Alternative Law Journal:
an Australian, refereed law journal

Welcome to the Alternative Law Journal! Here you can sample our journal with free previews (under the ‘News & Views’ menu). To purchase the full journal — with our signature mix of legal news, opinions, articles, as well as regular columns, art and cartoons — please visit our subscription page.

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

40(1) Old Land, New Laws

  • Constructing sex, gender & equality
  • Interrogating education
  • Regulating crime

Free Content:

DownUnderAllOver

Law & Culture

Sit Down Girlie

The Last Word

Indigenous dispossession in the 21st century: The Northern Frontier

Kate Galloway
Article

land-rights-for-invaders-skneebone-smNorthern Australia, that 39 per cent of landmass north of the Tropic of Capricorn, remains at the frontier of colonial expansionism. The most recent policy contribution to this imperative is the report of the Joint Select Committee on Northern Australia, Pivot North (‘Report’).1 The Report is part of the latest process to develop a white paper aimed at defining policy for ‘realising the full economic potential of the north.’2 It follows decades of similar unfulfilled reports, but supports an invigorated government platform expressed in the Coalition’s 2030 Vision for Developing Northern Australia.3

A key element of economic potential lies in a legal framework that offers security for the investment required for fulfilment of the growth and development integral to economic measures. To this end the Report has identified the importance of land tenure in opening up economic development across northern Australia.4 And as Altman and Markham point out, the majority of this land is held under Indigenous5 tenures:

Lands of confirmed Indigenous land rights and native title legal interest total 48 per cent of the 3 million square kilometres of Northern Australia. This area could expand to nearly 76 per cent if native title was determined to exist for the spatial entirety of all currently registered claims.6

(2015) 40(1) AltLJ 28

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Sleepwalking to the privatisation of universities

Stephen Parker
Column

what-do-get-for-my-money-sk-smProposed higher education funding reforms are unfair to students and poorly designed policy. If they go through, Australia is sleepwalking towards the privatisation of its universities. And ironically they will be the death knell of our peak group, Universities Australia, which could not survive them for long. Let me explain.

These reforms are unfair to students. They have to lead to significant increases in student debt because this is part of the government’s case for them. Minister Pyne says the reforms are a way to bring fresh funding into universities, so he must assume that we will go further than just replace government cuts with higher tuition fees.

(2015) 40(1) AltLJ 2

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Girlie Down Under in 2015

Anna Bortion

Abbott’s Bad Habits

At the time of writing, Tony Abbott was Minister for Women, and to demonstrate his support for women he recently doubled the number of women in Cabinet — from one to two. Adele Ferguson, writing in The Age (22 January 2015), considers Abbott should have blackballed himself as Minister for Women and  that his ‘appointment of himself as the Minister for Women was always seen as a cynical PR stunt, designed to compensate for the many gaffes he has made about women over the years, including the gobsmacking comment in 2010’ that what ‘housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing is that if they get it done commercially it’s going to go up in price, and their own power bills when they switch the iron on are going to go up’. When asked about his biggest achievement as Minister for Women, Abbott replied it was in getting rid of the carbon tax because ‘as many of us know, women are particularly focused on the household budget’.

(2015) 40(1) AltLJ 60

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The end of uniform defamation laws?

The Tasmanian Committee
Tasmania

Tasmania could become the first state or territory in Australia to allow companies to sue for defamation with the state government intending to introduce legislation to protect business from ‘misleading and dishonest campaigns’. Under the proposed changes, which the government took to the 2014 election, Tasmania would move away from nationally uniform laws by allowing corporations with more than 10 employees to pursue an action in defamation against individuals and groups alleged to have spread false and misleading information. The proposal has been attacked by the Law Society of Tasmania, Civil Liberties Australia and the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance as likely to stifle free speech, have ramifications for social media users and risk Tasmania becoming the site of national lawsuits. A public consultation process is likely with the Attorney-General vowing to first take the proposal to the national Law, Crime and Community Safety Council in May 2015.

STOP PRESS In early February 2015, the Attorney-General Vanessa Goodwin announced that the proposed changes to defamation law will not proceed after discussions with Attorneys-General from other jurisdictions, and community concern.

(2015) 40(1) AltLJ 65

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Data retention inquiry

Katie Miller
Federal

Spare a thought for the contributors to the latest inquiry by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security. While most of us were at the beach this summer, lawyers, privacy advocates, the communications industry and individuals were preparing their submissions to the Committee’s inquiry into the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2014.

The Bill will require telecommunications and internet service providers to maintain for two years data about our telephone and internet communications. If these businesses do not keep that sort of data (because, for example, they have no business need for it), they will have to create it.

(2015) 40(1) AltLJ 60

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Earth Jurisprudence: Private Property and the Environment

Kate Galloway

Burdon-Earth-Jurisprudence-Private-Property-smPeter D Burdon; Routledge, 2015; 177 pages; $125 (hardback)

The Bolivian constitutional recognition of earth rights, the Whanganui River declaration in New Zealand and the recent court finding of some rights vesting in a captive Argentinian orang-utan, indicate that the law is slowly waking up to its exclusion of the natural world from the realm of rights. These examples are simply facets of a much broader ‘convergence of crises, all of which present a significant moral and survival challenge for the human species,’ requiring a re-imagining of the potential of the law. Peter Burdon’s book Earth Jurisprudence: Private Property and the Environment does just that, providing both a theoretical justification and a model for a holistic engagement between private property and the natural world.

(2015) 40(1) AltLJ 68

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THE CASE AGAINST 8

Samuel Blashki

the-case-against-8-smDirected by Ben Cotner and Ryan White; HBO, 2014; Distributed in Australia by Leapfrog Films — https://leapfrogfilms.com.au/movie/case-8/

The Case Against 8 documents the inspiring story of a lawsuit challenging Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment in California that had the effect of banning same-sex marriage in the state.

Spanning five years, the HBO documentary directed and produced by Ben Cotner and Ryan White follows the case from its inception to trial, through various appeals and ultimately, to a winning verdict in the US Supreme Court. It largely focuses on the four plaintiffs and their legal team, who ultimately succeed in legalising same-sex marriage in California.

(2015) 40(1) AltLJ 70

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