Parliamentary record : Part I debates (02 October 1990)
Debates for 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
Northern Territory Legislative Assembly
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Tuesday 2 October 1990 had an indemnity and, secondly, whether I was ever formally approached and identified as the member of government whose name was allegedly used by Woods to reassure Rhonda. The short answers to both of these questions are no and no. In a television interview on Friday, I stated that I had not issued Rhonda with an indemnity and that, as far as I was aware, I was the on ly person who cou 1 d do so. Those statements were both correct. An immunity or indemnity is a formal document, issued under the hand of the Attorney-General, granting a person indemnity from prosecution for offences which they may have committed. It is generally given when witnesses in a case will incriminate themselves when giving evidence. Such an indemnity or immunity allows witnesses to give their evidence without the fear that they may later be charged with criminal offences. The Attorney-General's formal role arises only when a specific, formal document is required for presentation in court. This has not been required in this case, although it may yet be as a consequence of the investigations now under way. For the present, the prost itute known as Rhonda has a written authorisation from a senior pol ice officer, issued under section 76 of the Poisons and Dangerous Drugs Act, which authorises her to possess cannabis in order to. help police gain information about people involved.in producing and trafficking in this drug. I. table a copy of that authorisation. She has also been given a guarantee, reinforced by a letter to her 1 awyer from the then Seni or Crown Prosecutor, Mr Ray Mi nahqn, that she will not be prosecuted for offences she commits which are instigated by the pol ice duri ng her work as an informant, and I tab 1 e a copy of that 1 etter. I shoul d poi nt out also that these protections are normal around Austral ia for people who assist pol ice in the highly dangerous world of drugs. The question of an indemnity for a police informant involved. in a police operation to penetrate a drug ring in the Territory ,wascanvass,ed in general. terms with me early this year by Mr Minahan. I say 'in general terms' because the approach from Assistant Commissioner Grant to Mr Minahan was so caut i ous that Mr Mi nahan bel i eved the informant to be a man, and he conveyed the information to me in those terms. This approach is usual. for 2 reasons: firstly, that members of the ministry should not be invQlved in day-to-day operati ona 1 act i vi ti es and, secondly, to protect ,the i dent i ty of informants to the greatest extent possible. I agree. strongly with both of these principles as would any rational member of this Assembly. In the event, with the advice of the Senior Crown Prosecutor, I agreed that, if the circumstances as described by Mr Minahan were presented to me, . along with recommendations from the Solicitor-General and the Crown Prosecutor, I would be prepared to offer an indemnity to the informant. This position was conveyed to Assistant Commissioner Grant by Mr Minahan in a letter of 2 March 1990, and I table a. copy of that letter. At the time of my discussion with Mr Minahan, I had no knowledge whatsoever of Rhonda's involvement or Woods' involvement. I have since been advised that the informant was the prostitute known as Rhonda. I was' not aware of this at the time. In fact, I have never been presented with .an app 1 i cat i on for an i ndemn i ty for Rhonda. However, I wou 1 d 1 i ke to make it clear that, if it is necessary to continue this protection for Rhonda during the trial of people suspected.of producing and trafficking in .drugs, then I will not hesitate to give it. After all, that is what this matter is all about: the need to track down and punish those people who prey on t,he community through the drug trade, and I will never step back from my commitment to put those people behind bars for as long as possible. 10 668
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