The drafting of Right to Appeal legislation announced by the Hodgman Liberal Government last year is almost complete, with a draft bill to be released for public consultation in the coming weeks.
The bill will provide for a new Right to Appeal in circumstances where there is fresh and compelling evidence. This appeal will be to the Supreme Court of Tasmania.
Currently, once 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 my 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 current system of petitioning for the exercise of the royal prerogative of mercy has been criticised by legal commentators on a number of grounds, including the lack of formal process and transparency, and a perception that political rather than legal matters may be determinative.
We anticipate that the Department of Justice will be able to commence a period of formal public consultation on the draft bill around the end of March 2015.
We have already discussed the proposal for this bill with interested parties, and we look forward to working with stakeholders, interested parties and the community on this important piece of legislation.
Given that the legislation we are preparing is similar to the model adopted by the South Australian Government, the Government reviewed with interest the decision of the South Australian Full Court in the Keogh case.
It was important to ensure that any issues presented in the South Australian legislation were dealt with. Given the outcome of the case, the Government feels confident in proceeding with this bill.
We are confident that the model is appropriate for the Tasmanian jurisdiction and that, above all, it is in the interests of justice.