This speech was give on 26/11/2013 in the NSW Upper House. You can read the full debate online here.
Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE [11.18 a.m.]: I move:
- (1) That this House notes that:
- (a) on 17 October 2006 the Parliament of New South Wales passed legislation making changes to the operation of the double jeopardy principles in New South Wales;
- (b) the changes apply to cases where there is a life sentence offence, and where fresh and compelling evidence of guilt exists or where an acquittal has occurred for a serious offence where the acquittal was tainted by perjury or similar, or where a single judge directed a jury to acquit the person;
- (c) many assumed that these changes would apply to the Bowraville murders in which, over a five-month period, three Aboriginal Children, being Colleen Walker-Craig, Evelyn Greenup and Clinton Speedy-Duroux, were murdered in the small town of Bowraville;
- (d) the initial police investigation of these murders 22 years ago was characterised by communication being flawed crucial evidence being lost, crime scenes not being properly identified, witnesses being poorly interviewed and legitimate lines of inquiry not being followed up properly;
- (e) although unsuccessful prosecutions have been brought for each of the murders, as yet there has not been a trial where all three murders were considered together, and to date no person has been convicted of these crimes; and
- (f) on 8 February 2013 the Attorney General, the Hon. Greg Smith, MP, advised that he would not exercise his power under section 115 of the Crimes (Appeal and Review) Act 2001 to allow an application to be filed in the Court of Criminal Appeal seeking a retrial.
- (2) That the Standing Committee on Law and Justice inquire into and report on the reform of the double jeopardy law adopted in New South Wales in 2006 and in particular:
- (a) whether the provisions of the Crimes (Appeal and Review) Amendment (Double Jeopardy) Act 2006 are meeting its objectives; and
- (b) that in the course of its inquiry the committee consider in detail the case of the Bowraville murders.
This matter was before the House last week and all parties indicated in principle support for an inquiry into the Bowraville murders. Members who contributed to the debate acknowledged the need for the families of that community to be heard by their elected representatives. The Government said last week that it was not in a position to support the motion because it wanted to look more closely at the terms of reference and to draft some amendments that would satisfy its concerns about the inquiry becoming a murder investigation. Whatever the strengths of a parliamentary inquiry, they are never the same as those of a police investigation and we cannot conduct a murder investigation within a parliamentary inquiry. I believe that all parties agree on that position.
The Government has since provided my office with amended terms of reference and I understand that the Leader of the Government will move an amendment to the motion. The Greens accept not only that amendment but also the Government’s goodwill in supporting this inquiry. We have a vast amount of business to debate today, including bills dealing with planning, petroleum and crime. It reflects great credit on this House that it recognises that, notwithstanding all that work, debating the establishment of an inquiry into the Bowraville murders 23 years after those children lost their lives should take precedence and should be the first matter debated today. I commend the Government for joining the Opposition, the Christian Democratic Party—Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile particularly—the Shooters and Fishers Party, and my colleagues in The Greens for the way in which the House has dealt with this matter. I acknowledge the work of the Government in meeting us at this point. I commend the motion to the House.