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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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Youth Justice

Nigel Stobbs
Queensland

The Youth Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2015, currently at the committee stage, winds back some of the more unwelcome amendments to the Youth Justice Act 1992, made by the previous government. If enacted, the amending legislation will:

  • remove boot camp orders as a sentencing option for juveniles;
  • remove breach of bail as an offence for juveniles;
  • make childhood findings of guilt for which no conviction was recorded inadmissible when sentencing a person for an adult offence; and most importantly
  • reinstate the principle of imprisonment as a sentence of last resort for both juveniles and adults – and that any custodial sentence imposed on a child ought to be for the shortest appropriate period
(2016) 41(1) AltLJ 69

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SA Law Reform Institute recommends abolition of religious oaths

Kellie Toole
South Australia

The South Australian Law Reform Institute (‘SALRI’) has recommended that South Australia become the first jurisdiction in the nation to replace the existing religious oath and secular affirmation with a simple witness promise to tell the truth while giving evidence in court.

SALRI undertook consultations and received submissions from multicultural groups, judicial officers, religious leaders, lawyers, and members of the community. Some groups and individuals favoured retaining the religious oath, while others welcomed its replacement by a non-religious promise that recognised the separation of church and state.

(2016) 41(1) AltLJ 69

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Court on camera

David Caruso
South Australia

It has historically been impractical and intrusive to allow cameras in court room. For victims, defendants and witnesses, a court hearing can be daunting enough, let alone with a conspicuous, intimidating camera lens being pointed at you. Indeed, a courtroom can be a nerve-racking place for a seasoned lawyer.

But advances in technology can facilitate unobtrusive broadcasting. While courts have been limited by unwieldy technology and budget constraints, new and emerging technologies can significantly reduce the costs of filming (acknowledging that the courts can only do so much on a shoestring budget).

(2016) 41(1) AltLJ 69

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Workplaces (Protection from Protesters) Act 2014

The Tasmanian Committee
Tasmania

The passing of the Workplaces (Protection from Protesters) Act 2014 introduced some of the harshest penalties for protesting in Australia with maximum penalties increasing from two years to four years and significant fines being able to be imposed. The Act, which came into effect last year, fulfilled an election promise by the government to address illegal protests in Tasmanian workplaces. Recently, four people including Bob Brown, the former leader of the Australian Greens, were arrested under the new laws for protesting about the logging of the Lapoinya Forest in North West Tasmania.

The charges will be heard in the Magistrates Court later this year and are likely to result in convictions although an appeal on the grounds of incompatibility with the Australian Constitution’s implied freedom of communication regarding governmental and political matters remains a possibility with a large number of community groups, commentators and lawyers continuing to express their concerns with the Act.

(2016) 41(1) AltLJ 70

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Expunging historic homosexual convictions

The Tasmanian Committee
Tasmania

In other news, the Tasmanian government will introduce legislation later this year to expunge the historic criminal records for consensual homosexual sexual activity. Crimes that are expected to be expunged when the Bill is introduced include sexual intercourse against the order of nature, consensual sexual intercourse between males and indecent practices between males. The reform comes after the issue was initially progressed by Robin Banks, Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Commissioner and follows similar reforms in South Australia and Victoria. Additionally, a formal apology to those affected, including families and loved ones of those who are deceased, will be made when the Bill is introduced in Tasmania’s House of Assembly.

(2016) 41(1) AltLJ 70

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