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DownUnderAllOver

DownUnderAllOver

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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Firearms licences and the ‘public interest’

NSW Editorial Committee
New South Wales

Should the right to possess and use firearms be considered a protected individual civil right? Or a privilege regulated by governments and balanced against the ‘public good’?

In 1996 all Australian governments agreed that personal protection would not be regarded as a genuine reason for owning, possessing or using a firearm. Section 3 of the Firearms Act 1996 (NSW) lists as one of its underlying principles ‘to confirm firearm possession and use as being a privilege that is conditional on the overriding need to ensure public safety’ and regulation 19 of the Firearms Regulation 2006 provides that the Commissioner of Police may revoke a licence if satisfied that it is not in the public interest for the licensee to continue to hold the licence. Despite this, there is evidence of support within Australia for recognition of a right to firearm ownership. However, it is difficult to know whether these views are reflective of the wider community or not.

(2011) 36(2) AltLJ 131

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Coal, climate activism and the law of victims compensation

Sue Higginson
New South Wales

Policy and international action against climate change has meant a strengthened climate change protest movement worldwide. Professor James Hansen, NASA climate scientist, said ‘civil resistance is not an easy path, but given abdication of responsibility by government, it is an essential path’. (Martin Wainwright, ‘Climate plea fails to sway train hijack jury’, The Guardian Weekly, 10 July 2009) An emerging response in NSW has been claims for compensation under the Victims Support and Rehabilitation Act 1996 (NSW) (‘Victims Act’)

(2011) 36(2) AltLJ 131

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Residential tenancies law reform in New South Wales

Chris Martin
New South Wales

The new Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (NSW) commenced on 31 January 2011. The first major revamp of the State’s residential tenancies legislation in more than 20 years, it includes a number of positive innovations.

Residential tenancy databases are, for the first time, subject to a strong regime of regulation. The new Act prescribes the circumstances in which a person’s name and other information may be listed on a database, and timeframes for the removal of listings — including a maximum period of three years. Listed persons are entitled to be informed of the listing, and may apply to the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal for orders that inaccurate, out-of-date or unjust listings be removed. The new provisions apply in relation to new listings and, from 1 May 2011, to current listings that were made before the Act’s commencement.

(2011) 36(2) AltLJ 132

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Emergency Response Act

Stephen Gray
Northern Territory

In 2007, following the commencement of the Northern Territory National Emergency Response Act 2007, commonly referred to as ‘The Intervention’, the Commonwealth was enabled to intervene directly in the treatment of Aboriginal customary law in the Northern Territory courts. It did so in Part 6 of the Northern Territory National Emergency Response Act 2007 (‘the Act’), specifically s 91, which prevents a court from taking customary law or cultural practice into account as a defence or in sentencing.

(2011) 36(2) AltLJ 133

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Youth justice

Ruth Brebner
Northern Territory

On 29 March 2011 the Minister for Justice and Attorney-General announced a review into the Youth Justice System in the Northern Territory. The terms of reference were published on the same day.

Appointed to lead the review was former member for Araluen, Jodeen Carney. During her time in the Legislative Assembly, Ms Carney served as Opposition Leader and shadow Attorney-General, resigning in 2010. Ms Carney’s appointment is seen as a strategic move to encourage bi-partisan support of the review. Ms Carney’s long time residence in Alice Springs, and commitment to issues affecting Central Australia is also likely to encourage support from regional and remote youth organisations.

(2011) 36(2) AltLJ 133

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