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Tuesday, 8 November 1977
Page: 3144

Mr James (HUNTER, NEW SOUTH WALES) asked the Attorney-General, upon notice on 18 August 1977:

(   1) Has his attention been drawn to an article in the Australian Financial Review of 17 August 1977 in which a most senior and experienced Crown Prosecutor in New South Wales, Mr Wallace, Q.C., has advocated the abolition particularly in respect of corporate crime charges, of the privilege presently available to accused persons in criminal trials of making unsworn statements from the dock which are not subject to cross-examination.

(2)   If so, will he give consideration to the abolition of this unfair privilege to accused persons, particularly in relation to charges of corporate crime and, even more particularly, in relation to persons charged with serious drug offences.

Mr Howard - The Attorney-General has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:


(2)   The administration of the criminal law and procedures is not the responsibility of the Commonwealth alone. The responsibility is shared by the Commonwealth and the States. The procedure whereby accused persons in criminal trials make unsworn statements from the dock which are not subject to cross-examination is of longstanding. Any change to this procedure, whether in relation to particular offences, such as the honourable member mentions, or in relation to all offences, is a matter which needs to be fully considered by Governments responsible. This procedure has recently been examined in England and Scotland but no changes have been made. The Government is maintaining a close watch on developments in this area.

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