Australian law

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Applications from trade unions failed to convince Dyson Heydon to disqualify himself as royal commissioner. AAP/Joel Carrett

Heydon rejects apprehended bias claim, stays on as royal commissioner

Dyson Heydon didn't accept that merely agreeing to give the Sir Garfield Barwick lecture could create an appearance of bias. Judges and royal commissioners are allowed to have political views, he said.
Dyson Heydon prided himself throughout his judicial career on the robust independence and intellectual integrity he brought to the role. AAP/Renee Nowytarger

Bias and the ‘black-letter’ judge: who is Dyson Heydon?

How has a former judge with an avowed commitment to judicial independence and probity found himself at the centre of a very public controversy over his own impartiality?
Questions are being asked about why Man Haron Monis was free on bail, but a witch-hunt is unlikely to improve the process of deciding when to keep an accused person in custody. AAP/Dean Lewins

When bail causes outrage, don’t just blame the courts

The spotlight is on a 2013 decision to grant bail to Man Haron Monis, the man responsible for the Lindt Cafe siege a year later. It must be hoped risk-averse politicians can avoid knee-jerk responses.
The message that terrorism is exceptional and egregious will be compromised if the current citizenship revocation bill becomes law. AAP/Dan Peled

Bill relies on legal fiction of self-executing law to revoke citizenship

Multiple concerns have been raised about the citizenship-stripping bill's inattention to human rights, its differential impact upon dual and sole nationals, and its potential application to persons who commit relatively minor crimes.
The Law Reform Commission has likely given George Brandis much more than he was expecting in the review of rights-limiting laws that he asked for. AAP/Mick Tsikas

Brandis receives long list of rights-limiting laws – now can he justify them?

The federal government has to be on the back foot after a Law Reform Commission report identified that It has been the champion of many rights-limiting laws.
Joe Hockey’s successful defamation case against Fairfax Media raises questions about the extent to which politicians should be able to sue in relation to publications about their public conduct. AAP/Dan Himbrechts

Hockey v Fairfax should start the debate on defamation law reform

Hockey v Fairfax illustrates that recent legal and technological developments still pose challenges for defamation law, which has not been reformed to keep pace with these changes.
Lawyers and asylum seeker advocates are concerned that the Border Force Act will have a ‘chilling effect’ on whistleblowers working in detention centres. AAP/Eoin Blackwell

Border Force Act entrenches secrecy around Australia’s asylum seeker regime

The Australia Border Force Act further entrenches the culture of secrecy around our asylum seeker policy at the cost of open and transparent government. That is something we should be worried about.
Picking a fight with a media company should not be a politician’s priority. AAP/Nikki Short

Hockey’s defamation win is dark news for democracy and free speech

The elephant in the room in the just-concluded defamation case between Joe Hockey and Fairfax Media was the actual story being attacked. Media organisations ought to be able to instigate the debate without fear of reprisals by litigious politicians.
Karen Nettleton, whose daughter and grandchildren are currently in Syria, has a made a public plea for her family to be allowed to return to Australia. ABCTV

Even Khaled Sharrouf’s family has the right to come home

Whatever we think of the family of foreign fighter Khaled Sharrouf or their circumstances, they enjoy the right to return on the same footing as every other Australian citizen.
The government’s bill introduces three means for revoking a dual national’s Australian citizenship under amendments to the Australian Citizenship Act. AAP/Mick Tsikas

Who exactly makes the call on conduct that revokes citizenship? New bill doesn’t say

Should the bill be enacted in its current form, Australian citizenship will be able to be stripped from dual nationals by bureaucratic determination for conduct that is defined with reference to the criminal law.
South Australia’s proposed anti-bikie laws criminalise the wearing of anything that indicates association with a declared ‘criminal organisation’ on licensed premises. AAP/Eric Sands

Queensland holds lessons for states set to crack down on bikies

While South Australia's proposed anti-bikie laws may be constitutional, there are clear reasons why introducing them is at best premature – and at worst a very bad idea.
A crew of people smugglers have alleged that an Australian official paid them to return a boatload of asylum seekers to Indonesia. AAP/Customs

Is it an offence if Australians pay people smugglers to turn back?

If Australian officials did pay off people smugglers, has the government effectively joined the people smuggling trade? Has it broken any laws?
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton will have the sole power to strip dual nationals of their Australia citizenship if they are believed to be involved in terrorist activities. AAP/Dave Hunt

Explainer: what is ‘judicial review’? How does it apply to citizenship?

Simply having judicial review for the contentious power to strip citizenship from dual nationals suspected of involvement with terrorism – without independent merits review – is far from reasonable.
Discussing the rights and responsibilities of Australian citizenship is pointless without more information on the nature and justification of what is proposed. AAP/Dan Peled

Citizenship discussion paper offers a misleading take on this right

Most of the government's discussion paper is devoted to framing citizenship in a way that is conducive to its proposal to strip dual nationals involved in terrorist activities of their citizenship.

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