• Northern Territory Attorney-General John Elferink (far right) sits next to NT Chief Minister Terry Mills (centre) in parliament in Darwin (AAP) ((Image: Supplied))Source: (Image: Supplied)
Lawyers for the Northern Territory Government have told Australia's highest court that its controversial paperless arrest laws do not undermine the power of the courts.
By
Myles Morgan

Source:
NITV News
2 Sep 2015 - 4:41 PM  UPDATED 2 Sep 2015 - 5:33 PM

TRANSCRIPTS

Natalie Ahmat: Good evening. Lawyers for the Northern Territory Government have told Australia's highest court that its controversial paperless arrest laws do not undermine the power of the courts.

Lawyers for a number of state governments defended the Territory laws in Canberra today, saying they were legal and Constitutional.

Myles Morgan has more.

Myles Morgan: There were complex legal arguments during the second day of hearings in the challenge to the paperless arrest laws.

The North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency, as well as several Indigenous people who've been imprisoned under the new laws, are claiming they are fundamentally unfair and legally invalid.

The paperless arrest laws give NT police the power to detain a person for up to four hours for minor offences - offences which usually wouldn't result in jail time anyway.

"Nothing in the legislation, in any way, says that this should target Aboriginal people. What it targets is those people that cause problems in our community"

People can be detained for longer than four hours if the police believe they're drunk - that's what happened with two of the plaintiffs in the case.

The High Court was told by NAAJA and human rights lawyers that this is too much power for the police to have because it basically removes the role and oversight of the Territory courts.

And of course, it's argued these laws are unfairly affecting Aboriginal people in the NT.

John Elferink, Northern Territory Attorney General: Nothing in the legislation, in any way, says that this should target Aboriginal people. What it targets is those people that cause problems in our community. 

Lawyers for the NT Government defended the laws. They told the High Court it doesn't "deprive the court of its essential functions" and the Territory courts can rule the police falsely imprisoned someone if there's enough proof after a paperless arrest.

This whole case is calling the Constitution into question, with critics saying the Northern Territory was never granted power to make laws like this.

The hearings continue.