The aim of this article is to outline the nature and scope of the principle of legality in contemporary Australian law. The analysis undertaken demonstrates that the principle has hardened into a particularly strong clear statement rule that is applied when legislation engages fundamental common law rights and freedoms. If parliament wishes to limit or abrogate a common law right or freedom in its legislation then it must express that intention with unmistakable clarity. That is the requirement — and strength — of the principle of legality. But there are methodological issues that must be addressed if the principle is to develop in a manner that is institutionally appropriate and constitutionally prudent.
Director: Steven Soderbergh; starring: Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum and Catherine Zeta-Jones; Roadshow, 2013, 106 mins, available on DVD, $39.99
Side Effects, it initially seems, is a movie about the immorality of the pharmaceutical industry and those complicit in its excesses and evils.
Emily (Rooney Mara) has enjoyed the good life her investment banker husband Martin (Channing Tatum) was able to provide for her until he was arrested and sentenced to jail for insider trading. The film starts with his release and the young couple are looking forward to a new start in life. Then Emily deliberately crashes her car into a brick wall. Taken to hospital, she is assessed by psychiatrist Dr Jon Banks (Jude Law) who suspects Emily attempted suicide. He is persuaded not to treat her as an inpatient and instead prescribes an unnamed SSRI (Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitor) to help with her depression. Martin, asking what the medication does, is told that ‘it helps stop the brain from telling you you’re sad’. This commonly-used explanation is much nicer than the reality: that we don’t really know how SSRIs work for depression, or whether they’re effective at all.
Edited by Julianne Schultz; April 2013; paperback; $27.95
Griffith Review is increasingly known as an Australian literary journal that punches above its weight. Under the editorial guidance of founding editor Julianne Schultz, the Review offers an engaging mix of essays, memoir, reportage, short fiction and poetry on contemporary issues of concern and interest. Phillip Adams has said that the Review is ‘pretty much setting the agenda’, and The Weekend Australian claims it to be ‘essential reading’.
In 2004, momentum for marriage equality at the federal level stalled when the definition of ‘marriage’ as ‘between a man and a woman’ was inserted into the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) (the ‘Commonwealth Act’). Since then, lobby groups have placed increasing pressure on the states and territories to facilitate same-sex marriage. On 22 October this year, almost a decade later, the ACT was the first Australian jurisdiction to legislate for same-sex marriage when it passed the Marriage Equality (Same-Sex) Act 2013 (ACT) (‘MEA’). Although the constitutional questions have dominated public discussion, the features of the MEA itself are worth examination.
In October 2013, the HCA dismissed the appeal in the case of Magaming v The Queen  HCA 40, holding that the discretion to charge alleged people smugglers with an aggravated offence, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence, is not an unconstitutional exercise of judicial power by criminal prosecutors.
Walking up Pireos Street towards Omonia Square in central Athens on a brisk autumn morning, I heard a very loud screeching. It was far off and I couldn’t tell the origin — human or technological. Hurrying along, with the noise still sounding, I began to recognise it as human. About 75 metres up the street, I stopped. Across the street was the source of the screams. At first all I could see was a platoon of black-garbed, helmeted and masked Special Ops police. One was busily twisting the arm of a male migrant, forcefully bent over the back of a car with his arm behind him. His arm was at an acute angle being twisted roughly every few seconds. The screams were, to say the least, loud and of course upsetting to the bystanders who kept their distance, as did I. But I had the presence of mind to whip out my little Olympus (no pun intended) and take some pictures, desperately trying to get clear images of the twisting officer, the arm and the victim. As the police were milling about, it took me four attempts to get what I wanted.
Concerns have been expressed about the implications of a Bill introduced in the New South Wales parliament that allows people to be charged with grievous bodily harm if they hurt an unborn baby. Known as Zoe’s Law, the Crimes Amendment (Zoe’s Law) Bill is said to be in response to the stillbirth of a foetus following a car accident. A coalition of women’s groups has warned that the Bill has significant and far-reaching consequences for women’s rights. Women’s Health NSW, Family Planning NSW and the Women’s Electoral Lobby say the NSW government has ignored the issues raised by them.
The rule of law is often called upon, but less often understood. The High Court’s Chief Justice Gleeson said, in 2001, that ‘the rule of law is such a powerful rhetorical weapon, both in legal and political argument, that care is needed in its deployment.’ So what does it actually mean? The classic modern statement of the meaning of the rule of law was offered by the late Lord Bingham who said, in The Rule of Law (2011), ‘that all persons and authorities within the state, whether public or private, should be bound by and entitled to the benefit of laws publicly made, taking effect (generally) in the future and publicly administered in the courts.’ He went on to explain eight key principles, which included that the ‘the laws of the land should apply equally to all’, and that ‘the law must afford adequate protection of fundamental human rights’.
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Female Friends, Nicola Roxon & Kris Walker
Alternative Law Journal 19(3), June 1994
Advocacy before the Parole Board, Viginia Bell & Merrilyn Walton
Legal Service Bulletin, June 1984