The right to silence 2012



The NSW Attorney General announced on 14 August 2012 a proposal to abolish the right to silence. An exposure draft of the Bill was released in September 2012. NSW would be the first jurisdiction in Australia to make this change.

An individual’s right to silence under interrogation from police has been a fundamental civil and human right recognised in our legal system since at least the 1700s and firmly accepted as part of Australian law since at least 1824. It is a right fought for and attained in reaction to Star Chamber trials, witch-hunts and other inquisitorial processes. It is an important aspect of the right not to incriminate yourself. This right is only meaningful if exercising it cannot be used against you. That is, if it cannot be said against you at any criminal trial that you must have had something to hide or your defence should not be believed because you did not explain yourself to police when arrested and questioned (cfPetty v. The Queen [1991] HCA 34; (1991) 173 CLR 95).

That the NSW Council for Civil Liberties opposes the changes to the law contained in the proposal draft Evidence Amendment (Evidence of Silence) Bill 2012, which will allow evidence of an accused declining to answer questions by the police or at trial to be taken into account by a jury.

Moved Martin Bibby/Jackson Rogers: The resolution be accepted: Carried