: DUAO - Vol 36(4)

DUAO - 2011 - Vol 36(4)

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Developments around the country

DownUnderAllOver is a round-up of legal news from both State and federal jurisdictions, and contains topical articles and short pieces from Alternative Law Journal committees around the country.

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VCAT and the Victorian Charter

Eleanore Fritze
Victoria

On 6 September 2011, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal handed down its decision in Director of Housing v Sudi [2011] VSCA 266. It decided that VCAT, in an application for a possession order under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic), did not have the power to consider whether, by making the application for the possession order, the Director of Housing had complied with s 38(1) of the Charter. Section 38(1) states it is unlawful for a public authority to act in a way that is incompatible with, or fail to give proper consideration to, a relevant human right.

(2011) 36(4) AltLJ 286

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Victoria — first in the democratic world to wind back human rights protections?

Philip Lynch
Victoria

Victoria will become the first state in the developed, democratic world to substantially weaken the legal protection of human rights if the recommendations of a parliamentary committee on the future of the Victorian Charter of Human Rights are accepted.

The Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee has tabled its review of the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities. While the Committee recommends against repeal of the Charter, it does recommend that courts have no role or a substantially reduced role in enforcing human rights and providing remedies when they are breached. It also recommends that government departments and public services have no or reduced obligations to act compatibly with rights.

(2011) 36(4) AltLJ 287

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New protection for journalists in WA extends to whistleblowers

Michael Workman
Western Australia

On 20 October 2011 the WA parliament introduced the Evidence and Public Interest Disclosure Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 (WA) to amend the Evidence Act 1906 (WA) and the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2003 (WA) with the purpose of granting so-called ‘shield laws’ for journalists and public sector whistleblowers. It follows the enactment of similar Commonwealth legislation, the Evidence Amendment (Journalists’ Privilege) Act 2011 (Cth).

(2011) 36(4) AltLJ 287

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Gender characteristics: a matter of appeal

Luke Illiers
Western Australia

In October, the High Court unanimously allowed the appeal brought by two female-to-male transsexuals in AB v State of Western Australia [2011] HCA 42. In so doing, the Court overturned a decision of the Court of Appeal of Western Australia to the effect that the Gender Reassignment Board was correct in finding that the applicants did not have sufficient male gender characteristics to meet the requirements of a recognition certificate under the Gender Reassignment Act 2000 (WA).

(2011) 36(4) AltLJ 287

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