: DUAO - Vol 36(3)

DUAO - 2011 - Vol 36(3)

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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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NGO report on Australia’s compliance with International Convention on the Rights of the Child

Ben Schokman
Human Rights

A coalition of Australian non-government organisations has published a comprehensive report on Australia’s compliance with its legal obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Listen to Children report was endorsed in whole or in part by 84 organisations and was formally launched on 6 July 2011 in Canberra.

Australia is due to be reviewed by the Committee on the Rights of the Child in January/February 2012 and a delegation of non-government representatives will travel to Geneva in October 2011 to brief the Committee at its pre-sessional meeting. Further information about the report and Australia’s review by the Committee is available at http://www.childrights.org.au.

(2011) 36(3) AltLJ 203

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Australia’s first age discrimination commissioner appointed

Philip Lynch
Human Rights

The Australian government has appointed the Hon Susan Ryan AO as Australia’s first ever full-time Age Discrimination Commissioner. ‘In her new position of Age Discrimination Commissioner, Ms Ryan will be a dedicated advocate of not only older Australians, but also young people who might be affected by age discrimination,’ Attorney-General Robert McClelland said.

Ms Ryan has significant experience addressing discrimination and advocating for older people as well as practical work implementing anti-discrimination policy. While serving in the Senate, Ms Ryan was critical to the development of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 and legislation surrounding equal opportunity. More recently, she has served as Chair of the Australian Human Rights Group and played a crucial leadership role in the campaign for a national Human Rights Act.

(2011) 36(3) AltLJ 203

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Making litigants more agreeable?

Tania Sourdin
Federal

The new Commonwealth Civil Dispute Resolution Act (2011) came into effect on 1 August 2011 and is designed to foster earlier dispute resolution in disputes that might otherwise be commenced in the Federal Court or the Federal Magistrates Court. The legislation requires would be litigants to file a ‘genuine steps statement’ setting out what attempts have been made to resolve the dispute before commencing legal proceedings. Courts can consider whether or not a litigant has taken genuine steps and can make additional orders and exercise discretion in relation to costs.

(2011) 36(3) AltLJ 203

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FOI documents shed light 
on the ADF detention practices

Gemma Namey
Federal

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (‘PIAC’) has obtained a number of previously classified and confidential documents about Australia’s detention practices in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The documents reveal that the Australian government sought to deliberately avoid its international legal obligations in relation to detainees caught by the ADF in Afghanistan and Iraq. The official Australian Government position was that such captives were entitled to the full protection of international law and prisoner of war status under the Geneva Conventions. This position was at odds with that of the US Government, which believed that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to all captives. This differing position meant that if the ADF transferred captives to US custody, Australia would be breaching the Geneva Conventions.

(2011) 36(3) AltLJ 204

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Counter-Terrorism Legislation: Reform without substance or direction

Mark Rix
Federal

Since September 11 2001, Australia has enacted a vast quantity of counter-terrorism legislation. During the Howard government’s time in office (1996 to 2007) there was a virtual avalanche of counter-terror bills that were introduced, totalling 44 separate pieces of legislation. Professor George Williams has aptly described this as a ‘frenzy of lawmaking.’ The legislation contains many harsh provisions including removal of the right to remain silent, detention without trial extending to detention of non-suspects merely for intelligence-gathering purposes, and infringements on media freedom and freedom of expression generally.

(2011) 36(3) AltLJ 204

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