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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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Mandatory life sentences for cop killers

James Leaver
New South Wales

On 23 June, the Crimes Amendment (Murder of Police Officers) Act 2011 (NSW) commenced, inserting a new s 19B into the Crimes Act 1900. Section 19B(1) of that Act now provides that a court must impose a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for the murder of a police officer if the murder was committed:

(a)    while the police officer was executing his or her duty, or
(b)    as a consequence of, or in retaliation for, actions undertaken by that or any other police officer in the execution of his or her duty,
    and if the person convicted of the murder:
(c)    knew or ought reasonably to have known that the person killed was a police officer, and
(d)    intended to kill the police officer or was engaged in criminal activity that risked serious harm to police officers.

(2011) 36(3) AltLJ 207


High Court rules NSW ‘bikie’ legislation invalid

Greg Martin
New South Wales

In the matter of Wainohu v New South Wales [2011] HCA 24 (23 June 2011), the High Court of Australia held the Crimes (Criminal Organisations Control) Act 2009 (NSW) (‘the Act’) invalid by a majority of 6–1.

On 6 July 2010, the Acting Commissioner of Police for NSW applied to a judge of the Supreme Court of NSW for a declaration under Part 2 of the Act in respect of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club of NSW. The plaintiff, Derek James Wainohu, is a member of that club. If the Club was declared a criminal organisation, the plaintiff risked being made subject to a control order under Part 3 of the Act.

(2011) 36(3) AltLJ 208


NSW turns off 38 speed cameras

Katherine Biber
New South Wales

In July 2011, the NSW Auditor-General, Peter Achterstraat, released a performance audit into speed cameras. The report, Improving Road Safety: Speed Cameras, inquired into the Roads and Traffic Authority’s (‘RTA’) installation and use of cameras, and was a response to public concerns that the cameras were ‘revenue-raising’, rather than effective safety measures.

(2011) 36(3) AltLJ 208


Youth justice — diversion

Sue Erickson
Northern Territory

Pre-court diversion for young offenders is provided for in the legislation of all jurisdictions and comprises part of a restorative justice framework. Restorative justice focuses on the needs of the victim, the offender and the community and encourages the offender to take responsibility for his or her actions and make reparations. Young offenders are treated differently to adult offenders, given their age and maturity, but the criminal justice system recognises that they need to take responsibility for the offending behaviour and be held accountable for their actions. Pre-court diversion in all jurisdictions generally consists of informal warnings, formal warnings and referral to conferences at the first instance contact with the criminal justice system is made, with court attendance being the last option. Generally, the young offender must have admitted to the offending behaviour and consent to the diversionary practice. The offences eligible for diversion tend to be summary offences or minor offences, and are more comprehensively defined in the relevant legislation for each jurisdiction.

(2011) 36(3) AltLJ 209


Floods Inquiry Interim Report

Steven White

The Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry, established to inquire into the flood events of December 2010 and January 2011, has presented an interim report to the Queensland government. The report can be accessed at:


(2011) 36(3) AltLJ 210


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