Criminal Code Amendment (Second Or Subsequent Appeal for Fresh and Compelling Evidence) Bill No. 42
Mrs Armitage (Launceston) - Mr President, I also thank the Leader for all the briefings we had. They were very informative and very helpful, particularly for a layperson such as myself. You have a bit of an understanding of the law but not to the depth that is required. As we say, how many people are wrongly convicted and is there a more tragic story than someone who is innocent going to prison? That is why The Shawshank Redemption is one of the most loved movies of our time.
Back in March 2014, I do not know how many people here would remember the story of Glenn Ford, a Louisiana man who was convicted and spent 30 years on death row, only to be exonerated. The comment he made when he was released was: 'My sons when I left were babies, now they are grown men with babies.' It is really touching when you think that innocent people who are found to be innocent have basically lost their lives. Thirty years out of your life, and you are not going to get those back. You are not going to get the best years of your life back. In that man's position, when he left his children were babies, all those years have gone.
I see this bill as really important that if there is fresh and compelling evidence, a case can come back. If I am correct in understanding this, when we were listening to the briefings, that previously an appeal had to be within a certain time period, was it 14 days? While you could bring up many different areas of appeal, they all still had to come in within that time frame, which made it very difficult for a lot of people. Many times the information you might get, and the fresh and compelling evidence, would not come in within the required time frame. I do see it as extremely important.
I am not going to repeat everything that has been said. A lot of very useful information has come forward from people much more learned than I, particularly with the law. The member for Windermere was saying when you do have fresh information it needs to be able to be brought forward, particularly if it shows someone has been wrongfully convicted. There would be nothing worse.
Most of the questions were answered in the briefing. I do not have a lot more to ask. I accept one of the difficulties with this bill is in relation to the victims. That was also mentioned by the member for Windermere. Sometimes for a victim who may be finding it difficult to have to go back and give evidence each time new evidence comes up - there are always going to be difficult stories and difficult situations.