21 February 2004


Substitution of Preamble

3. The Preamble to the Principal Act is repealed and the following Preamble is substituted:


(a) concern has arisen that a significant number of persons who committed serious war crimes in Europe during World War II may since have entered Australia and became Australian citizens or residents;

(b) it is appropriate that persons accused of such war crimes be brought to trial in the ordinary criminal courts in Australia; and

(c) it is also essential in the interests of justice that persons so accused be given a fair trial with all the safeguards for accused persons in trials in those courts, having particular regard to matters such as the gravity of the allegations and the lapse of time since the alleged crimes:'.

Sounds like the Parliament agreed with retrospective prosecutions in 1988. Indeed, so did Philip Ruddock, speaking on this bill in the House on 21 December 1988:

The argument was that the very passage of this War Crimes Amendment Bill could be construed as having overcome or removed the operation of the ordinary rules that the courts might apply, particularly in relation to the question of the passage of time. The courts would be asked to construe the legislation on the basis that the Parliament, by passing this very legislation, intended that these matters should be dealt with, even though they may have occurred 45 years ago and the question that the honourable member for Menzies (Mr N. A. Brown) has raised might well have been relevant.

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