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8 Aug 2017

Bail (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill

Adjourned debate on second reading.

(Continued from 3 August 2017.)

The Hon. A.L. McLACHLAN (16:00): I rise to speak to the Bail (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2017 and indicate that I speak on behalf of the Liberal opposition. The Liberal Party will be supporting the second reading of the bill. My speech is relatively brief, but I will have more to say in reference to the amendments at clause 1 of the committee stage.

The bill itself introduces a limited number of amendments to the Bail Act. Pursuant to section 10 of the act, there is a general presumption in favour of bail. This presumption means that bail should be granted unless there are good reasons for it being refused. This presumption is tied to the principle that an accused person is considered innocent until proven guilty. Despite this, section 10A of the Bail Act lists certain cases in which the presumption in favour of bail is reversed. In such cases, the applicant must convince the bail authority that special circumstances exist that justify their release on bail.

The list of prescribed applicants for whom there is this presumption against bail includes people charged with offences such as manslaughter, causing death or harm or endangering life or creating a risk of serious harm when caused by the applicant’s use of a motor vehicle; serious and organised crime suspects, including those accused of failing to comply with a control order or public safety order; threats or reprisals relating to persons involved in criminal investigations or judicial proceedings; persons taken into custody in relation to the Intervention Orders (Prevention of Abuse) Act, if the alleged offending involved physical violence or a threat of the same; and persons taken into custody over serious firearm offences.

The bill before the chamber adds to this list at section 10A of the act applicants charged with an aggravated offence involving physical violence or threats of the same, if the aggravating feature is that they contravene an intervention order of the court and the offending was within the range of conduct that the order was trying to prevent.

The government advised that in these circumstances an accused will often be charged with the violent offence but the breach will be dealt with as an aggravating feature of the violent offending rather than progressing as a separate charge. This amendment aims to provide certainty that the presumption against bail will certainly apply to that offending even if it is not charged as a separate offence. The government also stated that this approach ensures that the complainant is only subjected to giving evidence in one proceeding.

The Liberal Party is supportive of such measures that are aimed at improving efficiency within our justice system and, importantly, those that aim to provide an additional level of protection to victims of such offending. The bill also removes the option of prescribed persons seeking a bail review by telephone and excludes Saturday as a working day for the purposes of the act. The government stated that such applicants would instead be brought before the court on the following working day. Given that courts have not convened on Saturdays for some time, this amendment seems sensible and appropriate. As I indicated earlier, I will speak on the amendments at clause 1. I commend the bill to the chamber.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. T.J. Stephens.

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