: 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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Victims compensation: Vital for victims

Liz Snell, Edwina MacDonald & Rachael Martin
New South Wales

In August 2011 the NSW Attorney-General announced the Victims Compensation Scheme would be reviewed. PricewaterhouseCoopers was appointed to conduct the review with a report due to government by June 2012. Despite repeated calls for this report to be made public, at the time of writing it still has not been released.

In September 2012, eighty leading human rights, health, community, women’s and legal organisations called on the NSW Attorney-General to retain and strengthen the NSW compensation scheme for victims of violent crime. This is particularly important for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault (including child sexual assault)as the injuries suffered by these victims are often repeatedly sustained and the impact of these crimes is significant and long-lasting.

(2012) 37(4) AltLJ 287

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New NT government

NT Committee
Northern Territory

On 25 August 2012, Territorians hit the polls for the 2012 general election. A 5.1 per cent swing to the Country Liberal Party (‘CLP’) resulted in the CLP taking power for the first time in 11 years. The result was surprising, with most pundits anticipating a close finish. This could be because there is no polling in the Northern Territory, meaning no one really knows what the electorate is thinking until the counting starts. Nevertheless, bookies had locked in the CLP as firm favourite three weeks prior to race day.

(2012) 37(4) AltLJ 287

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Enough alcohol is … enough

Sue Erickson
Northern Territory

The banned drinker register (‘BDR’) came into force on 1 July 2011 in the Northern Territory as part of the former government’s ‘Enough is Enough Alcohol Reform Package’. All licensees (persons holding a licence for the sale of liquor) in the NT installed scanning equipment and all people buying takeaway liquor were required to produce photo identification for scanning on purchase. Under the scheme, persons who had been given a ‘Banning Alcohol and Treatment notice’ under the Alcohol Reform (Prevention of Alcohol-related Crime and Substance Misuse) Act were entered into the identification system and a licensee would be able to identify a banned person from scanning their identification. It was an offence for licensees to sell alcohol to a person on the BDR. A ‘Banning Alcohol and Treatment notice’ could be given to a person for a number of reasons, including to a person who had, within the previous three months, been held in alcohol-related protective custody at least three times.

(2012) 37(4) AltLJ 288

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Perceptions of bias in Alice Springs

Ruth Brebner
Northern Territory

On 12 October 2012, the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory (Barr J) prohibited an acting magistrate from hearing a criminal matter in the Alice Springs Court of Summary Jurisdiction (ODPP v McNamara [2012] NTSC 81). The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions raised an objection on the basis the acting magistrate’s husband was the principal legal officer of the criminal law division of Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service (‘CAALAS’). Approximately 72 per cent of criminal matters in the lower courts in the NT involve Aboriginal defendants, the vast majority of whom are legally represented by CAALAS in Alice Springs. The principal legal officer’s position involves supervision of other legal staff, monitoring of the advocacy section, and conduct of serious criminal casework. There was no suggestion the principal legal officer would actually appear before his wife in her capacity as an acting magistrate.

(2012) 37(4) AltLJ 288

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God, Queen and Country in the Sunshine State — 2012 style

Steven White
Queensland

The portents were clear in the inaugural speech to state parliament in 2009, three years before the recent landslide election victory by the Liberal National Party and Jarrod Bleijie’s appointment as Attorney-General and Minister for Justice. In the first paragraph of his 2009 speech Bleijie, then 27 years old, took the opportunity to ‘acknowledge Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, who provides such a distinguished example of public service to us all’. After recognising the importance of secularism, Bleijie confided ‘[f]or myself, I am not bashful about declaring that I am a practising Christian. I am an elder of the Kawana Waters Uniting Church, and worship and church activities play a major part in our life. I am sure that it will sustain me in this new role’. In the same speech, Bleijie seized on the approach of ANZAC Day to demonstrate his nationalistic credo: ‘[t]o the diggers of the past and the present I would like to pay tribute to the dedication you continually show when serving this country and the manner in which you conduct yourselves in battles abroad’.

(2012) 37(4) AltLJ 289

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