DUAO - 2012 - Vol 37(2)
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.
Review of NSW victims compensation scheme
The NSW government has announced a review of the state’s victims compensation scheme. Price Waterhouse Coopers has been appointed to conduct the review. An Issues Paper was published in March and the final report is due to government in mid-2012.
Part of the rationale for the review is that the scheme is not financially sustainable in the longer term with the government looking for the delivery of ‘faster and more effective financial support for victims’.
Tasers, police tactical options and non-lethal force
‘The police killed our friend and someone needs to pay for what happened.’
Dan Silva, a friend of Roberto Laudisio Curti,
quoted in The Australian, 21 March 2012.
‘I think we need to have a far more rigorous review of the circumstances in which it’s legitimate for a police officer in any state to fire 50,000 volts at a citizen who has not been found guilty of anything. It cannot be the first response. It must at best be a final response brought in by a fly-in squad, not used by every general police officer.’
David Shoebridge, NSW Greens MLC,
on 7:30 Report, ABC TV, 19 March 2012.
Based on media reports of the incident, we know that 21 year-old Brazilian student Roberto Laudisio Curti died early on the morning of Sunday 18 March 2012 after police officers used both capsicum spray and multiple taser applications in an attempt to arrest him. Police were seeking to arrest Mr Laudisio Curti as a suspect in the reported theft of a packet of biscuits. About 30 minutes had elapsed between the theft and the attempted arrest, leading to doubts as to whether Mr Laudisio Curti was guilty, or just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Whatever the case, an apparently healthy young man died following an interaction with the NSW Police Force.
Acquisition of crime-used property in the Northern Territory
All jurisdictions have legislation which allows property in connection with criminal activity to be seized. In the Northern Territory, property is liable to be forfeited under the Criminal Property Forfeiture Act. One such ground for forfeiting property is if it is ‘crime-used’. Property is ‘crime-used’ if it is connected with the commission of an offence, is used to store property unlawfully acquired during the commission of an offence, or if an act or omission is done on the property in connection with the commission of an offence (s 11). The property is declared to be forfeited to ‘compensate the Territory community for the costs of deterring, detecting and dealing with the criminal activities’ (s 10).
Coal mine to go ahead
On 27 March 2012, the Queensland Land Court handed down its decision in Xstrata Coal Qld Pty Ltd v Friends of the Earth – Brisbane Co-Op Ltd  QLC 013 resulting in a win for Xstrata to undertake extensive coal mining operations in the Wandoan district in Queensland.