: DUAO - Vol 41(3)

DUAO - 2016 - Vol 41(3)

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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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Residential Tenancies Act review

Ned Cutcher
New South Wales

Following a public consultation process and a review of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (NSW), NSW Fair Trading released a report in late June 2016.

As a statutory review, there was no imperative for Fair Trading to revisit the policy intentions upon which the Act was based. Despite this, their consultation paper raised questions such as how and why tenancies should be brought to an end, whether current provisions around rent increases are fairly set, and whether the Act strikes the right balance between the interests of landlords and tenants in New South Wales. The Tenants’ Union of NSW (‘TUNSW’) made strong submissions on these points, as did many other organisations and individuals with an interest in tenants’ rights. But these discussions have been left unresolved.

(2016) 41(3) AltLJ 211


Abuse in youth detention hits mainstream media

Rebecca Naylor and Christopher Frawley
Northern Territory

Conditions at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in Darwin were the subject of a Four Corners report on Monday 25 July 2016. The report ‘Australia’s Shame’ that aired nationally highlighted systemic abuse and maltreatment of young people in Don Dale Youth Detention Centre over the past six years. It showed graphic footage and audio taken from CCTV and prison officer handycams of excessive force being used by guards, boys being held in isolation cells for long periods of time, the use of restraints such as spit hoods and a mechanical restraint chair.

(2016) 41(3) AltLJ 212


Environment, workplace safety, political donations & discrimination

Kate Galloway

Land clearing is in the news again in Queensland. The government has introduced laws to re-tighten vegetation clearing regulations, which had been overturned by the previous government. Landholders are concerned about the impact of land clearing limits on their property values, while conservationists have noted the dramatic increase in land clearing activity following the more relaxed rules. Premier Newman’s 2013 amendments removed protection for high value regrowth forest, allowed landowners to self-assess their clearing, permitted remnant forest to be cleared for high-value agriculture, and put the onus of proof of an offence on to the government. The proposed changes will reverse these amendments, and they will operate retrospectively in an attempt to avoid panic tree-clearing.

In other heritage news the Queensland State Development Assessment Provisions will be amended to give more weight to heritage concerns. The Provisions contain the matters that may be considered in assessing a development application. Following the amendments, development applications for a heritage-listed property will need to examine whether there are any ‘prudent and feasible’ alternatives. Queensland has a long history of lax enforcement of heritage protection.

(2016) 41(3) AltLJ 212


Retrospective abolition of rights under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988 (SA)

Sue Tilley
South Australia

The Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988 (SA) was established to protect Aboriginal heritage, sites, ancestral remains and objects. 

The all-important section 6(2) gave traditional owners a potentially powerful tool to determine the protection of their heritage, because it provided that the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation must, at the request of the traditional owners of an Aboriginal site or object, delegate to them the Minister’s powers for granting or withholding of authorisation to damage, disturb or interfere with Aboriginal sites, remains or objects.

However, the Act was amended in March 2016 by the Aboriginal Heritage (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2016, and s 6(2) was deleted and its abolition applied retrospectively.

(2016) 41(3) AltLJ 213


Abortion buffer zone challenged

The Tasmanian Committee

Tasmania’s Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Act 2013 which controversially included a 150-metre buffer zone around abortion clinics has been challenged in a test case likely to have repercussions nationwide. Three pro-life protestor were charged after protesting outside a Hobart clinic in April 2015 and within the 150-metre buffer zone. In the first of what is likely to be a number of appeals, the protesters argued that the laws stifled religious freedom and the implied freedom of political communication. At first instance Magistrate Rheinberger however found the charges proved. A couple involved in the protest had no conviction recorded provided they are of good behaviour for 12 months, while the third protestor, a Queensland man who has been convicted on a number of other occasions for similar protests interstate, was fined $3000. An appeal to the Supreme Court is likely with the buffer zones’ constitutional validity likely to be closely watched by other jurisdictions around Australia which have introduced similar legislation or are considering introducing similar legislation.

(2016) 41(3) AltLJ 213


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