Parliament passes legislation dedicated to murder victim Anthea Bradshaw-Hall allowing police to investigate overseas killings

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Federal Parliament has passed legislation giving Australian police more power to investigate the killing of Australians overseas, in a bill dedicated to an Adelaide woman killed in Brunei in the 1990s.

It would allow police to pursue cases in which authorities in the country of the crime failed to properly investigate and allow the extradition to Australia of a suspect to enable prosecution.

Currently cases can only be prosecuted for events that took place after 2002.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon and Liberal MP Christopher Pyne were at the helm of steering the legislation through Parliament after working with the family of Anthea Bradshaw-Hall.

Mrs Bradshaw-Hall was strangled to death in Brunei in 1994, then stabbed after she died.

Her brother Craig Bradshaw said his family were thankful politicians from all parties were able to put aside their differences to support the legislation.

"This has been a long time coming, it won't bring Anthea back, but it will provide us a chance to have justice for her," Mr Bradshaw said.

"There is still a long way to go, and we don't have anything to show for it yet, but we're hoping this is the very first step that we may have justice for Anthea."

Christopher Pyne said the legislation would ensure there would be justice served if an Australia was harmed overseas.

But key safeguards had been put in place to ensure the rights of the accused were protected.

"The lowest penalty must be applied. The dual criminality provision means people can't be tried for the same crime twice, once overseas and once in Australia, and a prosecution can't be initiated without the written consent of the Attorney-General," Mr Pyne said.

"There are very serious measures in place to protect the rights of the accused, but this was an important change to the law

"So that not just the Bradshaw, but that all Australian families know that the force of Australian law can be brought to bear on the perpetrators of great crimes."

Brunei coroner returned open verdict in Bradshaw-Hall inquest

Senator Xenophon heralded the passage of the bill as a win for bipartisanship.

"Here is a case that demands justice, in a sense that there ought not to be this impediment to a prosecution being brought. It's been a long time coming, the family's been fighting for justice for over 20 years," Senator Xenophon said.

"It's a pretty emotional day for the Bradshaw family, I think it's an emotional day for both of us in that we've worked very hard with this wonderful family to bring this about."

In 1998, an inquest by a coroner in Brunei returned an open verdict.

The court findings were provided to the Australian High Commission and the victim's family.

SA Police reviewed the file provided by the Royal Brunei Police and sent a detective to Brunei for meetings.

It also arranged more forensic testing of evidence samples provided by Brunei authorities.

Forensic reports produced in 2006 and 2007 were forwarded to the Royal Brunei Police.

SA Police said the Brunei Attorney-General had consistently maintained a view there is no reasonable prospect of securing any conviction.

Both Mr Pyne and Senator Xenophon were quick to point out they did not want to comment on the chances of success or otherwise that SA Police would have, now the legislation had passed.

Mr Pyne said it would be a "double tragedy" if their comments derailed any prosecutions.

When the bill was introduced last month, he said authorities made it clear they believed there was a suspect in the case.