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Wednesday, 4 June 2008
Page: 4381

Mr DEBUS (Minister for Home Affairs) (9:03 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Matters) Bill 2008 contains three minor but important criminal law amendments.

This is the first criminal law bill that I have brought before the parliament. I look forward to bringing many more, including a victims rights package and federal sentencing reforms eventually. Each of these larger packages will be the subject of extensive public consultation.

In the meantime, there are some minor amendments that require attention as a matter of priority and they are contained in this bill.

The first amendment will reinsert the maximum penalty of two years imprisonment for the secrecy offence in subsection 60A(2) of the Australian Federal Police Act 1979. The penalty provision was inadvertently repealed by the Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner (Consequential Amendments) Act 2006. The amendment does not alter the elements of the offence in any way but simply reinserts the penalty which was previously in the provision before it was inadvertently repealed.

The penalty for the offence is backdated to the date when the penalty was repealed. This is important as the prohibition for the secrecy offence continued to be in force even though there was no penalty for it. If the provision were not retrospective, individuals convicted of the offence between 2006 and now would otherwise be able to escape punishment.

The second measure is an amendment to part ID of the Crimes Act 1914. Part ID of the Crimes Act deals with the collection and use of DNA material by Commonwealth law enforcement agencies. Part ID also sets up the National Criminal Investigation DNA Database as a platform to facilitate the matching of DNA profiles across Australian jurisdictions. The bill will amend section 23YV of the Crimes Act to remove the requirement that a second review of part ID be held within two years of the completion of the first review.

Because the first review was held in 2003, the second review was due to commence in March 2005. In early 2005, however, the database was still only partially operational. The amendment provides that the review should now commence no later than 1 November 2009. This will allow time for the database to be fully operational when the review takes place. The review itself will assess trials which have involved DNA matching and the adequacy of safeguards as well as any matters that have arisen in court proceedings. The review will also analyse the implementation of the recommendations from the first review in 2003.

The final amendment is to the Crimes (Aviation) Act 1991, which governs crimes and other acts committed on aircrafts, or in airports or related facilities. Section 15 of the Crimes (Aviation) Act is intended to ensure that standard ACT criminal laws apply to all Australian flights. However, the current reference to ACT laws in the Crimes (Aviation) Act is out of date. Currently, only offences contained in the ACT Crimes Act 1900 apply on flights, while those in the ACT Criminal Code 2002 do not.

The amendment will ensure that both the ACT Criminal Code and the ACT Crimes Act apply to conduct on relevant flights. The amendment will also introduce a regulation-making power into section 15 of the Crimes (Aviation) Act. That will provide flexibility in the event of future changes to ACT criminal law.

In summary, this bill contains three minor but necessary changes to ensure that Commonwealth criminal law legislation is kept up to date.

Debate (on motion by Mrs Bronwyn Bishop) adjourned.