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Thursday, 29 March 1973
Page: 898

Mr ENDERBY (Australian Capital Territory) (Minister for the Capital Territory and Minister for the Northern Territory) - I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of this Bill is to extend the operation of the Australian Capital Territory Evidence (Temporary Provisions) Act 1971- 1972. The Evidence Ordinance 1971 of the Australian Capital Territory was disallowed by the Senate in August 1971, on the ground that it contained important new provisions which should be open to scrutiny and debate in the Parliament. The disallowance was considered to have left the Australian Capital Territory without important substantive rules of evidence, and the Evidence (Australian Capital Territory) Bill 1972 was subsequently introduced in the Senate in terms substantially similar to those of the ordinance. The Bill was referred for consideration by the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs, which had not completed its consideration of the Bill before the elections last year.

In the meantime, in order to preserve in force the provisions of the disallowed ordinance while the new substantive Act was being considered, Parliament enacted the Australian Capital Territory Evidence (Temporary Provisions) Act 1971 and 1972, which kept the provisions of the ordinance in force until 31st March 1973. The Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) is considering introducing legislation to establish a Federal code of evidence which would apply in both the

Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. To enable this legislation to be prepared, the present Bill will extend the existing temporary arrangement. The existing legislation sets a terminal date for the temporary arrangement, but the present Bill contains no terminal date. This gives effect to an amendment moved by the Opposition in the Senate. The Government does not dispute the amendment because it has the advantage of rendering unnecessary any further amendment to the Temporary Provisions Act in the event that the proposed code could not be made operative by a particular date. I commend the Bill to the House. (Leave granted for debate to continue forthwith).

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