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House of Representatives

Law and Justice Legislation Amendment (Northern Territory Local Court) Bill 2016

Explanatory Memorandum

(Circulated by authority of the Attorney-General, Senator the Honourable George Brandis QC)

General Outline

1. The Bill would make minor, technical and uncontroversial amendments to the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 and other Commonwealth legislation to ensure that jurisdiction and powers currently being exercised under Commonwealth legislation by Northern Territory Local Court Magistrates may continue to be validly exercised after the Local Court Act 2015 (NT) which is expected to occur on 1 May 2016.

2. This Bill is an omnibus bill which would amend the following Acts: the Acts Interpretation Act 1901, the Bankruptcy Act 1966, the Customs Act 1901, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, the Excise Act 1901, the Export Control Act 1982, the Extradition Act 1988, the Fair Work Act 2009, the High Court of Australia Act 1979, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Act 1986, the International War Crimes Tribunals Act 1995, the Judicial Misbehaviour and Incapacity (Parliamentary Commissions) Act 2012, the Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner Act 2006, the Marriage Act 1961, the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act 1987, the Quarantine Act 1908, and the Royal Commissions Act 1902. The Bill would also amend the A.C.T. Self-Government (Consequential Provisions) Regulations.

3. The Bill would make amendments that are consequential to the Local Court Act 2015 (NT), which would amalgamate the Northern Territory Local Court and the Court of Summary Jurisdiction into one court called the Northern Territory Local Court and rename 'magistrates' as 'judges'. Northern Territory magistrates currently perform functions under Commonwealth legislation in a variety of contexts, including persona designata functions for the purposes of Commonwealth criminal matters, for example the issuing of warrants. A number of Commonwealth Acts confer jurisdiction and functions on Northern Territory courts and judges, including through references to the terms 'judge', 'magistrate' and 'court of summary jurisdiction'.

4. The Bill comprises one schedule.

5. Schedule 1 would make consequential amendments to the Acts Interpretation Act to ensure that:

Commonwealth legislation that refers to 'magistrate' would include references to Northern Territory Local Court Judges
where appropriate, references to 'judge' in Commonwealth legislation would not include Northern Territory Local Court Judges, and
'court of summary jurisdiction' would continue to apply to the Northern Territory Local Court.

6. The Schedule would also make amendments to various Commonwealth Acts that define or describe the terms 'magistrate', 'judge' and 'court of summary jurisdiction' (thus displacing the Acts Interpretation Act definition) to encapsulate the Northern Territory Local Court.

Financial Impact

7. There are no financial implications from implementing these amendments.

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