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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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New police powers

Kira Levin
New South Wales

While not yet implemented, under these new laws police will have the power to stop, search and detain a person if the officer suspects that person has in their possession anything that is intended to be used to lock-on or secure that person to plant, equipment or a structure for the purpose of interfering with the conduct of a business or undertaking and that is likely to be used in a manner that will give rise to a serious risk to the safety of any person.

(2016) 41(2) AltLJ 137

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Sentencing of Farrell and church cover-up

David Hamer
New South Wales

On 2 May, former Catholic priest John Farrell was sentenced to 29 years imprisonment, 18 years without parole, for dozens of sexual offences committed against twelve children in the 1970s and 80s. Police may now consider whether senior clergymen can be prosecuted for concealing Farrell's offences.

A key piece of evidence is a letter dated 11 September 1992 from Father Wayne Peters (until his death last year, Vicar-General of Armidale) to Bishop Kevin Manning, (now Bishop Emeritus of Parramatta) outlining in some detail Farrell's confessions to Peters, Father Brian Lucas (now Director of Catholic Mission) and Father John Usher (until last year, Chancellor of Sydney): http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/documents/abuse2012/Letter_1992.pdf. NSW has fairly narrow and weak mandatory reporting laws which would not apply here. However, Manning, Usher and Lucas may face charges for the broader, graver offence of non-disclosure of a serious offence under s 361 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), punishable by two years' imprisonment.

(2016) 41(2) AltLJ 137

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No body, no parole

Isabel Roper
Northern Territory

Attorney-General John Elferink has proposed new legislation that will prevent offenders convicted of murder from applying for parole, unless they reveal the location of their victim's body.

A similar law is in force in South Australia, and Bills have been developed in both Western Australia and Victoria.

At the moment, only one person in the NT would be affected by the law: Bradley John Murdoch, who was convicted in 2005 of the 2001 murder of Peter Falconio and the abduction and assault of Falconio's girlfriend, Joanne Lees. He is serving a life sentence with a 28-year non-parole period.

(2016) 41(2) AltLJ 138

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Abortion before the courts again

Kate Galloway
Queensland

In April, McMeekin J of the Queensland Supreme Court heard an application by the litigation guardian of a 12-year-old girl seeking an abortion. The girl was nine weeks pregnant. The decision is reported in Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service v Q [2016] QSC 89 (26 April 2016).

There were two issues before the Court. The first invoked its parens patriae jurisdiction, seeking a declaration that the girl had sufficient capacity to consent to an abortion. The Court found that the child was clearly of sufficient maturity to give informed consent to the procedure, applying the test for Gillick competence and relying heavily on the judgment of Wilson J in State of Queensland v B [2008] 2 Qd R 562.

(2016) 41(2) AltLJ 138

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Youth justice reforms: Stage 2

Kelli Lemas
Queensland

Youth justice reforms in Queensland will remove the automatic transfer of 17-year-old offenders to adult correctional facilities, close to the public youth justice matters in the Magistrates Court and reinstate youth justice conferencing.

The Youth Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 was introduced to the Queensland parliament on 21 April 2016 and gives effect to the second stage of amendments to the Youth Justice Act 1992 and the Children's Court Act 1992.

(2016) 41(2) AltLJ 138

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