The Criminal Code (Cth) comes to the Northern Territory: why did the original Criminal Code (NT) last only 20 years?

Hemming, Andrew (2010) The Criminal Code (Cth) comes to the Northern Territory: why did the original Criminal Code (NT) last only 20 years? University of Western Australia Law Review, 35 (1). pp. 119-156. ISSN 0042-0328


This article seeks to answer the question why the most recently minted Criminal Code in Australia prior to the arrival of the Model Criminal Code was unceremoniously abandoned shortly after its 20th birthday. The question becomes more pertinent when it is understood that the drafter of the Criminal Code 1983 (NT) was seeking to modernise the Criminal Code 1899 (Qld) and avoid key problems that had emerged over the some 80 years since Sir Samuel Griffiths Code had been in existence. Was it a question of a bold experiment to address the critical issue of intoxication in the Northern Territory that overreached itself, or was the principal criminal responsibility section fundamentally flawed, as a former Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia suggested in describing the section as 'astonishing'? Did the long process of consultation prior to the Criminal Code 1983 (NT) being rolled out, which was designed to build consensus, in fact achieve the opposite? Were the robust interactions between the architect of the Code and the legal profession merely a precursor for the later sustained attacks upon the Code from judicial and academic quarters? Or, in the end, was it simply a political decision from an incoming Labor Government, which had never been in office since self-government in 1978, to jettison a controversial Code in favour of the progeny of the Model Criminal Code: namely, . Chapter 2 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth)? The conclusion reached in this article is that the decision to adopt Chapter 2 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth) was the correct one but that the drafter of the original Criminal Code 1983 (NT) was also prescient in his effort to turn away from the principal criminal responsibility section of the Criminal Code 1899 (Qld).

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Author verison not held.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Business - School of Law
Date Deposited: 18 Mar 2011 06:01
Last Modified: 26 Sep 2014 01:33
Uncontrolled Keywords: Northern Territory; definitions; intoxication; Griffith Code
Fields of Research : 16 Studies in Human Society > 1605 Policy and Administration > 160510 Public Policy
18 Law and Legal Studies > 1801 Law > 180110 Criminal Law and Procedure
17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1701 Psychology > 170113 Social and Community Psychology
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 94 Law, Politics and Community Services > 9404 Justice and the Law > 940407 Legislation, Civil and Criminal Codes

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