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Scott Morrison has repeatedly characterised the Asylum Seeker Code of Behaviour as being necessary to protect the Australian community. AAP/Alan Porritt

Asylum seeker code is a rhetorical tool – with severe consequences

Recently, it was reported that asylum seekers are “staying indoors”, fearful of breaching the Asylum Seeker Code of Behaviour. All unauthorised maritime arrivals (UMAs) who are granted bridging visas are…
Should Australia’s High Court judges be representative of the community that their rulings affect? Should politics play a part? AAP/Lukas Coch

Appointing Australia’s highest judges deserves proper scrutiny

Late last week, the federal government appointed Geoffrey Nettle, a Victorian Court of Appeal judge, to the High Court to replace retiring justice Susan Crennan. Nettle is an excellent lawyer and his appointment…
Asylum seekers with an existing mental health condition who receive negative outcomes during the application process are particularly vulnerable. Barat Ali Batoor

‘Fast track’ asylum processing risks fairness for efficiency

After much controversy, the Senate passed the Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014 late last week. One aspect of the law – the “fast track assessment…
No other minister has the same unchecked control over the lives of other people as the immigration minister has. AAP/Lukas Coch

New law gives Morrison unprecedented control over asylum seekers

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison now has unchecked power to decide the outcomes that will affect the lives of asylum seekers and refugees coming to Australia. Previous immigration ministers have had…
A grand jury decision not to indict a police officer over the shooting death of Michael Brown has sparked protests and questions over the system’s efficacy. EPA/Michael Reynolds

Only in America: why Australia is right not to have grand juries

The idea of the grand jury is already familiar to many Australians through American television legal drama. But its profile just skyrocketed with a grand jury deciding not to indict policeman Darren Wilson…
Those who’ve had their digital privacy violated should have legal rights too. Reid Rosenberg/Flickr

It’s time for privacy invasion to be a legal wrong

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) yesterday recommended introducing new laws that would give a legal remedy for serious invasions of privacy. Unfortunately, the federal government has already…
Journalists face long jail terms for reporting information relating to ‘special intelligence operations’, as declared by ASIO, under the government’s proposed reforms. AAP/Lukas Coch

National security bills compound existing threats to media freedom

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) will publish its report on the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014 (Cth) sometime during this sitting of parliament…
For acting on a NSW Law Reform Commission review of bail laws, Greg Smith was pilloried for having gone from ‘Rambo’ in opposition to ‘marshmallow soft’ on crime as attorney-general. Daily Telegraph

Is rational law reform still possible in a shock-jock tabloid world?

The New South Wales government’s decision to “review” and amend the new Bail Act after only one month in operation illustrates worrying trends in public policymaking relevant to all jurisdictions. It raises…
Debate surrounding the law’s response to lethal domestic violence has led to significant law reform activity over the last 20 years. AAP/Dave Hunt

Laws on lethal domestic violence should be reviewed – nationally

The law’s response to lethal domestic violence in Australia raises complex issues. It requires a delicate balance to be struck between ensuring a just response to those who kill in response to prolonged…
Whatever else motivates Julian Assange’s Wikileaks to use online media to break a court suppression order, it isn’t a respect for justice. AAP/Joe Castro

Not mad, bad or unusual: WikiLeaks and suppression orders

Contrary to twittering by the digerati, the Victorian Supreme Court suppression order revealed by WikiLeaks this week isn’t unprecedented. It isn’t futile, dangerous or an egregious restriction on a supposedly…
Tabloid media invite readers to ‘be the judge’ but when acquainted with all the facts of a case the public actually leans towards lighter sentences than the judges impose. Herald Sun

Tabloid-driven sentencing policies waste public money and lives

There are fault lines in all forms of government. Democracies are as vulnerable as any other to one of them: the charm of the easy and emotionally attractive answer to multi-faceted problems. This is not…
The 153 intercepted asylum seekers are reportedly being detained at sea aboard the ACV Ocean Protector, pictured here in Hobart. Flickr/Grahame Bowland

Court to rule on intercepting and transferring asylum seekers at sea

Lawyers for 153 Sri Lankan asylum seekers on a boat intercepted by the Australian government applied for a full bench of the High Court to hear its case on August 5 at a directions hearing on Friday. Whereas…
Lawyers like George Newhouse deserve praise, not abuse, when they go to court to ensure people are protected by the rule of law. AAP/Paul Miller

Lawyers who help people protect their rights aren’t the problem here

Australia’s courts serve us well, acting independently in their application of the law. However, that doesn’t protect them from attacks for performing their legal and constitutional duties. Similarly…
In its asylum policy, Australia takes advantage of the fact that international law is not automatically absorbed into its domestic legal system. AAP/Lukas Coch

Australia’s global reputation at stake in High Court asylum case

The Australian government gave an undertaking to the High Court on Wednesday that it would not surrender or deliver the asylum seekers detained on an Australian customs vessel on the high seas to Sri Lankan…
Being arrested does not make a person guilty and deserving of punishment; that’s what a trial determines. AAP/NSW Police

Not for punishment: we need to understand bail, not review it

Courts make hundreds of bail decisions every week but we rarely hear about them. In the past month in New South Wales, however, we have heard much about three high-profile decisions granting bail to: Steven…
Reforming Victorian homicide law has been a long process, but a bill introduced today is a significant step forward. AAP/Dave Hunt

Victorian homicide law reforms ensure just responses to violence

Victorian attorney-general Robert Clark today introduced a bill into parliament that repeals the offence of defensive homicide. The bill signifies a significant step forward in ensuring just responses…
Victims of crime may feel offenders get off too lightly, but being represented at sentencing isn’t necessarily the solution. AAP/Dan Peled

Lawyers for victims of crime won’t guarantee better results

The South Australian Commissioner for Victims’ Rights, Michael O’Connell, recently called for victims of crime to have their own lawyers at the time that criminal defendants are sentenced. O’Connell’s…
The Queensland government is playing brinkmanship with the state’s legal fraternity over the appointment of Tim Carmody (centre) to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. AAP/Dan Peled

History of unchecked executive haunts Queensland in judge fight

The Queensland government’s appointment of Tim Carmody as Chief Justice of that state’s Supreme Court is, without doubt, the most controversial judicial appointment in the nation’s history. This is because…
Detainees protest in the Woomera centre in 2002: ‘Animals in Australia have more rights than we have!’ one wrote. AAP/Tom Miletic

In Australia, animals have better rights than asylum seekers

Several years ago an asylum seeker wrote a letter about his experiences at the now-decommissioned Woomera Detention Centre. This is an extract: I have been in this cage for 13 months … Why should all these…
A judgment on whether voters in Western Australia will return to the polls to re-elect their senators is due on Monday. What’s the legal background to it all? AAP/Paul Miller

In whose interest? The High Court and the WA Senate vote

This week, a lone High Court judge faced a table of 13 barristers to begin resolving the Western Australian Senate election quandary. The hearing took two days and a judgment is likely sooner or later…

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