: DUAO - Vol 40(2)

DUAO - 2015 - Vol 40(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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Governance remains on the radar

Kate Galloway
Queensland

The controversy surrounding the appointment of Queensland’s new Chief Justice continues. In his valedictory speech, retiring judge Alan Wilson indicated that the Court was suffering from a ‘lack of leadership’. Of note, he indicated that the Chief Justice had sacked Justice Byrne as Chief Judge Administrator — an event that had been protested and subsequently reversed. Further, he alleged that the Chief Justice had sought to ‘contest the automatic operation of [a] protocol’ for the constitution of the Court of Disputed Returns, ‘in the teeth of a possible contest about the outcome of the election in Ferny Grove’. Reports have also emerged about the Chief Justice’s workload, suggesting that he is allocated many fewer sitting days than his predecessor. While there is no question as to ongoing competent administration of justice in Queensland, the apparent unhappiness of the bench and the unsettling allegations inevitably cast a shadow.

(2015) 40(2) AltLJ 140

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Barrier Reef remains under threat

Kate Galloway
Queensland

In the face of urgent need to protect the Great Barrier Reef, the Queensland and Commonwealth governments jointly released ‘Reef 2050’. It purports to be a long-term plan for Reef sustainability, and its release satisfies one of UNESCO’s recommendations to avoid categorising the Reef as ‘in danger’. The Reef is presently listed as ‘at risk’ and UNESCO will consider the Reef’s listing further, in June 2015. Reef 2050 nominates climate change as one of the Reef’s principal risks. Despite this, government ‘wants to have coal mines operating in 60 years’ time’ which, according to reef scientist Terry Hughes, is incompatible with a healthy reef. Meanwhile the Commonwealth government has established an inquiry into the tax-deductible status of environmental groups, suggesting that the work of environmental charities is political, rather than frontline environmental protection. Yet changes to the tax status of these organisations may further erode public debate on environmental protection.

(2015) 40(2) AltLJ 140

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One vote, one value to be restored in QLD

James Farrell
Queensland

The recent Queensland election was historic for many reasons. A record-breaking majority government turfed out after one term, threats of Court challenges when candidates were found to be ineligible to stand, an arrest for offensive t-shirt wearing, and in a first for an Australian jurisdiction, the introduction of voter identification requirements. The new Palazczuk government is seeking to repeal the requirement, arguing that having to provide ID is disproportionate, unnecessary and discriminatory.

The tactic is popular in the United States, where even the judges who allowed early voter ID laws now recognise that it is a tool for repressing the vote of marginalised groups, particularly African-American and Latino voters.

(2015) 40(2) AltLJ 141

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Addressing gay rights

James Farrell
Queensland

of further prosecution, decriminalisation did not address the impacts of Queenslanders having a criminal record relating to historical homosexual offences, meaning that some Queenslanders experience ongoing stigma, shame, and disadvantage for conduct that is now legal.

Five Australian jurisdictions (South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania) have already taken steps to address the issue of historic convictions for consensual homosexual activities and related conduct.

(2015) 40(2) AltLJ 141

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Improving child protection

Alex Reilly
South Australia

South Australian coroner Mark Johns made significant recommendations for child protection policy and practice in inquest findings on 9 April 2015 which have attracted a great deal of media attention in SA.

Chloe Valentine died of head injuries after being forced by her mother and mother’s partner to ride a motorbike that repeatedly crashed over a three-day period in the backyard of her Adelaide home in January 2012. While Chloe lay unconscious after her last fall from the bike, her mother and partner waited 8½ hours before calling an ambulance. As the coroner put it, ‘by their own admission, during that intervening period they occupied themselves by using Facebook, doing some internet banking, searching the internet as to what to do when a person was rendered unconscious, and smoked cannabis’.

(2015) 40(2) AltLJ 141

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