Law Reform given Herculean task

Prof Rosalind Croucher
Prof Rosalind Croucher

Attorney-General George Brandis has given Australia’s Law Reform Commission a huge task to review our ‘freedom’ laws, and allowed less than a year to do it.

ALRC given Herculean task…but has a whole year!

Attorney-General George Brandis has tasked Prof Rosalind Croucher, head of the Australian Law Reform Commission, with seeking out the laws that offend by encroaching upon traditional rights, freedoms and privileges.

The AG says such laws are those which:

  • reverse or shift the burden of proof;
  • deny procedural fairness by ministers, bureaucrats and the government;
  • exclude the right to claim the privilege of self-incrimination;
  • abrogate legal professional privilege;
  • apply strict or absolute liability to all physical  elements of a criminal offence;
  • interfere with:
    • freedom of speech,
    • freedom of religion,
    • vested property rights,
    • freedom of association, or
    • freedom of movement;
  • disregard common law protection of personal reputation;
  • authorise a tort;
  • inappropriately delegate legislative power to the Executive;
  • give executive immunities a wide application;
  • retrospectively change rights and obligations;
  • retrospectively extend criminal law;
  • alter criminal law practices based on the principle of a fair trial;
  • permit an appeal from an acquittal;  and
  • restrict access to the courts;

He has ordered the ALRC to concentrate on commercial and corporate regulation, environmental regulation, and workplace relations. The ALRC is also to take into account:

  • how laws are drafted, implemented and operate in practice;  and
  • safeguards provided in the laws, such as rights of review or other scrutiny mechanisms.

Thankfully, the ALRC is to “identify and consult relevant stakeholders”, including relevant Commonwealth departments and agencies, the Australian Human Rights Commission, and other key non-government stakeholders.

Civil Liberties Australia (CLA) hope we’re included: we would suggest starting the AG’s campaign with all the 60-plus terror laws passed since 11 September 2001. CLA recently wrote to the AG about winding them back…but the answer didn’t address our question.

Deadline for the ALRC report is 1 Dec 2014…a very short time frame for such a major undertaking.

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2 Comments

  1. ” ……….seeking out the laws that offend by encroaching upon traditional rights, freedoms and privileges”.

    I live in hope!

    Bridgette Pace

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