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In this matter, Douglas J held that the Parole Board of Queensland is entitled to hear evidence on oath or otherwise and to permit cross-examination of those giving evidence in respect of parole applications. The Commissioner of the Police Service of Queensland had argued that the Parole Board lacked power to do so under the Corrective Services Act 2006. This argument was dismissed.
19 December 2019
The applicant, the Commissioner of the Police Service of Queensland, sought to challenge a decision of the first respondent, the Parole Board, by which it was decided that an Acting Inspector was to be subjected to cross-examination by the second respondent’s counsel. . The Commissioner also sought to challenge a decision that the Parole Board could take evidence on oath. .
The second respondent, Mr Nicholson, was serving a life sentence of imprisonment for murder. . He applied for parole. The body or remains of that victim had not been located and accordingly, the Parole Board was required to refuse parole unless satisfied that Mr Nicholson had cooperated satisfactorily in the investigation of the offence to identity the victim’s location: Corrective Services Act 2006, s 193A(8)(a)(iii). . For that purpose, the Board was required to have regard to a report given by the Commissioner: s 193A(7). . The report was supplied by Acting Inspector Knight. .
The Board issued an attendance notice to Acting Inspector Knight to attend Mr Nicholson’s parole hearing. . The Commissioner subsequently wrote to the Board objecting to any intention of the Board to allow counsel to put questions to the Acting Inspector. . The Commissioner argued that the Corrective Services Act 2006 did not provide for the Parole Board to take evidence on oath or otherwise during a meeting, nor did the Act provide for a party to examine or cross-examine a person. . The Board rejected those submissions and concluded that it was entitled (i) to hear evidence on oath or otherwise, and (ii) to permit cross-examination. . The Commissioner applied to review both of those decisions. .
Douglas J ultimately dismissed the application, holding that the Parole Board was entitled to take evidence on oath or otherwise, and did have jurisdiction to direct cross-examination of another party. –. His Honour agreed with the submissions made by the Parole Board and with its reliance on relevant statutory provisions. . These included:
1. Section 218 of the Corrective Services Act 2006, which provides that “[t]he parole board has the power to do anything necessary or convenient to be done in performing its functions under this or another Act”;
2. Section 219 of the Corrective Services Act 2006, which provides that the Parole Board may require a person to attend a meeting of the Board at a stated time and place and (i) give the Board relevant information, and (ii) produce a stated document containing relevant information;
3. Section 230 of the Corrective Services Act 2006, which provides that the Board may conduct its business, including its meetings, in the way it considers appropriate; and
4. Section 27 of the Acts Interpretation Act 1954, which provides that a body authorised by law to conduct a hearing for the purpose for the determination of any matter has authority to (i) receive evidence, and (ii) to examine witnesses and administer oaths.
Douglas J added that the fact that some of the language in the Corrective Services Act 2006 refers to “meetings” did not preclude the meeting from also being a hearing for the purposes of s 27 Acts Interpretation Act 1954. . His Honour referred to the heading of Ch 5, Div 2 of the Corrective Services Act 2006 which reads “Hearing and deciding application for parole order”. .