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Thursday, 22 August 1985
Page: 213


Senator COONEY(8.12) —by leave-I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

The report of the Law Reform Commission is in great part the work of Mr Tim Smith of the Victorian Bar. It is a comprehensive and vital work and he and his colleagues deserve great praise for producing it. There is pressure for change in the law of evidence. Some of this pressure comes from developments such as that brought about by technology. It is appropriate that the law be reformed to accommodate such developments. Other pressures are not so appropriate-for example, the pressure which seeks to impugn civil rights in the interest of more readily obtaining convictions.

This report deals with with concepts fundamental to the character and quality of our society. These rules which determine such questions as how we deal with people charged with criminal offences, what weight we give to privacy, what powers we give to police and public authorities and where the onus of proof is to be placed deal with concepts fundamental to the quality and character of the community in which we live. Society needs protection not only from criminal activity but also from the activity which is perpetrated, often with the best of motives, in an attempt to curtail that criminal activity but whose nature is such as to be oppressive and dangerous to the values of society. Mr Smith and his colleagues in producing this report have dealt with those concepts and the balance to be observed between public interest and private rights. I simply want to mark in the Senate the gratitude the community owes for the work he and his colleagues have done in producing this report.

Question resolved in the affirmative.