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Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Page: 1084

Senator LUDWIG (QueenslandMinister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Minister Assisting on Queensland Floods Recovery) (18:44): The government does not support retaining the mandatory double jeopardy ground for refusing assistance. The bill will make the double jeopardy ground for refusal a discretionary rather than a mandatory ground for refusal as there may be exceptional circumstances where it is appropriate to provide assistance, notwithstanding double jeopardy concerns. For example, this includes where there is fresh and compelling evidence that was not available at the original trial, such as new DNA evidence or evidence obtained through technological developments or where there are other circumstances accepted in Australia as being exceptions to the double jeopardy principle. It may also be appropriate to provide assistance if there are doubts about legitimacy of the original trial and there is a fresh trial in a third country.

In recent years most Australian jurisdictions—I think it has been acknowledged—have also amended their criminal law to provide for exceptions to the double jeopardy rule in exceptional circumstances; for example, as Senator Wright outlined, where fresh and compelling new evidence emerges. This amendment does not gavel with the rule as such; it provides a discretion to the minister. This amendment will ensure that Australia is able to provide assistance in these exceptional cases and reflects the evolving jurisprudence on double jeopardy.

Question agreed to.