: DUAO - Vol 37(3)

DUAO - 2012 - Vol 37(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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A new era in Queensland politics

Allan Ardill
Queensland

Queensland’s 54th Parliament was elected on Saturday 24 March 2012. The LNP won a clear majority of seats in the unicameral legislature. It holds 78 of the 89 seats while the ALP was left with just seven seats. Bob Katter’s Australia Party won two seats and the remaining two seats are held by independents. The LNP waited nearly 14 years to gain office and, given the massive victory, no-one can claim the LNP lacks a mandate for its policies. The Newman-led LNP government promised to: ‘grow a four pillar economy’, ‘lower the cost of living for families by cutting waste’, ‘ deliver better infrastructure and better planning’, ‘revitalise front line services for families’, and ‘restore accountability in government’. Each of these core promises was supported by several policies listed on the LNP website (http://lnp.org.au/policies).

(2012) 37(3) AltLJ 208

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Reef’s standing threatened by governance?

Kate Galloway
Queensland

The status of the Great Barrier Reef may shift to a World Heritage site ‘in danger’ under the latest UNESCO Report issued on 1 June 2012. The Report requires Australia to take action by February 2013 to demonstrate its commitment to conserving the Reef.

In addition to what may be considered more ‘downstream’ concerns generated from Gladstone Harbour operations and the Curtis Island LNG plant, other events this month highlight that there are other direct threats to the Reef. In the third incident in a month, bulk carrier ID Integrity lost power off the far north Queensland coast, and drifted close to Shark Reef. While this incident ended well for the Reef, it has renewed calls for a review of shipping routes.

(2012) 37(3) AltLJ 209

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High Court decision in Marital Rape case: P, GA v The Queen [2012] HCA 21

Kellie Toole
South Australia

On 30 May 2012, the High Court handed down judgment in the appeal of the South Australian Supreme Court decision that P could be convicted of the 1963 rape of his then wife. P argued that a ‘marital rape immunity’ prevented him being convicted of the rape of his wife in 1963, and convicting him now would breach the principle against retrospective application of laws and violate his human rights. Despite acknowledging the human rights issue, the Supreme Court held that the common law abolition of the immunity in R v L (1991) 174 CLR 379 had retrospective effect and removed any bar to prosecution of a marital rape.

(2012) 37(3) AltLJ 209

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Integrity Commissioner lacks investigative powers

Benedict Bartl and Noelle Rattray
Tasmania

The Tasmanian government is not proposing to bring forward a proposed review of its anti-corruption watchdog, the Integrity Commission, despite recent comments by the acting chief executive that the Commission lacks sufficient power to investigate claims of serious misconduct. Despite the Integrity Commission Act 2009 (Tas) granting the Commission powers to ask questions and demand information, the Act also provides protection against self-incrimination. Or in the words of the acting chief executive Russell Pearce ‘[a]ny investigation… would be at real risk of being frustrated by the inability of the commission to compel answers, and would be unlikely therefore to achieve a definitive outcome’ adding that ‘such a basic coercive power is vested in all similar agencies in other Australian jurisdictions’. A review of the Commission is scheduled to take place next year.

(2012) 37(3) AltLJ 209

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Forest Reference Group progress

Benedict Bartl and Noelle Rattray
Tasmania

The Tasmanian Forests Agreement Bill 2012 was tabled in Tasmania’s House of Assembly on 21 June 2012. As negotiations to protect up to 572,000 hectares of Tasmania’s wilderness continue, the Bill is currently lacking in detail with the signatories to the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement committed to providing a detailed report to the state and federal governments on 23 July 2012. Final agreement between the signatories will result in the recommendations being incorporated into the Bill which, when passed, will release $100 million of federal funding into the Tasmanian economy.

(2012) 37(3) AltLJ 209

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