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Victims of Crime (Victims Rights) Amendment Bill

The Hon. A.L. McLACHLAN (22:57): I rise to speak on behalf of the Liberal opposition in relation to the Victims of Crime (Victims Rights) Amendment Bill. I advise the chamber that the opposition will not be supporting the bill. We will support the second reading to allow the progression of the bill into the committee stage, but will be opposing it at the third reading.

The Liberal opposition’s reasoning mirrors that of the government, which has just been outlined by the Hon. Mr Hanson. The Liberal Opposition has had regard to both the provisions of the bill and the substantive provisions of the Victims of Crime Act, as has the government, in particular focusing on prosecutorial decision-making. There is a need to delicately balance the involvement of victims of crime in the criminal justice process with the need to ensure that the independence of the Director of Public Prosecutions and his office is maintained.

The Victims of Crime Act, in its current form, already enables victims to be informed of a broad range of information, including, for example, the progress of investigations, charge details, applications for bail, amendments of charges, outcomes of proceedings, sentencing details and the like. Further, the current act also enables a victim who is dissatisfied with the determination made in criminal proceedings to request that the prosecution consider an appeal.

We trust that the DPP and his office and staff will continue to carry out their important role in upholding these legislative rights. It is the opposition’s view that the bill encroaches too far on the Director of Public Prosecutions’ prosecutorial discretion. This is particularly in respect of the proposed amendment that the victim can seek a stay of proceedings through the Commissioner for Victims’ Rights if the prosecuting authority made certain decisions without first consulting the victim.

Whilst we must ensure that wherever possible we keep victims informed and involved, we have an equal duty to ensure that prosecutorial discretion and the independence of the DPP is maintained. As I have indicated to the chamber, the Liberal Party will support the second reading to allow the bill to go into committee, but we will be joining with the government to vote against the bill at the third reading.

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