Alternative Law Journal:
an Australian, refereed law journal

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The AltLJ, focusing on

  •  social justice, human rights and law reform
  •  critique of the legal system
  •  developments in alternative practice
  •  community legal education

CURRENT ISSUE

41(1) Legal Directions

  • Political prespectives
  • Identity and evidence
  • Death rights

Free Content:

DownUnderAllOver

Law & Culture

Sit Down Girlie

The Last Word

Protests outside abortion clinics: Constitutionally protected speech?

Mitchell Landrigan
Article

This article reviews the constitutionality of recently enacted Victorian (and comparable Australian) ‘safe access zone legislation’ insofar as the laws prohibit protests about abortions near clinics.1 The safe access zone laws prohibit 
anti-abortion protestors from: harassing people entering or leaving abortion clinics; engaging in other anti-abortion protest activities (in the case of Victoria, where this is reasonably likely to cause distress or anxiety); and recording people entering or leaving abortion clinics. Similar safe access zone laws exist in Tasmania2 and comparable laws were recently passed in the Australian Capital Territory.3

This article focuses on whether, by banning anti-abortion protests in safe access zones, the legislation might infringe the implied freedom of political discourse (‘implied freedom’) under the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia (‘Constitution’). It focuses on the Victorian safe access zone laws while also, by comparison, considering the constitutionality of the bans on protests under the Tasmanian and ACT safe access zone arrangements.

(2016) 41(1) AltLJ 8

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Girlie Goes Global

Glow Belle and Polly See

Men in Blue Ties Get Stuffed

It’s not common to find positive articles promoting gender equality in the sporting pages of Victoria’s Herald Sun however Peter Rolfe does so under the headline, ‘Inspirational women urge men to bridge the gap’ (Herald Sun, 29 January 2016). Rolfe reports on a coalition of leading women from sport and business encouraging equality, including 2015 Melbourne Cup winner Michelle Payne, Elizabeth Broderick and Moira Kelly. Speaking at the inaugural Australian Open ‘Celebration of Inspirational Women’ they predicted an acceleration of gender equality and diversity in Australian sport, politics and business this year. They also urged men to work to kick these goals. Bring it on! The event, covered on YouTube — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1N4LU4ZX8kY, shows Felicity Harley citing a report that found ‘horses get more coverage than sportswomen in Australia’!

(2016) 41(1) AltLJ 64

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Closing the Gap?

Stephen Gray
Federal

On 10 February, Prime Minister Turnbull released the 2016 Closing the Gap report.  He spoke of being ‘heartened’ at the ‘positive gains’ this year, while acknowledging that there had been ‘mixed results’.The ‘positive gains’ seemed a bit like cherry-picking from last year’s tree.  It is good that the Indigenous infant mortality rate is declining, although this was also evident in 2015.  While Indigenous mortality rates generally are also declining, the figure is difficult to interpret as ‘closing the gap’, since there are no new figures on life expectancy.  The PM pointed to ‘almost no employment gap’ between Indigenous and non-Indigenous university graduates.  Again, this obscures the main issue, which is that there is no ‘closing the gap’ in employment rates between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

(2016) 41(1) AltLJ 65

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Safety in family law

Janet Loughman
Federal

In each Australian state and territory, there are legal protections in many civil and criminal proceedings to prevent self-represented litigants cross-examining former partners where there is a history of violence, including sexual violence. These protections recognise the traumatic impact of cross-examination of vulnerable witnesses by perpetrators of violence.

There are no equivalent provisions in the family law jurisdiction. The Family Law Act contains no protection against direct cross examination by perpetrators or any specific protections for vulnerability in general, for example for witnesses with disability.

(2016) 41(1) AltLJ 65

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SA Law Reform Institute recommends abolition of religious oaths

Kellie Toole
South Australia

The South Australian Law Reform Institute (‘SALRI’) has recommended that South Australia become the first jurisdiction in the nation to replace the existing religious oath and secular affirmation with a simple witness promise to tell the truth while giving evidence in court.

SALRI undertook consultations and received submissions from multicultural groups, judicial officers, religious leaders, lawyers, and members of the community. Some groups and individuals favoured retaining the religious oath, while others welcomed its replacement by a non-religious promise that recognised the separation of church and state.

(2016) 41(1) AltLJ 69

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All Fall Down

Kate Galloway

All-Fall-Down-150Matthew Condon; Penguin Books, 2015; 
584 pages; $32.95 (paperback)

A professor hailing from the UK who had made Queensland his home told me some years ago that Queensland was too small a talent pool to govern progressively. His argument was that in this state, we draw our politicians, professionals (including the legal profession), industry leaders, and so on all from a small number of schools and universities. He suggested that this inevitably generated an inward-looking elite, and in the absence of stringent frameworks of governance, could easily result in corruption but would also tend to be self-serving.

I was reminded of these observations while reading Matthew Condon’s masterful final book in a trilogy charting the years of endemic corruption in Queensland’s police force and its circles of power. Following the previous instalments covering earlier decades, All Fall Down deals mainly with the 1980s. These years coincided with my last years at school, my years at uni and early years of legal practice. What struck me was not just that I recognised the leading news stories of the day, but the extent to which the events Condon meticulously chronicles were interwoven with my own life. I wasn’t ever inside the circles of corruption he describes, but I lived in these streets, I partied at these clubs, and I knew many of these people. That’s the way Brisbane was. As my colleague had pointed out, it is a small pool.

(2016) 41(1) AltLJ 73

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Beyond The North-South Culture Wars

Kate Galloway

beyond-the-north-south-culture-wars-150Allan Dale; Springer, 2014; 148 pages; $74.30 (paperback)

In mid-2015, the Australian government released the 
long-awaited white paper on Developing Northern Australia. That this policy is considered important is perhaps illustrated by the appointment by the Turnbull government of a Minister for Northern Australia. As a policy area however, it is possible that those south of the Tropic of Capricorn are somewhat mystified by its importance, or even the issues at stake. Allan Dale’s very readable book provides an excellent primer for northerners and southerners alike, seeking to understand the potential of the north in environmental, cultural and economic terms.

(2016) 41(1) AltLJ 73

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