QLD Evidence and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2022 Receives Assent

Thursday 16 June 2022 @ 11.25 a.m. | Legal Research

Following its introduction into the Queensland Legislative Assembly on 16 November 2021 by the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, the Hon. Shannon Fentiman, the Evidence and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 (QLD) (“the Bill”) passed the Queensland Parliament on 26 May 2022. Its corresponding Act, the Evidence and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2022 (QLD) (“the Act”) received assent on 10 June 2022.

The Act makes significant reforms to the Criminal Code Act 1899 (QLD), Evidence Act 1977 (QLD), and various other pieces of legislation.

New Journalist Privilege

Most notably, the Act amends the Evidence Act 1977 (QLD) by inserting a new Part 2, Division 2B. These new provisions will establish a new journalist privilege, which aim to protect the identity of journalists’ confidential informants. The new ‘shield laws’ will create a new presumption in certain court proceedings where a journalist cannot be compelled to answer a question or produce a document that would disclose the identity of a confidential informant or allow the informant’s identity to be ascertained.

In the Explanatory Speech for the Bill made on 16 November 2021, the Attorney-General further explained that the changes:

“adopt a broad function based definition of ‘journalist’ focused on whether the activities of the person are journalistic in nature, rather than on their employment state and organisational links. This approach also accommodates the emergence of new and innovative modes and methods of communication into the future and ensures journalists are not excluded from the protections simply because they do not operate under the traditional concepts of journalism and news media”.

Viewing or examination of the body of a deceased person

The Act inserts a new section 590ASA in the Criminal Code Act 1899 (QLD). This provision establishes a specific procedure by which the prosecution in a criminal proceeding, may allow for the viewing or examination of the body of a deceased person by permitted persons.

This amendment is aimed at preventing the unnecessary delay of the release of human remains and was introduced in response to State Coroner’s inquest  recommendations.

As explained in the Bill's Explanatory Notes:

“The new provision seeks to balance an accused’s right to a fair trial with the right of families to have the remains of their loved one returned for burial as soon as possible.”

Video-recorded evidence

The Act also supports a pilot program that allows trained police officers to take video-recorded statements for complainants in domestic and family violence related criminal proceedings.

In the Bill's Explanatory Speech, the Attorney-General clarified that:

“Allowing victims to give their evidence-in-chief by way of video-recorded evidence taken by police seeks to reduce the trauma associated with victims having to retell their story over and over again. It may also help reduce the ability of the alleged perpetrator to intimidate their victim.”

The Act partially commenced on the date of assent, being 10 June 2022, with the following provisions of the Act to commence on a day still to be fixed by proclamation:

  1. Part 3, Division 3;
  2. Parts 4 to 7 and 9 (this includes the statutory frameworks for the new shield laws and video-recorded evidence pilot); and
  3. Schedule 1, Part 2.

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Evidence and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2022 (QLD), corresponding Bill, and additional explanatory materials available from TimeBase’s LawOne Service

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