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From pen and paper to prime time

Issued: Wednesday, 18 June 2014
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Attorney General Brad Hazzard today announced new legislation to make it easier to film and broadcast judgments and sentences in major criminal trials in the Supreme Court.

“This is great news for the media and the community as it will provide greater access and understanding of the court process in NSW,” Mr Hazzard said.

“Traditionally courts have been the domain of notepads and pens, but the legislation introduced in the NSW Parliament today allows courtrooms to go prime time.”

The Courts Legislation Amendment (Broadcasting Judgments) Bill paves the way for cameras to be used in the Supreme and District Courts and the NSW Government is looking at including other courts. There will be no filming of Children’s Court matters.

The NSW Government has carried out extensive consultation with the judiciary and media stakeholders, including the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance and FreeTV Australia and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

The legislation creates a presumption in favour of allowing filming and broadcasting of final proceedings, such as verdicts and sentences in criminal cases and judgments in civil cases, with some exceptions.

Filming will not be allowed when:

  • it would reveal the identity of jurors, protected witnesses or victims;

  • proceedings contain significant material subject to suppression orders, or material which would prejudice other trials or police investigations, or reveal police methodology;

  • it would put the safety and security of someone at risk;

  • the Chief Judge of the District Court or the Chief Justice has directed that the proceedings not be broadcast because it would be detrimental to the orderly administration of the court

The NSW Government is also working towards limited web streaming for selected proceedings and implementing initiatives to educate schoolchildren and the wider community about courts and sentencing.

“By allowing television cameras greater access to courtrooms, the NSW Government is making courts even more open and accountable – a justice system in which the community can have confidence,” Mr Hazzard said.

Please note: the current process of allowing one pool camera to film proceedings will continue.