: Alternative Law Journal - An Australian referreed law journal

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

The back catalogue (to 2000) is also available, free, for a limited time on our new Sage website.

News & Views

Review of NSW youth justice legislation

Greg Martin
New South Wales

The NSW government has released information about its review of the Young Offenders Act 1997 (NSW) and the Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act 1987 (NSW), which aims to ensure these pieces of youth justice legislation continue to reflect best practice and meet the needs of young people and the community, including victims. A consultation paper for the review can be downloaded from: http://www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/clrd.

(2011) 36(4) AltLJ 283

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NSW Graffiti Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 stalled

Rebecca Scott Bray
New South Wales

The Graffiti Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 was introduced in the NSW parliament in June 2011. It seeks to amend the Children (Community Service Orders) Act 1987 (NSW) and the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW) which would have the effect of requiring a court to impose a graffiti removal condition as part of a community service order on offenders found guilty of graffiti offences (unless not reasonably practicable). It also seeks to amend the Graffiti Control Act 2008 (NSW) to enable a court to make certain orders with respect to the driver licence of a person who has committed graffiti offences, including possession of a graffiti implement. Such orders include extending the minimum period that person must hold a learner or provisional licence for up to six months, suspending a person’s driver licence for up to six months, or imposing a graffiti licence order which would limit the number of demerit points that can be accrued by a person subject to an order.

(2011) 36(4) AltLJ 283

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Home Building legislation reforms

Rebecca Scott Bray
New South Wales

On 19 October 2011 the NSW Parliament passed the Home Building Amendment Bill 2011 which included a suite of reforms to the Home Building Act 1989 (NSW), namely changes to home warranty insurance, statutory warranty and contract requirements. Changes from 25 October 2011 include a requirement to notify home warranty insurers about making a claim in writing (for a certificate of home warranty insurance dated after 30 June 2002); changes to time limits on home warranty insurance claims; and from 1 February 2012, changes to statutory warranty periods to 6 years for structural defects and 2 years for non-structural defects (with the possibility of a 6-month extension), and a new ‘small jobs’ contracts category for jobs worth between $1001 and $5000, among other amendments. For further information on the reforms see 
http://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au.

(2011) 36(4) AltLJ 283

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Prising open the gates? Land access in 2011 
and beyond

Jonathan Fulcher and Emily McCartney
Queensland

Until 1910, Queensland landholders held the rights to minerals, except gold and silver, which the common law recognised as part of the Crown’s prerogative. From 1910, all private land and most leasehold were granted with reservations of all minerals in favour of the Crown. Landholders were then reduced to being paid compensation for impact on the land by mining, and were not entitled to royalties.

(2011) 36(4) AltLJ 284

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Discreditable Conduct

David Caruso and Kellie Toole
South Australia

The Evidence (Discreditable Conduct) Amendment Act 2011 (SA) was assented to on 22 September 2011 and is awaiting proclamation. When in force, it will amend the Evidence Act 1929 (SA) and the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA) in relation to admission of evidence of previous discreditable conduct (generally prior convictions and uncharged acts) against criminal defendants.

(2011) 36(4) AltLJ 284

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Tasmanian round up

Noelle Rattray
Tasmania

In a first case of its kind in Tasmania, a man has been sentenced to five months in jail for putting another person at risk of contracting HIV. He is subject to a Public Health Order, requiring him not to participate in any activity that might transmit the disease. He breached the Order in August this year when he had unprotected sex with another person before revealing his condition. Sentenced in the Magistrates Court in Launceston, the case is believed to be the first time someone has been charged and convicted for the offence in Tasmania.

(2011) 36(4) AltLJ 285

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High Court affirms importance and validity of Victorian Charter

Philip Lynch
Victoria

In a landmark decision, the High Court of Australia has upheld the validity, operation and importance of Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights.

In the case of Momcilovic v The Queen & Ors [2011] HCA 34 (8 September 2011), the High Court held that the Charter protects fundamental human rights and maintains parliamentary sovereignty.

(2011) 36(4) AltLJ 285

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Banning the bong

Steven Castan
Victoria

As of 1 January 2012, a new law relating to the display, sale and supply of bongs and hookahs shall come into force in Victoria which heralds substantial changes to the previous law.

The Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 will be amended by the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Amendment (Prohibition of Display and Sale of Cannabis Water Pipes) Act 2011.

(2011) 36(4) AltLJ 285

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Personal Safety Intervention Orders

Alexandra Lane
Victoria

The Personal Safety Intervention Orders Act 2010 (Vic) came into operation on 5 September 2011 and seeks to conform to its regime counterpart, the Family Violence Protection Act 2008. The distinction between the two rests with the personal safety Act focussing on the antisocial behaviours of non-family members. The new Act was introduced to rectify the problems arising from its predecessor, the now repealed Stalking Intervention Orders Act 2008. On application, a broader spectrum of behaviours were liable to have actions brought against them than was originally intended. Thus under the earlier scheme, minor disputes escalated rapidly and saturated the judiciary. Through reforming the legislation governing this area, the Victorian Parliament intends to distinguish between minor disputes and those requiring court facilitated resolutions, by emphasising the beneficial nature of informal mediation programs. Through these, trifling claims may be dealt with swiftly in arenas that facilitate communication and ideally provide for mutually acceptable resolutions. In contrast, the Act will provide heightened protection for those at risk of harm. This will be achieved via the provision of Personal Safety Intervention Orders and the codification of a breach of such an order as an offence. Therefore the introduction of the Act will provide fair, just and equitable outcomes for those requiring assistance while prompting individuals to resolve their own disputes prior to seeking formalised assistance.

(2011) 36(4) AltLJ 286

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Reform to Residential Tenancy Databases 
in Victoria

Catherine Miller
Victoria

The Residential Tenancy Amendment Act 2010 (Vic) came into effect on 1 September 2011. One significant aspect of the amendments is the regulation of residential tenancy databases. These databases are run by private companies to store information regarding tenants’ rental history. Access to information is available to subscribers, who are usually real estate agents. Agents commonly check a database for records relating to applicants for rental properties. When applying for a rental property, prospective tenants are often asked to consent to the agent providing personal information to a database operator. Examples of tenant database companies are the Tenant Information Centre of Australia and National Tenancy Database.

(2011) 36(4) AltLJ 286

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