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Monday, 29 November 2004
Page: 88

Senator ELLISON (Minister for Justice and Customs) (6:03 PM) —This legislation does not apply only to serious criminal offences; it is broader.

Senator Brown —How broad?

Senator ELLISON —It would apply to any criminal offence under Commonwealth law—as you can get a search warrant to search premises. I think I understand Senator Brown's question correctly: he is asking whether individuals can use this bill to access information for a civil case. This provision is only available to criminal prosecution—law enforcement authorities. In the course of any criminal investigation where the police are investigating a matter and they come by evidence, there is no mechanism which then allows lawfully for that evidence to be provided to someone who has a civil suit against the person concerned. Criminal law is quite independent. If someone said they wanted an act of discovery, for instance—which is a civil procedure—in relation to a criminal prosecution, that could not be done in this case. The evidence gained in these circumstances is available for law enforcement only—for a potential prosecution, if it takes place, but for no-one else.