Territory Stories

Questions Day 2 - Wednesday 19 March 2014



Questions Day 2 - Wednesday 19 March 2014

Other title

Parliamentary Record 11


Questions for 12th Assembly 2012 - 2016; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 12th Assembly 2012 - 2016




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





File type



Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

Copyright owner

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



Parent handle


Citation address


Page content

QUESTIONS Wednesday 19 March 2014 630 Sexual Assault Victims Benefits under Reforms Mr HIGGINS to ATTORNEY-GENERAL and MINISTER for JUSTICE As part of the Pillars of Justice framework, you are focusing on victims of crime and reforming the justice system to better meet their needs. Can you inform the House about the reform you are currently working on which aims to benefit victims of sexual assault? ANSWER Madam Speaker, as members of this House are aware, I have engaged in a number of law reform projects since becoming the Attorney-General. This is one I started working on shortly after becoming the Attorney-General, after reading a Tasmanian Law Reform Commission report in relation to joint trials. As the common law currently operates, there is a presumption against joint trials where you have multiple victims of one or more offenders. But, where you have multiple victims of a single offender, the current presumption is in favour of separate trials for each particular matter. This often means a victim in one matter becomes a witness in the next matter, so the trauma of having to go through the process of giving evidence may occur on a number of occasions. I believe, as did the recommendations of the Tasmanian Law Reform Commission indicate, it is time to revisit the way we do these things. Consequently, we are looking at introducing legislation which will reverse the presumption against joint trials into a presumption in favour of joint trials. Whilst this will stray into the area of coincidence and tendency evidence, a person who stands accused by a number of people of committing repeated sexual offences should, under normal circumstances - and so long as they are still extended a fair trial - be heard by a single jury in a single trial for all matters. I do not believe it is unreasonable. It would be up to any presiding judge to give comprehensive instructions to a jury in dealing with each matter separately. It will be a rebuttable presumption and, therefore, if any injustice is extended, or fairness of trial is qualified, the defence may argue to have the matters heard separately. Nevertheless, as a community, with one eye firmly fixed on the victim and the other on a fair trial, the joining of matters to be heard in a single trial is appropriate. I am certain members of the community of the Northern Territory would also agree it is a particularly good reform in the law of the Northern Territory. I expect many people would welcome a fair system which understands there are victims involved. Roads in the Bush Election Commitment to Improve Mr VATSKALIS to MINISTER for TRANSPORT You won government by promising bush voters improvements to bush roads. Instead, all we have seen are roads and bridge openings for work funded by the previous Labor government. The Chief Minister boasted about funding for the upgrade of six bush roads, including roads to Santa Teresa and Wadeye. This is the same funding announced by Labor on 3 August, before the election of the CLP government. When will you start listening to bush members of your government who know what needs to be done and where, and deliver your own roads funding? ANSWER Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Casuarina for his question. We would like no more than to throw cheques around for not only regional roads, but also suburban roads. Sadly, we are saddled with a $5.5bn debt, inherited from those opposite. However, a regional roads productivity package has been agreed to, a $106m funding package for regional roads jointly funded by the Australian government providing $90m and the Territory government providing $16m. We have projects happening. I was in Canberra last week, talking to the Deputy Prime Minister about a roads package under consideration, which will see regional roads - these are economic development roads and the upgrading of beef roads. This is so we can generate economic development, which did not appear to be on the oppositions agenda when in government. Ms LAWRIE: A point of order, Madam Speaker! Standing Order 113: relevance. When will you deliver your roads funding? If you have been discussing it with the federal government, please table a list of roads and the amounts you are seeking? Madam SPEAKER: Minister, you have the call. Mr STYLES: That was a strange interjection and point of order. We are in negotiation with the Australian government, but, sadly, the Australian people have been saddled with in excess of $300bn debt. I pick up on the point of order by the Leader of the Opposition. The only thing the opposition built was debt. See the pyramids of debt. When you look at what the Leader of the Opposition did