Territory Stories

Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 23 May 1995



Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 23 May 1995

Other title

Parliamentary Record 11


Debates for 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





Publisher name

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

Place of publication


File type



Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

Copyright owner

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



Parent handle


Citation address


Page content

DEBATES - Tuesday 23 May 1995 there is no doubt in my mind that that is appropriate. I commend to the attention of the Attorney-General a paper, entitled, The Control o f Delegated Government Functions in Relation to the Maintenance and Enforcement o f the Criminal Law, by Justice Mary Gaudron. It is worth while quoting the abstract: The past decade has witnessed a considerable transformation in the practice, procedure and personnel involved in the investigation o f prosecution o f crime in Australia. Central to these developments, in both the Commonwealth and the states, has been the institutionalisation o f the police functions o f investigation and prosecution. Largely as a response to the particular problems presented by organised crime, the criminal justice system in Australia has increasingly relied upon Royal Commissions o f Inquiry into criminal activities, special commissions o f inquiry, state drug commissions, the National Crime Authority and Directors o f Public Prosecutions for the efficient discharge o f these functions. As these bodies are fast becoming an integral part o f the legal and political framework o f our criminal justice system, Justice Gaudron argues that it is now timely that we turn our attention, not only to the extent to which the powers they exercise have a potential for administrative efficiency, but are also properly accounted and subject to review. This paper provides an outline o f the constitutional evolution o f the powers o f investigation and prosecution o f offences against the criminal law and shows, through an examination o f aspects o f the organisation and structure o f these commissions and authorities, that the powers they exercise are little constrained by traditional checks and balances. In democratic societies, the necessary corollary to the effective maintenance o f the criminal law is the preservation and protection o f individual liberties. Justice Gaudron concludes that, in order to preserve this proper balance in the face o f the changes to our criminal justice system necessitated by the nature o f modern crime, it may be necessary, as Professor Davis observes, to look beyond our jurisprudence o f statutes and judge-made law to a jurisprudence o f administrative justice to devise procedures and mechanisms suitable to ensure that the powers these bodies exercise are not insulated from review. What is this parliament about to do? It is about to remove that capacity. It is about to move in the other direction from the direction that this paper is suggesting. Let me say, in respect of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, and having been opposition spokesman for legal affairs when the office was instituted in the Northern Territory, that I strongly support the independence of the office. I strongly support the entrenchment of the office and that it has judge-like tenure, but it would be a mistake to confuse the judge-like tenure of the office with the idea that the Director of Public Prosecutions is part of the judiciary and not, as he is - and as I believe I have demonstrated - part of the executive. 3583