Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Monday, 23 November 2015
Page: 13271

Mr PYNE (SturtLeader of the House, Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science) (15:19): I present the explanatory memorandum to this bill and move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

Anthea Bradshaw-Hall is the daughter Martin and Ros and the sister of Craig and Paul. I acknowledge the presence of Martin and Ros, Craig and Paul, and other members of their family in the gallery today, but I sincerely regret that they have to be here at all. They are here because over 21 years ago their daughter, their sister, was murdered in Brunei. She was 26 years old and her whole life was ahead of her. They are here because no-one has ever been tried for Anthea's murder. Law enforcement agencies are confident that there is enough evidence to charge the only suspect and prosecute that person in Australia, but until this bill becomes law there could be no justice for Anthea. They are also here so that never again will an Australian family, having suffered the tragedy of a murder of their child overseas, have to wait 21 years to see the wheels of justice start to turn. It is a testament to the love of Anthea's family and their relentless pursuit of justice today that I move the second reading of the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Harming Australians) Bill 2015.

The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Harming Australians) Bill will amend Division 115 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 to provide for the retrospective application of offences of murder and manslaughter of an Australian citizen or resident overseas. This bill will enable prosecution of these offences in Australia under Australian law in certain circumstances. The bill will also include safeguards for the retrospective application of these offences. Division 115 of the Criminal Code currently provides for four offences resulting in harm to Australians, including murder, manslaughter, recklessly causing serious harm or intentionally causing serious harm to Australians. These offences have extraterritorial application and were enacted following the 2002 Bali bombings. The existing offences were given retrospective commencement of 45 days to apply from 1 October 2002.

These amendments will extend the operation of the offences of murder and manslaughter of an Australian citizen or resident of Australia overseas to crimes committed prior to 1 October 2002. The maximum penalty under the new laws will be life imprisonment for murder and 25 years for manslaughter. While there are a range of tools at the disposal of Australia's law enforcement agencies, these amendments will clarify that the crimes of murder and manslaughter of Australians can be prosecuted wherever and whenever they occur.

Due to their retrospective operation, the new offences include safeguards to ensure their compatibility with Australia's obligations under international law. Conduct constituting the offence must be an offence at the time of commission under the law of the country in which the conduct occurred. This is known as the 'dual criminality' requirement. A person convicted of the new offences will also have the benefit of the lowest applicable penalty for the offence as between the laws of Australia and the country in which the conduct occurred. This is known as the 'benefit of the lowest penalty' requirement. These two requirements ensure that Australia's criminal laws operate consistently with Australia's obligations under international law on the use of retrospective criminal offences.

As a further safeguard, and consistent with all other offences in division 115 of the Criminal Code, the Attorney-General's written consent is required to commence proceedings under these provisions. This is an important safeguard which enables the Attorney-General to consider the circumstances of a case prior to commencing prosecutions.

The genesis of this bill was a tragedy, but the bill will close a loophole that has allowed great injustice. It will help end the injustice suffered by the Bradshaw family for over 21 years and it will ensure that those who seek to harm Australians in the future know that they will be held to account in a court of law.

This bill was co-sponsored in the other place by the Attorney-General and Senator Nick Xenophon. Senator Xenophon introduced his own version of this bill in 2013, and I have been pleased to work with him and the Attorney to ensure the passage of this bill through both houses of parliament.

It was President Kennedy who said that things do not happen; things are made to happen. This bill will become law because the Bradshaw family, Senator Xenophon and I made it happen. The Bradshaws carry a burden that no family should have to, but I am very pleased that today, in the best traditions of this parliament, justice is closer for Anthea.

I commend the bill to the House.