Other inquiries and reviews

39.55 There are several inquiries into the various forensic procedures regimes in Australia. For example, in addition to this Inquiry’s consideration of Part 1D of the Crimes Act, the legislation provides for the following independent reviews:

    • an independent review of the operation of Part 1D of the Crimes Act to be undertaken as soon as possible after June 2002;[73]

    • if the report of the independent review identifies inadequacies with the matters covered by the review, a further independent review must be conducted within 2 years of the tabling of the first report to ascertain whether the inadequacies have been effectively dealt with;[74] and

    • an independent review of the operation of Division 11A—in relation to overseas incidents—must be undertaken as soon as possible after 12 October 2003.[75]

39.56 The independent review into Part 1D of the Crimes Act (Sherman review) commenced operation in 2002. Mr Tom Sherman AO chairs the review committee, which also includes the federal Privacy Commissioner, representatives from the AFP, the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions and the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Office. At the time of writing the report of the review committee had not yet been tabled.

39.57 The Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department advised the Inquiry that at a meeting of the Australasian Police Ministers Council (APMC) on 5 November 2002, it was resolved that in the longer term, improvements to the Model Bill would be considered by the Joint Standing Committee of Attorneys-General/APMC Working Group. The APMC resolution requires the joint working group to consider ‘specific reforms to the Model Bill which are designed to facilitate a more effective approach’.[76] As of January 2003, the process for review and formal terms of reference had not yet been finalised.

39.58 Various state and territory jurisdictions have conducted reviews of their own forensic procedures legislation. For example, the Crimes (Forensic Procedures) Act 2000 (NSW) has been reviewed by the New South Wales Legislative Assembly’s Standing Committee on Law and Justice,[77] and is under review by the New South Wales Ombudsman,[78] and by the Minister.[79] The Victorian Parliament Law Reform Committee was conducting an inquiry into forensic sampling and the uses of DNA databases in criminal investigations in that jurisdiction, until the inquiry lapsed in November 2002.[80]

[73]Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) s 23YV. Section 23YV(1) outlines the specific matters that must be reviewed.

[74] Ibid s 23YV(5).

[75] Ibid s 23YUK.

[76] Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department, Submission G228, 12 December 2002.

[77] See Legislative Council Standing Committee on Law and Justice, Review of the Crimes (Forensic Procedures) Act 2000, Report No 18 (2002), Parliament of NSW, Sydney.

[78] See NSW Ombudsman, Discussion Paper: The Forensic DNA Sampling of Serious Indictable Offenders Under Part 7 of the Crimes (Forensic Procedures) Act 2000 (2001) NSW Ombudsman.

[79] See Crimes (Forensic Procedures) Act 2000 (NSW) s 122. At the time of writing, the Minister’s report had not yet been tabled.

[80] Due to the prorogation of the Legislative Council and dissolution of the Legislative Assembly on 5 November 2002, the Parliamentary Committees ceased to hold office and all uncompleted inquiries lapsed as from that date.