: DUAO - Vol 39(4)

DUAO - 2014 - Vol 39(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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Judiciary

Kate Galloway
Queensland

Following recent controversy over judicial appointments (see DUAO 39(3)), the latest round of appointments has been more positively received. Judge Kerry O’Brien, previously Judge Administrator of the District Court, was appointed to replace Chief Judge Patsy Wolf who has recently retired. Additionally, the Attorney-General announced on 23 October 2014 the appointments of Judge Paul Smith to Judge Administrator; and Helen Bowskill QC, Dean Morzone QC, Suzanne Sheridan, and Federal Circuit Court Judge Michael Burnett as Judges of the District Court.

Prior to these latest appointments, of 20 new judges only one woman has been appointed by the present government.

It is therefore notable that the present round of appointments includes a further two women.

(2014) 39(4) AltLJ 275

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Water

Kate Galloway
Queensland

In August, the Wild Rivers Act 2005 was repealed by the State Development, Infrastructure and Planning (Red Tape Reduction) and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2014. Subsequently, the Water Reform and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2014 was introduced to Parliament. According to the Explanatory Memorandum, the changes in the Bill:

form part of a whole-of-water business transformation which will responsibly accelerate productivity for Queensland and deliver an efficient, effective and modern water resource management framework … to accelerate growth of the agriculture and resources sectors and create economic development opportunities for rural and regional Queensland.

The Bill will achieve this in part by amending the purpose of the Water Act 2000. Its present purpose is for ‘the sustainable management of water and other resources…’ (emphasis added). In contrast, the proposed new purpose is for ‘the responsible and productive management of water and the management of impacts on underground water’ (emphasis added).

The Bill also amends the Mineral Resources Act 1989, allowing holders of mineral development licences or mining leases to ‘take or interfere with’ underground water in the area, in the course of their authorised activities under the lease or licence. This reflects a broader licensing framework for the Water Act. It allows a single licence authorising both interference and taking, assuming that these activities are linked.

The shift from sustainable management to responsible and productive management is indicative of the predominance in Queensland of economic concerns over environmental ones.

(2014) 39(4) AltLJ 275

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Violence

Kate Galloway
Queensland

As part of the government’s ‘Safe Night Out’ strategy, it is proposed that those assaulting health workers, including nurses, doctors and paramedics, will face ‘double sentences’ of up to 14 years. This follows the recently enacted Safe Night Out Legislation Amendment Act 2014, which provides, among other things, for the new criminal offence of unlawful striking causing death. The Act also provides now for aggravating circumstances of ‘committing an offence in a public place while … adversely affected by an intoxicating substance.’ The legislation was enacted in response to nightclub violence and the notorious so-called ‘one punch’ incidents widely reported in the press.

In other news, the Queensland government has launched a Domestic and Family Violence Taskforce, chaired by Dame Quentin Bryce. Summits are being held in Brisbane and Townsville during October and November to hear from ‘experts, advocates and thought leaders’ on action necessary to stop family violence.

(2014) 39(4) AltLJ 275

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Human Rights

Kate Galloway

Victoria has now expunged the criminal records of people found guilty of homosexual acts under now repealed laws. New South Wales seems also to be ready to do so. The Queensland Attorney-General’s department originally indicated that there were no such plans in Queensland, however the Attorney-General has since made a statement that he will arrange a meeting with Brisbane Pride Festival president Peter Black to discuss the issue.

(2014) 39(4) AltLJ 275

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Balancing human rights with protection from sexual exploitation

Natalie Wade
South Australia

In February 2014, the Australian Human Rights Commission released the Equal before the Law report determining that people with disabilities who come into contact with the criminal justice system are not equal before the law. A recommendation was made to all states and territories to implement disability justice strategies. The South Australian Attorney-General released Australia’s first Disability Justice Plan in June 2014. The Plan aims to make the criminal justice system more accessible and responsive to the needs of people with disability in South Australia.

A pioneering priority action came to life before the parliament in October 2014 with the Attorney-General introducing the Criminal Law Consolidation (Sexual Offences – Cognitive Impairment) Bill 2014.

(2014) 39(4) AltLJ 276

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