Territory Stories

Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 23 May 1995



Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 23 May 1995

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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





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Tuesday 23 May 1995 accountability o f the Attorney-General o f the day. The director is required to include in his report to parliament any case where the director is precluded by this provision from taking any action he otherwise would have taken . Quite clearly, it is the practice in all jurisdictions. The fact that both are able to exercise that decision to launch a prosecution should not be read as being somehow inconsistent because it is not. M r Ede: That is not what I said. I was not talking about the situation where he decides to prosecute. It is where he decides not to prosecute that I saw the contrary ... M r BELL: The member for Port Darwin quoted from the second-reading speech. If he looks at the Director o f Public Prosecutions Act itself, he will see that, in a particular case, the Attorney-General cannot take over ... M r Stone: I did not say that he could. M r BELL: It is ancillary to the general issue of the scrutiny of the Ombudsman. There are several sections of the Director o f Public Prosecutions Act that describe the relations. I do not see that that either strengthens or weakens the argument about the Ombudsmans scrutiny. It is certainly an important issue. As I said, when I was speaking in the second-reading debate, the independence of the DPP is of fundamental importance in respect of a particular case. That is enshrined in section 28. The Chief Minister seemed to be arguing, and I was not quite sure why, that the Attorney-General had all the powers of the DPP anyway. The argument seemed to be that it is all right because the Attorney-General can be asked questions in this Assembly. I do not believe this is as good a form of scrutiny in respect of the rights of individual Territorians who may be aggrieved by departmental decisions or decisions of authorities, nor do I regard it as being as valuable as the quite dispassionate investigations that the our Northern Territory Ombudsmen carry out. M r Stone: To make that admission is a reflection on you then. M r BELL: It is not a reflection on me. It is a reflection on the nature of a parliament that sits until 11 pm, 30 days a year. M r FINCH: Mr Chairman, the Leader of the Opposition is becoming quite tangled up. In the very simplest of terms, what he is saying is that the Ombudsman should have the power in effect to challenge a decision by the DPP in one of 2, and only 2, scenarios. If the DPP decides to prosecute and the decision is questionable or incorrect, the courts will determine whether it is a correct or an incorrect prosecution. If he decides not to prosecute, the ability is there for the matter to be taken to the Attorney-General to proceed with prosecution of the case if, on the weight of the evidence, he determines that that is appropriate. The opposition would have us accept that the Ombudsman should have the power to challenge such a determination. I think that is a most absurd suggestion by the Leader of the Opposition. 3597