JURIES (PREJUDICIAL PUBLICITY) AMENDMENT BILL

Thursday 26 February, 2015

Mr TARZIA: Come on, I only have a few minutes here; I am only warming up. I will oppose the bill, with full respect to the Attorney and his hardworking staff, who have been here for some hours now this afternoon. The bill was introduced by the Attorney on 11 February this year. I believe that it is actually exactly the same as the bill that was introduced last year and lapsed when the parliament was prorogued.

Mr TARZIA: Come on, I only have a few minutes here; I am only warming up. I will oppose the bill, with full respect to the Attorney and his hardworking staff, who have been here for some hours now this afternoon. The bill was introduced by the Attorney on 11 February this year. I believe that it is actually exactly the same as the bill that was introduced last year and lapsed when the parliament was prorogued.

As we have heard, the bill amends the Juries Act 1927, and section 7 of the act sets out particularly the provision we are talking about for trial by judge alone. The bill enables the court to order in criminal trials that the case be heard by judge alone on an application to stay the case on the ground that there has been prejudicial publicity sufficient to threaten that a fair trial occurs. I have spoken about how it is a fundamental pillar of our legal system to have the right to a jury trial. I think that should be preserved.

Apart from that, we have heard from the member for Bragg that this bill has no friends. This bill has absolutely no friends. The Law Society's criticism of the bill is scathing, and I support the Law Society in their submission. There are a number of concerns. It poses questions about the actual need for the amendment, and it poses questions about what would happen when someone loses the right to a jury trial. Apart from that, it is of particular concern that the right to a trial by jury may be lost by the manner in which the media reports a matter.

I do not wish to hold up the house's time for longer than we need to, but they are my points in summary, and I will oppose the bill on those main issues.