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Royal Commissions Amendment Act 1982

Authoritative Version
Act No. 139 of 1982 as made
An Act to amend the Royal Commissions Act 1902
Administered by: Prime Minister and Cabinet
Date of Assent 24 Dec 1982
Date of repeal 10 Dec 2015
Repealed by Amending Acts 1980 to 1989 Repeal Act 2015

Royal Commissions Amendment Act 1982

No. 139 of 1982

 

 

 

 

An Act to amend the Royal Commissions Act 1902

[Assented to 24 December 1982]

BE IT ENACTED by the Queen, and the Senate and the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia, as follows:

Short title, &c.

1. (1) This Act may be cited as the Royal Commissions Amendment Act 1982.

(2) The Royal Commissions Act 19021 is in this Act referred to as the Principal Act.

Commencement

2. This Act shall come into operation on a date to be fixed by Proclamation.

Definitions

3. Section 1b of the Principal Act is amended—

(a) by inserting after the definition of “Commission” and “Royal Commission” the following definitions:

“‘document’ includes any book, register or other record of information, however compiled, recorded or stored;


 

 ‘legal practitioner’ means a barrister, a solicitor, a barrister and solicitor, or a legal practitioner, of the High Court or of the Supreme Court of a State or Territory;

‘member’, in relation to a Commission, means—

(a) in the case of a Commission constituted by one person—that person; or

(b) in the case of a Commission constituted by 2 or more persons—each of those persons;”; and

(b) by adding at the end thereof the following definition:

“‘relevant Commission’ means a Commission established by Letters Patent that declare that the Commission is a relevant Commission for the purposes of the provision in which the expression appears.”.

4. Sections 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the Principal Act are repealed and the following sections are substituted:

Power to summon witnesses and take evidence

“2. (1) A member of a Commission may summon a person to appear before the Commission at a hearing to give evidence and to produce such documents or other things (if any) as are referred to in the summons.

“(2) The member of a Commission presiding at a hearing of the Commission may require a person appearing at the hearing to produce a document or other thing.

“(3) A Commission may, at a hearing, take evidence on oath or affirmation and for that purpose—

(a) a member of the Commission may require a person appearing at the hearing to give evidence either to take an oath or to make an affirmation in a form approved by the member of the Commission presiding at the hearing; and

(b) a member of the Commission, or a person who is an authorized person in relation to the Commission, may administer an oath or affirmation to a person so appearing at the hearing.

“(4) In this section, a reference to a person who is an authorized person in relation to a Commission is a reference to a person authorized in writing, or a person included in a class of persons authorized in writing, for the purposes of this section by the President or Chairman of that Commission, or by the sole Commissioner, as the case may be.

Failure of witnesses to attend or produce documents

“3. (1) A person served, as prescribed, with a summons to appear as a witness at a hearing before a Commission shall not, without reasonable excuse—

(a) fail to attend as required by the summons; or


 

(b) fail to attend from day to day unless excused, or released from further attendance, by a member of the Commission.

Penalty: $1,000 or imprisonment for 6 months.

“(2) A person appearing as a witness at a hearing before a Commission shall not, without reasonable excuse, refuse or fail to produce a document or other thing that he was required to produce by a summons under this Act served on him as prescribed or that he was required to produce by the member of the Commission presiding at the hearing.

Penalty: $1,000 or imprisonment for 6 months.

“(3) It is a defence to a prosecution for an offence against sub-section (2) constituted by a refusal or failure to produce a document or other thing to a Commission if it is proved that the document or other thing was not relevant to the matters into which the Commission was inquiring.

Search warrants

“4. (1) Where—

(a) a relevant Commission has reasonable grounds for suspecting that there may be, at that time or within the next following 24 hours, upon any land or upon or in any premises, vessel, aircraft or vehicle, a thing or things of a particular kind connected with a matter into which the relevant Commission is inquiring (in this section referred to as ‘things of the relevant kind’); and

(b) the relevant Commission believes on reasonable grounds that, if a summons were issued for the production of the thing or things, the thing or things might be concealed, lost, mutilated or destroyed,

the relevant Commission may apply to a Judge of a prescribed court for the issue of a search warrant under sub-section (3).

“(2) A reference in sub-section (1) to a relevant Commission includes a reference to a member of a relevant Commission authorized by the relevant Commission to act under that sub-section.

“(3) Where an application under sub-section (1) is made by a relevant Commission to a Judge of a prescribed court, the Judge may, if he is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for issuing the warrant, issue a search warrant authorizing a member of the Australian Federal Police or of the Police Force of a State or of the Northern Territory, or any other person, named in the warrant, with such assistance as he thinks necessary and if necessary by force

(a) to enter upon the land or upon or into the premises, vessel, aircraft or vehicle;

(b) to search the land, premises, vessel, aircraft or vehicle for things of the relevant kind; and

(c) to seize any things of the relevant kind found upon the land or upon or in the premises, vessel, aircraft or vehicle and deliver things so seized to the relevant Commission.

“(4) There shall be stated in a warrant issued under this section on the application of a relevant Commission—

(a) a statement of the purpose for which the warrant is issued, which shall include a reference to the matter into which the relevant Commission is inquiring and with which the things of the relevant kind are connected;

(b) whether entry is authorized to be made at any time of the day or night or during specified hours of the day or night;

(c) a description of the kind of things authorized to be seized; and

(d) a date, not being later than one month after the date of issue of the warrant, upon which the warrant ceases to have effect.

“(5) If, in the course of searching, in accordance with a warrant issued under this section, for things of a particular kind connected with a matter into which a relevant Commission is inquiring, the person executing the warrant finds—

(a) any thing of another kind that he believes on reasonable grounds to be connected with that matter; or

(b) any thing that he believes on reasonable grounds to be connected with another matter into which the relevant Commission is inquiring,

and he believes on reasonable grounds that it is necessary to seize that thing in order to prevent its concealment, loss, mutilation or destruction, the warrant shall be deemed to authorize him to seize that thing.

“(6) A reference in this section to a Judge of a prescribed court shall be construed as a reference to—

(a) a Judge of the Federal Court of Australia; or

(b) a Judge of a court of a State or Territory.

“(7) In this section, ‘thing’ includes a document.

Application by telephone for search warrants

“5. (1) Where, by reason of circumstances of urgency, a relevant Commission considers it necessary to do so, the relevant Commission may make application by telephone for a search warrant under sub-section 4 (1).

“(2) Where a Judge issues a search warrant upon an application made by telephone, he shall—

(a) complete and sign that warrant;

(b) inform the relevant Commission of the terms of the warrant and the date on which and the time at which it was signed; and

(c) forward a copy of the warrant to the relevant Commission.

“(3) Where a search warrant is issued upon an application made by telephone, a member of the staff of the relevant Commission or a member of the Australian Federal Police or of the Police Force of a State may complete a form of warrant in the terms indicated by a Judge under sub-section (2).


 

“(4) A form of warrant duly completed in accordance with sub-section (3) shall be deemed to be a warrant issued under section 4.”.

Penalty for refusing to be sworn or to give evidence

5. Section 6 of the Principal Act is amended—

(a) by omitting “Penalty: One thousand dollars.”; and

(b) by adding at the end thereof the following sub-section:

“(2) The penalty for an offence under sub-section (1) is a fine not exceeding $1,000 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 6 months.”.

6. Section 6a of the Principal Act is repealed and the following section is substituted:

Self-incrimination

“6a. (1) It is not a reasonable excuse for the purposes of sub-section 3 (2) for a person to refuse or fail to produce a document or other thing that he was required to produce at a hearing before a Commission that the production of the document or other thing might tend to incriminate him.

“(2) A person is not entitled to refuse or fail to answer a question that he is required to answer by a member of a Commission on the ground that the answer to the question might tend to incriminate him.

“(3) This section does not apply where the offence in respect of which the production of a document or other thing or the answer to a question might tend to incriminate a person is an offence with which the person has been charged and the charge has not been finally dealt with by a court or otherwise disposed of.”.

Arrest of witness failing to appear

7. Section 6b of the Principal Act is amended by omitting from sub-section (3) “the police force of the Commonwealth or of a State or Territory” and substituting “the Australian Federal Police or of the Police Force of a State or of the Northern Territory”.

Witness need not disclose secret process, &c.

8. Section 6d of the Principal Act is amended by omitting sub-sections (3) and (4) and substituting the following sub-sections:

“(3) The Commission may direct that—

(a) any evidence given before it;

(b) the contents of any document, or a description of any thing, produced before, or delivered to, the Commission; or

(c) any information that might enable a person who has given evidence before the Commission to be identified,

shall not be published, or shall not be published except in such manner, and to such persons, as the Commission specifies.


 

“(4) A person who makes any publication in contravention of any direction given under sub-section (3) is guilty of an offence punishable, upon summary conviction, by a fine not exceeding $2,000 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months.”.

Repeal of section 6e

9. Section 6e of the Principal Act is repealed.

10. Section 6f of the Principal Act is repealed and the following section is substituted:

Power of Commission in relation to documents and other things

“6f. (1) A Commission, a member of a Commission or a person who is an authorized person in relation to a Commission may

(a) inspect any documents or other things produced before, or delivered to, the Commission;

(b) retain the documents or other things for so long as is reasonably necessary for the purposes of the inquiry to which the documents or other things are relevant; and

(c) in the case of documents produced before, or delivered to, the Commission—make copies of matter contained in the documents, being matter that is relevant to a matter into which the Commission is inquiring.

“(2) Where the retention of a document or other thing by a Commission ceases to be reasonably necessary for the purposes of the inquiry to which the document or other thing is relevant, the Commission shall, if a person who appears to the Commission to be entitled to the document or other thing so requests, cause the document or other thing to be delivered to that person unless the Commission has furnished the document or other thing to a person or body referred to in paragraph 6p (a), (b), (c), (d) or (e).

“(3) In sub-section (1), a reference to a person who is an authorized person in relation to a Commission is a reference to a person authorized in writing, or a person included in a class of persons authorized in writing, for the purposes of that sub-section by the President or Chairman of that Commission, or by the sole Commissioner, as the case may be.”.

Examination of witnesses by counsel, &c.

11. Section 6fa of the Principal Act is amended by omitting “barrister or solicitor” (wherever occurring) and substituting “legal practitioner”.

12. Section 6h of the Principal Act is repealed and the following section is substituted:

False or misleading evidence

“6h. (1) A person shall not, at a hearing before a Commission, knowingly give false or misleading evidence with respect to any matter, being a matter that is material to the inquiry being made by the Commission.

“(2) An offence against sub-section (1) is an indictable offence and, subject to this section, is punishable on conviction by imprisonment for a period not exceeding 5 years or by a fine not exceeding $20,000.

“(3) Notwithstanding that an offence against sub-section (1) is an indictable offence, a court of summary jurisdiction may hear and determine proceedings in respect of such an offence if the court is satisfied that it is proper to do so and the defendant and the prosecutor consent.

“(4) Where, in accordance with sub-section (3), a court of summary jurisdiction convicts a person of an offence against sub-section (1), the penalty that the court may impose is a fine not exceeding $2,000 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months.”.

13. Section 6k of the Principal Act is repealed and the following section is substituted:

Destroying documents or other things

“6k. (1) A person who, knowing or having reasonable grounds to believe that a document or other thing is or may be required in evidence before a Commission wilfully—

(a) conceals, mutilates or destroys the document or other thing;

(b) renders the document or other thing incapable of identification; or

(c) in the case of a document, renders it illegible or indecipherable,

is guilty of an offence.

“(2) An offence under sub-section (1) is an indictable offence and, subject to this section, is punishable on conviction by imprisonment for a period not exceeding 2 years or by a fine not exceeding $10,000.

“(3) Notwithstanding that an offence under sub-section (1) is an indictable offence, a court of summary jurisdiction may hear and determine proceedings in respect of such an offence if the court is satisfied that it is proper to do so and the defendant and the prosecutor consent.

“(4) Where, in accordance with sub-section (3), a court of summary jurisdiction convicts a person of an offence under sub-section (1), the penalty that the court may impose is a fine not exceeding $2,000 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months.”.

14. Before section 7 of the Principal Act the following section is inserted:

Commission may communicate information

“6p. Where, in the course of inquiring into a matter, a Commission obtains information that relates, or that may relate, to the commission of an offence, or evidence of the commission of an offence, against a law of the Commonwealth, of a State or of a Territory, the Commission may, if in the opinion of the Commission it is appropriate so to do, communicate the information or furnish the evidence, as the case may be, to—

(a) the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth, of a State or of the Northern Territory;

(b) the National Crimes Commission established by the National Crimes Commission Act 1982;

(c) a Special Prosecutor appointed under the Special Prosecutors Act 1982;

(d) the Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police or of the Police Force of a State or of the Northern Territory; or

(e) the authority or person responsible for the administration or enforcement of that law.”.

Protection to Commissioners, &c.

15. Section 7 of the Principal Act is amended by adding at the end thereof the following sub-section:

“(3) A legal practitioner assisting a Commission or appearing on behalf of a person at a hearing before a Commission has the same protection and immunity as a barrister has in appearing for a party in proceedings in the High Court.”.

16. After section 7 of the Principal Act the following section is inserted:

Commission may have concurrent functions and powers under State laws

“7aa If, with the consent of the Minister, any functions or powers are conferred on —

(a) a sole Commissioner; or

(b) all the members of a Commission,

by the Governor of a State or a Minister of a State, the sole Commissioner, or the members of the Commission, as the case may be, may perform those functions or exercise those powers in conjunction with the performance or exercise by the sole Commissioner, or by the members of the Commission, as the case may be, of his or their functions or powers under this Act.”.

Repeal

17. Sections 9, 12, 13 and 14 of the Principal Act are repealed.

18. The Principal Act is amended by adding at the end thereof the following section:

Regulations

“17. The Governor-General may make regulations, not inconsistent with this Act, prescribing all matters—

(a) required or permitted by this Act to be prescribed; or

(b) necessary or convenient to be prescribed for carrying out or giving effect to this Act.”.

 

NOTE

1. No. 12, 1902, as amended. For previous amendments, see No. 4, 1912; No. 1, 1933; No. 93, 1966; No. 216. 1973; No. 36, 1978; No. 19, 1979; and No. 26, 1982.