: DUAO - Vol 37(4)

DUAO - 2012 - Vol 37(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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Australia’s controversial ratification 
of cluster bomb ban treaty

Michelle Fahy
Federal

In 2008 Australia signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions (‘CCM’). This important international treaty bans cluster bombs, an indiscriminate class of weapon known to cause significant and long-lasting civilian harm. The CCM is the most significant international disarmament treaty negotiated since the landmine ban treaty in 1997.

Australia ratified the CCM in early October 2008 and passed local legislation on 21 August 2012. Rather than celebrating this outcome, a large number of respected civil society organisations (including the International Committee of the Red Cross, Australian Red Cross, Human Rights Watch, and the Cluster Munition Coalition) remain bitterly disappointed with the legislation which, they say, contains serious flaws that work against the entire purpose of the treaty.

(2012) 37(4) AltLJ 285

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The Charity Commission Blues

Elen Seymour
Federal

In the May 2011 Federal Budget, the government announced several measures targeting the Not-For-Profit (‘NFP’) sector generally, and charities specifically. A cornerstone of the announced reforms was the creation of a new statutory regulator — the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (the ‘ACNC’). The purpose of the reforms, including the long-awaited charity commission, is two-fold: The first is to reduce the compliance burden on the sector through centralisation, the creation of the ‘charity passport’ and harmonisation of statutory requirements, including between jurisdictions. The second is increased sector accountability through oversight and increased reporting requirements. Nearly 18 months later it has finally come to pass.

(2012) 37(4) AltLJ 285

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New national Alliance for rural and regional equity and justice

Richard Coverdale
Federal

Rural and regional Australians are often disadvantaged in their ability to access the justice system and utilise related services. There is also a limited capacity for rural communities to have an effective voice in shaping laws and policies which impact on their lives, in comparison to their metropolitan counterparts.

Legislation and government policies and programs tend to reflect a ‘one size fits all’ approach, which often does not acknowledge the variations between metropolitan and regional circumstances and has created a clear inequity in the provision of justice system services and outcomes for rural and regional communities.

(2012) 37(4) AltLJ 286

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Changes to armed guard sector entry provisions

NSW Editorial Committee
New South Wales

At the time of writing, the Security Industry Amendment Bill 2012 is awaiting assent. Among other things the Bill makes provision for entry requirements for the armed guarding sector of the security industry to be broadened. That is, where armed guards previously had to enter the industry via a cash-in-transit company, like Chubb or Armaguard, this will no longer be the case. In addition, the Bill clarifies that the existing ‘business / employment’ genuine reason on which a firearms licence may be based, includes static guarding of approved premises on a voluntary basis.

(2012) 37(4) AltLJ 286

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Innocence lost? The Evidence Amendment (Evidence of Silence) Bill 2012

Elyse Methven
New South Wales

In August 2012, NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell announced that the right to silence laws must be ‘toughened’ so that the ‘scales of justice will be tilted towards common sense’ (NSW Premier, Media Release, 14 August 2012). It follows several high profile cases in which defendants raised evidence at trial which had not been mentioned in their police record of interview.

The Evidence Amendment (Evidence of Silence) Bill 2012 (‘the Bill’) was released for comment by the Department of Attorney-General and Justice on 12 September 2012. The Bill inserts a new s 89A into the Evidence Act 1995 (NSW), which alters the principle that an accused has the right to remain silent when being questioned by authorities.

(2012) 37(4) AltLJ 286

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