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Thursday, 12 November 2015
Page: 8444

Senator JACINTA COLLINS (Victoria) (12:59): The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Harming Australians) Bill 2015 extends the retrospective application of part of division 115 of the Criminal Code—offences that were introduced, with Labor's support, in the aftermath of the Bali bombings, to ensure that those responsible were able, if necessary, to be prosecuted in Australian courts for the atrocity they had committed.

The new offences delivered in 2002—the murder, manslaughter and harming of Australians overseas—were given a very brief period of retrospective operation to ensure that they applied to the perpetrators of the Bali bombings. This bill currently before the Senate will extend the retrospectivity of the most serious of those offences—murder and manslaughter. This bill is, therefore, unusual in two respects: it operates both retrospectively and extraterritorially. This is uncommon in our legal system, and legislation of this kind ought only be made cautiously. This bill follows an earlier private senator's bill of the same purpose, introduced by Senator Xenophon. That bill was referred to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee, where difficulties with its unusual operation were highlighted in submissions by legal academics, members of the Rule of Law Institute, the Attorney-General's Department and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Labor is satisfied that those concerns have now been addressed in this new bill.

This bill now implements important safeguards to ensure prosecutions are fair and fundamental principles ensuring the integrity of our justice system are respected. It ensures that no-one can be tried in Australia where they have already been convicted or acquitted in a foreign court. It ensures that no-one can be convicted for conduct which was not already criminal where and when it occurred. Importantly, it ensures that no-one can receive a penalty in Australia higher than that which applied in the relevant country at the time. With these safeguards, no defendant could reasonably claim that the retrospective operation of these offences is unfair. For the families of Australians killed overseas, however, the measures in this bill will make all the difference.

Though the bill is of general application, it had its genesis in one tragic case—the murder of Anthea Bradshaw-Hall, a school teacher from Adelaide, in Brunei in 1994. More than 20 years on, the perpetrator of that crime has not been brought to justice. I acknowledge the bravery of the Bradshaw family in pursuing justice for Anthea and their dedicated advocacy for a change to the law. We also acknowledge the tireless efforts of Senator Xenophon on this matter. Senator Xenophon has worked towards the passage of this bill for several years now. He has worked closely with the Bradshaw family, who are constituents of his in South Australia. I would like to thank Senator Xenophon for the constructive way in which he has worked with Labor to ensure that the hole in the present law could be filled without any unintended or inappropriate consequences.

Where Australians are killed overseas, and where the relevant authorities are unwilling or unable to bring those responsible to justice, Labor considers it proper that Australia takes steps to ensure that criminal conduct does not go unpunished. In 2002, we were satisfied that the nature of the crimes committed against Australians in Bali justified the unusual step of retrospective and extraterritorial legislation. Today, we are satisfied that the example of Anthea Bradshaw-Hall shows the need for a further extension of those measures. With the safeguards it now contains, this bill will ensure that in this and similar cases in future, justice can be done. I commend Senator Xenophon and the Bradshaw family not only for addressing their own immediate circumstances but also for closing a loophole that would apply in the future. I commend the bill to the Senate.