DUAO - 2015 - Vol 40(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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600,000 disclosures of telecommunications data in one year

Leanne O'Donnell
Federal

It is annual report season. And each year, technology journalists await the release of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (‘ACMA’) annual report which includes details on the number of disclosures of telecommunications data.

The controversial data retention laws passed in March this year amended the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act (‘the TIA Act’). Under this Act, an authorised officer of an enforcement agency can authorise the disclosure of specified information or documents in relation to the:

  • enforcement of a criminal law (s 178);
  • enforcement of a law imposing a pecuniary penalty or protection of the public revenue (s 179).

Access to telecommunications data is not limited to cases involving a serious crime or contravention of the law.

(2015) 40(4) AltLJ 284

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OHS Harmonisation: the more things change, the more they stay the same

Eric Windholz
Federal

Recent amendments to Queensland’s occupational health and safety (‘OHS’) laws are yet another hesitant step in the faltering process towards OHS harmonisation.

1 January 2012 was the date by which all Australian jurisdictions agreed to introduce uniform OHS laws. This was to be achieved by each jurisdiction enacting identical model legislation. Four years after the January 2012 deadline, however, and the goal of uniformity remains as elusive as ever.

Two jurisdictions are yet to enact the harmonised OHS laws (Victoria and Western Australia) and, of those that have, a number introduced state-specific variations in response to local stakeholder demands. For example, the New South Wales parliament responded to the concerns of unions and others by including union right to prosecute provisions; the Australian Capital Territory responded to union concerns and retained its asbestos and hazardous chemicals regulations in preference to those contained in the model laws; the South Australian government responded to business concerns by ‘clarifying’ the primary duty of care, modifying union right of entry powers, and preserving a person’s right to silence and protection from self-incrimination.

 

(2015) 40(4) AltLJ 284

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NSW housing law reform

Thomas Mortimer
New South Wales

Spring has been a busy period in NSW housing law. Perhaps most prominent was the Residential Tenancies and Housing Legislation Amendment (Public Housing – Antisocial Behaviour) Bill 2015 (‘the Bill’). This was introduced into parliament without prior consultation, and was the subject of concerted efforts from community organisations and legal bodies to have it withdrawn or substantially modified.

The Bill was assented to on 22 October, with some amendments, and is expected to commence in early 2016.

Its wide-ranging provisions will diminish the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal’s (‘NCAT’) decision-making capacity, and profoundly impact the lives of many social housing tenants. Most notably, the Bill will require the Tribunal to terminate a social housing tenancy in most instances where it finds the residence has been used for an illegal purpose. At present, NCAT may consider all circumstances in this deliberation.

 

(2015) 40(4) AltLJ 285

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Daniel’s Law

Sue Erickson
Northern Territory

The Sex Offender and Child Homicide Offender Public Website (Daniel’s Law) Bill was introduced in NT Parliament on 15 September 2015 and is due for debate in the November sittings of the Legislative Assembly, which begin on 17 November. Daniel’s Law provides for the publication of certain offenders’ personal details on a website that will be accessible by the public. The offender’s name, date of birth, details of the offence, photograph and location will be published on the website. A panel comprising the Commissioner of Police, the Commissioner of Correctional Services and the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of the Attorney-General and Justice will decide whether to publish the details of a certain offender. The panel’s decision is subject to a review process.

The Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, John Elferink, announced the legislation in October 2014 with Bruce and Denise Morcombe, explaining that the Act would be named ‘Daniel’s Law’ after the Morcombe’s son Daniel, who went missing on the Sunshine Coast in 2003 and was later found to have been murdered by a convicted sex offender who was on parole.

 

(2015) 40(4) AltLJ 286

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Reform of laws that discriminate...

Kellie Toole
South Australia

... on the grounds of Sexual Orientation, Gender, Gender Identity and Intersex Status

In January 2015, the Attorney General invited the South Australian Law Reform Institute (‘SALRI’) to accept a reference to inquire into and report on South Australian laws that discriminate against individuals and families from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex and Queer (‘LGBTIQ’) communities.

The Governor, His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le AO, spoke at the opening of parliament in February 2015 on the need for the reference because ‘some individuals and families are not able to participate fully in our democracy because of who they are, whether it be lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. The strength of our society will be shaped by the extent to which we can guarantee access to these pillars of our democracy, education, health and justice, to all South Australians.’

(2015) 40(4) AltLJ 286

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