2011 - Vol 36(3) - Mapping the Legal Landscape


Social media@law

Refocussing on refugees

Constructing crime

Elections 2.0: Reflections on the 2010 federal election 
and the future of Australian electoral law

Peter Black

The federal election in August 2010 was distinctive for several reasons: following bitter internal spills two relatively inexperienced leaders led the two major parties into the election; the Greens emerged as a major political force on the national stage; and the cliffhanger on election night resulted in the first hung Parliament since 1940. Following Rob Oakeshott’s interminable 17 minute speech, Julia Gillard and the Labor Party were able to form government. It was also Australia’s first federal election that really did play out on the internet. Indeed, in some ways the commentary on blogs and social media like Facebook and Twitter became the Fifth Estate, in that it kept a critical eye on both the politicians as well as the establishment media of the Fourth Estate.

(2011) 36(3) AltLJ 149


Randoms vs Weirdos: Teen use of social networking sites 
and perceptions of legal risk

Melissa de Zwart, David Lindsay, Michael Henderson, Michael Phillips

Mainstream media regularly features reports focussing upon the risks associated with Facebook and other social networking sites (‘SNS’). For example, in December 2010, a 17-year-old girl posted photos of naked AFL footballers to her Facebook profile, generating a major scandal in the AFL community and further highlighting the privacy risks associated with social networking.1 In March 2011, a Facebook page purporting to be an open invitation to a party to be held by a schoolgirl in Chatswood, NSW, displaying her residential address, attracted 200 000 responses saying they would attend.2 The party was cancelled and police attended to ensure any potential revellers were sent home. Yet, despite the widespread coverage of SNS risks, usage figures continue to grow.

(2011) 36(3) AltLJ 153


It's but a flesh wound: Criminal Law and the conceptualisation 
of healthy limb amputation

Theodore Bennett

bennet-thumbIn the 1700s, it was reported that a patient approached a surgeon to request that he amputate the patient’s leg. Although physically healthy, the patient considered this limb to be an ‘invincible obstacle to [his] happiness’. The surgeon refused to operate.1 Although the intervening years have seen the Industrial Revolution, the rise of democracy in the west, multiple world wars and nothing short of the whole-scale radical redevelopment of medical practice, this report might well have been about a consultation that occurred yesterday. Under current medical practice, most ‘[s]urgeons are unwilling to accede to [such] requests for amputation’ (though apparently they may be being carried out in some ‘third world clinics’).2 Indeed, Robert Smith is the only Western surgeon reported to have carried out healthy limb amputations, performing two such procedures at a Scottish hospital before being shut down by the hospital’s trustees in 2000 amid widespread press furore.3

(2011) 36(3) AltLJ 158


Swear like a Victorian: Victoria’s swearing laws and similar provisions 
in NSW and Queensland

James Leaver

leaver-thumbPrior to the commencement of the Justice Legislation Amendment (Infringement Offences) Act 2011 (Vic), my twitter and news feeds were full of complaints about Victoria’s so-called ‘new’ swearing laws. There is actually nothing new about Victoria’s swearing laws. The Act simply made permanent the power of police officers to issue infringement notices to suspected swearers. Lost to the hype was a proper dialogue about the actual effect of the Act. This article discusses the operation and enforcement of offensive language laws in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland;1 it is hoped it will contribute to a meaningful dialogue about them.

(2011) 36(3) AltLJ 163


When justice harms: Juvenile justice in Papua New Guinea

Mark Evenhuis

An ongoing human rights crisis persists in Papua New Guinea (‘PNG’) — too many young people, finding themselves on the wrong side of the law, are being harmed by the criminal justice system. These young people aged seven to 18, or ‘juveniles’ as they are referred to in PNG,1 are regularly physically and sexually assaulted by the police and Correctional Institutional Services (‘CIS’) officers, deprived of their liberty without good cause, and forced to serve custodial sentences in abject conditions while sharing cells with adults.2

How best to respond to juvenile offenders is a pressing concern for PNG as it is a predominantly young country — nearly half of the population are children3 — with increasing problems of urban violence, crime and civil unrest. Within both PNG and international media, blame for escalating law and order problems is generally attributed to ‘raskols’ — groups of ‘disaffected urban youth between the ages of 16 and 24’.4 Yet the reality is that ‘the vast majority of youth crimes are minor, property related offences’.5 However, even when accused of such minor offences, juveniles are often dealt with harshly by the police, courts and CIS because of the popular misconception ‘that all young people in conflict with the law are “raskols” preying on the community.’6

(2011) 36(3) AltLJ 166


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