General review

10.100       In 2004, the Scrutiny of Bills Committee recommended that the ‘Attorney-General’s Department should coordinate a new project to ensure that existing strict and absolute liability provisions are amended where appropriate to provide a consistent and uniform standard of safeguards’.[131]

10.101       The Government did not accept this recommendation for a number of reasons, including that the Criminal Code harmonisation project has achieved a significant degree of certainty and consistency in the application of strict and absolute liability.[132]

10.102       However, the trend in legislation brought before the Parliament to harmonise provisions with the Criminal Code is that it does not consider the policy merits of imposing strict or absolute liability. The amendments simply seek to ensure that existing strict or absolute liability offences are not interpreted as fault-based offences, as a result of the operation of s 5.6 of the Criminal Code,by expressly stating that the relevant offences are strict or absolute liability offences.[133] This suggests that there may be a continuing need to undertake a project of the kind suggested by the Scrutiny of Bills Committee, including the examination of issues such as the drafting of s 588G of the Corporations Act and provisions in prudential and environmental regulation discussed in this chapter.