Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

17 September 2015

Vanessa Goodwin, Attorney-General

Right to Appeal legislation tabled in Parliament

The Hodgman Liberal Government has tabled in Parliament a Bill to introduce a new Right to Appeal mechanism in Tasmania.

The amendment to the Criminal Code Act 1924 will provide for a new Right to Appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeal in circumstances where there is fresh and compelling evidence.

The Tasmanian Government announced last year that we would introduce Right to Appeal legislation and we are pleased to be delivering on that commitment following extensive consultation with stakeholders and the legal fraternity.

As the prosecution have had the right to seek a retrial on the basis of fresh and compelling evidence or evidence of a tainted outcome since 2008, we believe it is fair that a convicted person be afforded the same opportunity.

Currently, if new evidence emerges after a convicted person's appeal rights before the courts have been exhausted, the only option that person has is to petition the Attorney-General and the Governor to exercise the royal prerogative of mercy.

It is the Government’s view, and that of many in the community, that this is not the right process. Appeal decisions should be made by the courts, not executive government.

The Bill applies only to the most serious of crimes, including:

  • Murder, manslaughter, grievous bodily harm, wounding, and armed robbery;
  • Serious sexual crimes such rape, sexual offences involving children, incest, production and distribution of child exploitation material, and aggravated sexual assault; and
  • Other serious crimes such as kidnapping, aggravated burglary and crimes relating to trafficable quantities of controlled substances.

If a convicted person satisfies the Court of Criminal Appeal that there is “fresh and compelling evidence” and that as a result there has been a substantial miscarriage of justice, the Court may enter an order of acquittal or order a retrial.

This Bill is similar to amendments introduced in South Australia in 2013. Basing our Bill on South Australian law will provide precedent and guidance in Tasmanian cases.

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