: DUAO - Vol 40(4)

DUAO - 2015 - Vol 40(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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Land law

Kate Galloway
Queensland

The Nature Conservation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 has been introduced into Queensland parliament. The Bill reinstates various environmental protections that were removed under the previous government. The aim of the previous 2013 amendments was to reduce red tape in land access in Queensland. In doing so it increased access to national parks and otherwise protected areas. The new Bill again increases the number of protected areas, including the reinstatement of the national parks (scientific) class of protected area. Importantly also in advancing the purpose of nature conservation, the Bill removes the rolling term leases for grazing on national parks through amendments to the Land Act 1994.

(2015) 40(4) AltLJ 287

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Justice for the Mithaka people

Kate Galloway
Queensland

The Mithaka people of South West Queensland have been successful in their native title application over 55 425 square kilometres in south west Queensland after a 13-year campaign. It is sobering reading in the brief decision of Gorringe on behalf of the Mithaka People v State of Queensland [2015] FCA 1116, highlighting the ‘brutal treatment of Aboriginal men by Europeans’ and the exercise by the Queensland government of ‘extraordinary powers over the living conditions and movement of Aboriginal people’. These powers were in full force until the 1970s. The judgment notes that, ‘The passage of the Native Title Act in 1993 brought a new set of circumstances into being. Whereas for over a century the Aboriginal people of south west Queensland had been physically and legally dispossessed of their land, all of a sudden the government presented the possibility that their traditional rights and interests in their ancestral lands could be legally recognised.’ Hopefully, recommendations of Connection to Country: Review of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) (‘ALRC Report 126’) will be implemented, simplifying the native title process for traditional owners.

(2015) 40(4) AltLJ 287

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New Chief Justice

Allan Ardill
Queensland

Queensland has its first female Chief Justice following the appointment of Justice Catherine Holmes to the top position. Admitted as a barrister in 1984 and appointed Senior Counsel in 1999 Holmes CJ is amply experienced and qualified to lead the Court. Chief Justice Holmes was appointed from the Court of Appeal where she has served since 2006. The appointment has been welcomed by the profession and enjoys cross-party support unlike the appointment of the former Chief Justice whose incumbency ended prematurely in a resignation within the year. While Queensland Courts are headed by a woman for the first time, women represent just 26 per cent of the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.

(2015) 40(4) AltLJ 287

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Family violence funding boost hailed as nation building

The Tasmanian Committee
Tasmania

Following on from the Tasmanian Attorney-General’s announcement that a feasibility study will examine the merits of a specialist Family Violence Court, the Premier Will Hodgman recently unveiled a $26 million whole-of-government action plan to tackle family violence. Opposition parties and organisations working with victims and perpetrators of domestic violence unanimously praised the increased funding that included additional funding for community education, crisis accommodation and the legal assistance sector. The funding has been hailed as nation leading with Susan Fahey, CEO of the Women’s Legal Service noting that the government ‘have actually come up with a plan that tackles what’s going on in the community but with a view to preventing family violence into the future’.

(2015) 40(4) AltLJ 287

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Phasing out of suspended sentences

The Tasmanian Committee
Tasmania

The phasing out of suspended sentences that the government took to the state election in March 2014 as a key election policy is gathering pace with the recent release of the Sentencing Advisory Council’s Phasing out of Suspended Sentences Consultation Paper. The SAC Report makes clear that the numbers sent to prison could triple if non-custodial options are not introduced to replace suspended sentences and recommends the introduction of home detention, extending the drug diversion program to the Supreme Court and including provision for the treatment of alcohol abuse and the restructuring of probation and community service orders into an enhanced community correction order. Submissions to the consultation paper have now closed with the final report likely to be released early next year.

(2015) 40(4) AltLJ 287

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