: DUAO - Vol 37(2)

DUAO - 2012 - Vol 37(2)

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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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A welcome inconsistency

Mark J Rankin
South Australia

The SA Parliament recently passed the Arkaroola Protection Act 2012 (SA), establishing the Arkaroola Protection Area. Approximately 600 sq km in size, the Protection Area region lies approximately 700 km north of Adelaide. The objects of the Arkaroola Protection Act 2012 (SA) are:

  • to provide for the conservation of nature in the Arkaroola Protection Area;
  • to support the conservation of objects, places or features of cultural or spiritual value to the Adnyamathanha people within the Arkaroola Protection Area;
  • to support scientific research and environmental monitoring in the Arkaroola Protection Area;
  • to foster public appreciation, understanding and enjoyment of nature and objects, places or features of cultural value in the Arkaroola Protection Area; and
  • to ensure that the development and management of the Arkaroola Protection Area is completed consistently with the preceding objects.
(2012) 37(2) AltLJ 137

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Minimum standards for residential properties

Benedict Bartl
Tasmania

Following a Review of the Residential Tenancy Act 1998, the Minister for Consumer Protection, Nick McKim, has confirmed that Tasmania will become the first state or territory in Australia to introduce minimum standards into residential properties. Whilst further work is required on the actual detail of the proposed minimum standards, there has been broad support from all the relevant stakeholders, including public housing providers, the Tenants’ Union of Tasmania and landlords. In future all residential premises must guarantee hot and cold running water, toilet facilities, a bath or shower, and cooking facilities. Additionally, all landlords will need to ensure that premises contain adequate heating in the main living area as well as being free from roof leakages, free of substantial drafts and adequately ventilated. The Bill is likely to be introduced later this year and will hopefully act as a model from which other states and territories soon follow.

(2012) 37(2) AltLJ 138

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Sexual Offences and Evidence Law

Benedict Bartl
Tasmania

In other law reform news, the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute (TLRI) has released its final report Tendency and coincidence evidence and Hoch’s case. The report calls for reforms to the admissibility of tendency and coincidence evidence. That is, evidence which goes to a pattern of behaviour or the character of the accused. Currently, the wording of Tasmania’s evidence laws means that separate allegations made by separate complainants will often be heard at separate trials, leading to reduced chance of conviction according to Terese Henning, co-author of the Report and university academic. If the TLRIs suggested amendments are adopted it will see more sexual assault cases able to hear related complaints at the same trial as well as allowing the jury to ultimately determine if the stories were concocted by the complainants or actually took place. With the introduction of uniform evidence law in a number of Australian jurisdictions, the Attorney-General Brian Wightman has passed on copies of the report to other Attorneys-General with discussion to follow at the April meeting of the Standing Council of Law and Justice.

(2012) 37(2) AltLJ 138

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Practicing certificate changes to increase pro bono

James Farrell
Victoria

The Victorian government has introduced legislation that will allow more Victorian legal practitioners to assist the community through pro bono legal advice and assistance.

(2012) 37(2) AltLJ 138

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Coronial law reform: Watch this space

Tatum Hands
Western Australia

The Law Reform Commission of Western Australia (‘the Commission’) has recently released its review of Western Australia’s coronial system and has made a total of 113 recommendations for comprehensive reform of legislation, policy and practice. Recommendations have been influenced by successful practices in other jurisdictions while being tailored to the unique demographic and geographic needs of this sizeable state. A significant (though perhaps unsurprising) finding of the review was that regional Western Australians did not have equality of access to coronial services. This was reflected in the uneven quality of regional coronial investigations, inadequate training of regional magistrates acting as coroners and failure to provide the counselling service required by legislation. The Commission recommends a completely specialised jurisdiction with a State Coroner and Deputy based in Perth with dedicated regional coroners servicing the north and south of the state. A major structural reform recommended by the Commission is the repositioning of the Coroners Court under the umbrella of the District Court to bring it more overtly within the judicial hierarchy of the state and to provide a clear line of accountability to a chief judicial officer.

(2012) 37(2) AltLJ 139

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