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Australian David Hicks has had his conviction for providing material support to terrorist organisations overturned in the US. AAP/Nikki Short

Hicks conviction overturned – is he owed an apology or assistance?

Based on the Abbott government’s stance to date, there seems little chance of David Hicks receiving an effective remedy – at least not voluntarily
The captain of the Costa Concordia has been sentenced to 16 years' jail after the ship ran aground off the coast of Italy two years ago. EPA/Luca Zennaro

If a company causes death at sea, don’t assume that means jail time

Late last week, an Italian court sentenced the captain of the Costa Concordia cruise liner, Francesco Schettino, to 16 years' jail after finding him guilty of multiple charges of manslaughter. On January…
Detecting migration fraud remains a massive challenge for minister Peter Dutton’s Department of Immigration. AAP/Paul Miller

Australia needs resources, not more laws, to beat migration fraud

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has asked for an urgent review into the circumstances of two Sydney men, Omar Al-Kutobi and Mohammad Kiad, who are accused of plotting a terrorist attack on Australian…
The High Court decision on 157 asylum seekers detained at sea in 2014 – as well as recent legislative changes – raises concerns about the rights of asylum seekers. AAP/Lukas Coch

Australia can detain asylum seekers on the high seas, the High Court decides

On Wednesday, the High Court handed down an important judgment on the legality of the interception of asylum seeker vessels and the detention of those onboard on the high seas. It ruled, by a 4:3 majority…
It may look mundane, but this is arbitrage in action. AAP/Dan Himbrechts

Beating the Opal and other acts of everyday arbitrage

Arbitrage is a term often associated with billion dollar hedge funds and opaque finance trades. But it exists in day-to-day life in all sort of ways – from “gaming” public transport, to pitchsiding at…
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…

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