: 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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Religious discrimination exemption

The Tasmanian Committee
Tasmania

The Tasmanian Government has introduced controversial new legislation to amend Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Act 1998. Touted as one of the strongest Anti-Discrimination Acts in Australia, the Bill, if passed, will water down existing provisions by providing for religious exemptions to discriminate.

The Amendment Bill will allow schools to discriminate in their choice of students where it is believed that the student ‘does not share those [religious] tenets, beliefs, teachings, principles or practices’. 

(2015) 40(2) AltLJ 142

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Increase in fines

The Tasmanian Committee
Tasmania

In other news from Tasmania, the Government is moving forward on its election commitment to increase fines for penalties imposed by the courts as well as infringement notices. The Penalty Units and Other Penalties Amendment Bill 2015 will increase penalty units from $120 to $154 and will see fines rise with inflation in subsequent years. In introducing the Bill the government stated that it would send a clear message that crime did not pay and the prospect of an increased penalty would hopefully serve as a deterrent to illegal behaviour.

(2015) 40(2) AltLJ 142

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Limitation on civil actions for child abuse removed

Robert Corr
Victoria

In 2013 the Victorian Parliament’s Family and Community Development Committee delivered its Betrayal of Trust report on child abuse. One important recommendation was that ‘the Victorian Government consider amending the Limitation of Actions Act 1958 (Vic) to exclude criminal child abuse from the operation of the limitations period under that Act’.

The Limitation of Actions Amendment (Child Abuse) Act 2015 implements this recommendation by removing any limitation period on actions based on physical abuse, sexual abuse, or the resulting psychological abuse of children, regardless of when the abuse occurred.

(2015) 40(2) AltLJ 142

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Controversial move-on powers repealed

Robert Corr
Victoria

In 2014, the Coalition government expanded police move-on powers by broadening the grounds for their application, and especially by removing the protection for picketing employers, protesting or demonstrating, or ‘otherwise behaving in a way that is apparently intended to publicise the person’s view about a particular issue’. (See DUAO (2014) 39(1) AltLJ 63.) These amendments to the Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic) were made in the wake of the Occupy Melbourne protests and a large CFMEU protest over safety on Grocon construction sites.

The Andrews government has repealed those draconian provisions.

(2015) 40(2) AltLJ 143

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Distracted drivers to be jailed?

Steven Castan
Western Australia

New laws proposed in Western Australia could see extremely harsh penalties for drivers who are distracted in the normal course of driving, with drivers jailed under the new offence of careless driving occasioning death, grievous bodily harm or bodily harm. There are already heavy penalties for reckless driving and dangerous driving under the Road Safety Act.

The new laws are being hailed by some advocates as vital to saving lives on WA roads while critics say they are ‘frightening’ in their scope and too harsh a penalty for distracted drivers. The 2014 WA road toll was the highest for four years, with 184 deaths. Based on WA’s population of 2.6 million, the fatality rate equates to approximately 7.1 deaths per 100 000 people; the national rate is 5 deaths per 100 000, and Victoria and NSW have an average of 4.5 per 100 000.

(2015) 40(2) AltLJ 143

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