

· identifying persons killed by the Bali bombing incident; and

· assisting with the investigation of the Bali bombing incident.

As the CrimTrac DNA database was established for criminal investigation and not for Disaster Victim Identification (DVI), it is now imperative that legislation be passed so that the CrimTrac system can be used for DVI for the Bali incident.

The Australian community expects us to do everything possible to re-unite relatives and friends with the victims of this attack as quickly as possible.

This legislation will amend the Crimes Act 1914 to modify the effect of Commonwealth, State and Territory provisions that restrict the ability of the Commonwealth, States and Territories to exchange DNA information. This will ensure that DNA collected and analysed by the States and Territories as a result of the Bali bombing, can be up-loaded and matched on the CrimTrac system and the results communicated to the relevant authorities both in Australia and overseas.

The application of the legislation to future incidents will require a determination of the Minister which will be a disallowable instrument. This will ensure that the existing regime remains the primary source governing the exchange of DNA information.

The amendments will also clarify the category of people to whom information may be disclosed for non-law enforcement purposes and enable the matching of the unknown deceased persons index with an unknown deceased person access.

There is a need to have the legislation apply retrospectively to ensure that the existing restrictions on the sharing of that information do not preclude its transmission to the Commonwealth.

Reasons for Urgency

The amendments to the Crimes Act 1914 are urgently required as some State and Territory police services have commenced collecting samples from relatives of those who are missing. Until legislation is enacted that modifies existing restrictions on the sharing of information held on DNA databases, the process of investigating the Bali incident and the identification of deceased persons could be delayed.

(Circulated by authority of the Minister for Justice and Customs)