DownUnderAllOver

DownUnderAllOver

Developments around the country

DownUnderAllOver is a round-up of legal news from both State and federal jurisdictions, and contains topical articles and short pieces from Alternative Law Journal committees around the country.

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Anti-Protest Legislation

The Tasmanian Committee
Tasmania

The Workplace (Protection from Protesters) Bill 2014, passed earlier this year by Tasmania’s Lower House (the House of Assembly), raised significant community concern with its broad scope and mandatory sentencing, including three months in jail for a second offence for protesting or inciting others to protest that resulted in workplace disruption.

An urgent appeal prepared by Community Legal Centres Tasmania to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights resulted in three UN Special Rapporteurs calling on the Tasmanian government to rescind its Bill saying the passing of the legislation could silence legitimate and lawful protests.

(2014) 39(4) AltLJ 276

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Integrity Commission

The Tasmanian Committee
Tasmania

In other news, Tasmania’s Integrity Commission, which had been set up to investigate allegations of corruption and misconduct by public officers is under review with a parliamentary Inquiry hearing from the government that its investigative and law enforcement functions should be removed. The government submission argued that a number of other agencies were capable of carrying out the Commission’s investigations, including the Ombudsman and the police. In response, the Integrity Commission strongly rejected the government’s view, claiming that the government wanted to shut it down with Diane Merryfull, the Chief Executive of the Integrity Commission, noting that ‘as soon as an integrity commission starts to get some runs on the board ... the response is to shut it down’. The inquiry continues.

(2014) 39(4) AltLJ 276

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Teenage sexting legalised, revenge porn criminalised

Robert Corr
Victoria

With provisions of the Crimes Amendment (Sexual Offences and Other Matters) Act 2014 (Vic) that took effect on 3 November 2014, the Victorian Parliament has attempted to bring the law into alignment with changing community standards around sexting and intimate selfies.

Victoria’s child pornography laws were created at a time when the technology required to produce such images was expensive and typically required film to be developed. In the era of cheap digital cameras and smartphones, an anomaly in the law was exposed: two sixteen-year-olds who had sex commit no offence, but if they took a nude photograph they were treated as dangerous sex offenders.

 

(2014) 39(4) AltLJ 277

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Deaths in Custody

Steven Castan
Western Australia

In a tragic follow up to issue 39(3) of WA DUAO, another Aboriginal death in custody in Western Australian Prisons has brought this issue to the fore. This is the second death in custody in three months and has triggered public outcry and rallies in Perth, South Hedland and Geraldton protesting what advocates say is a lack of action when it comes to protection of Aboriginal prisoners. Marc Newhouse, of the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee was quoted as saying ‘there is something terribly wrong with our system, particularly in relation to prisons, but also in police custody.’ The most recent case relates to a 31-year-old Aboriginal prisoner in custody who was found unresponsive in his cell during a routine check at Casuarina Prison. The WA Department of Corrective services have said that they regret the tragic loss and that a coronial inquest would be held to determine the circumstances and cause of death.

(2014) 39(4) AltLJ 277

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Neglect, abuse and detention at sea

Tania Penovic
Federal

Children in immigration detention

The Australian Human Rights Commission has conducted a series of public hearings as part of its inquiry into children in closed immigration detention. For those who recall the Commission’s report on the same topic, published 10 years ago, it may be surprising how little has changed. That report found the immigration detention regime as then applied to children was fundamentally inconsistent with human rights, and that long term detention placed children at high risk of serious mental harm. The environment of closed detention was revealed to be one in which self-harm was so prevalent that children could not avoid witnessing such acts, and children as young as 14 were engaging in self-harm and hunger strikes. Upon tabling its report, the Commission called for an end to the immigration detention of children and weeks later, the Howard government announced that it would release all children and their families from closed facilities.

(2014) 39(3) AltLJ 194

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