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  Alternative Law Journal   (Australia)
  Volume 32, Number 1, March 2007
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  • Articles
  • The 'delicate plant' of free speech needs water: Coleman v Australia
        John Chesterman
                                                                                               +cite        
        The legal experiences of Australian agitator Patrick Coleman show the fragility of freedom of speech in Australia. Coleman was imprisoned as a result of giving a political address in a downtown mall. After exhausting all domestic avenues of appeal, Coleman took his case to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, which found that the application of the local by-law in question amounted to a breach by Australia of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
  • Freedom from disclosure of information
        Anthony Gray
                                                                                               +cite        
        This article considers the right of Australians to access information held by the federal government, in light of a recent High Court decision. The author expresses concern that the decision unduly narrows citizens' access rights, potentially undermining principles of representative government by allowing FOI rights to be easily removed.
  • Customary law: Sex with under-age 'promised wives'
        Ken Brown
                                                                                               +cite        
        This article examines two recent decisions in the Northern Territory on the sentencing of middle-aged male offenders charged with unlawful under-age sex with 'promised wives'. The author argues that some judicial officers have given too much weight to claims made by defendants seeking to justify their actions by reference to cultural factors and traditional beliefs and not enough weight to the feelings of, or harm done, to child victims or the expressed need of the relevant legislation and international human rights charters to protect young girls.
  • Trafficking in people: The Australian Government's response
        Sarah Steele
                                                                                               +cite        
        This article discusses the Australian Government's legislative and policy responses to people trafficking since the 1990s. The author describes recent legislative amendments and policy initiatives and identifies issues with these developments. In particular, the author examines the government's locating of human trafficking as an organised cross-border criminal activity, and asks if this narrow approach to the phenomenon is appropriate.
  • The rights and dignity of persons with disabilities: A United Nations convention
        Rosemary Kayess and Ben Fogarty
                                                                                               +cite        
        An overview of the history of the recently-adopted UN Convention on the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities, and an examination of some of its more contentious Articles.
  • A second language speaker in court: Linguistic phenomena threatening justice
        Megumi Ogawa
                                                                                               +cite        
        Justice requires that all parties involved in a case must be equally treated before the law without any disadvantage for any reason. Where legal proceedings involve a second language speaker, a key to secure justice is to understand disadvantages that are triggered by the command of the second language. This article analyses disadvantages in court of a second language speaker. The article also introduces some examples of ongoing efforts by the court to mitigate these disadvantages.
  • Complaints against police behaviour in Flemington, Victoria, 2006
        Tamar Hopkins
                                                                                               +cite        
        To highlight some of the systemic problems facing their clients, in June 2006 the Flemington & Kensington Community Legal Centre made a submission to the Ethical Standards Department of the Victoria Police. This article is an edited version of that submission.
  • Creating a prosperous and fair Australia: The role of consumer advocacy
        Chris Field
                                                                                               +cite        
        This article responds to criticism made of a report authored by Chris Field (and published by Consumer Affairs Victoria), Consumer Advocacy in Victoria, Research Paper No 7. It also responds more broadly to so-called social democratic critiques of deregulation, privatisation and competition policy. The article concludes that competition is, in fact, beneficial for consumers and that social democracy, social cohesion and social justice are enhanced by economic success.

  • Briefs
  • Aboriginal customary law: The challenge of recognition
        Tatum Hands
                                                                                               +cite        
        The recognition of Aboriginal customary law in Australia has been threatened by federal legislation that precludes customary law or cultural factors to be taken into account when sentencing an Indigenous offender. This brief discusses the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia's recent inquiry into customary law and the challenges that lie ahead for the implementation of recommendations to improve recognition of Aboriginal law and culture in that state.
  • Communities make the case for Community Legal Services
        Peter Noble
                                                                                               +cite        
        Recent funding initiatives of the Bracks government in the Victorian CLC sector have not occurred within a community development or advocacy vacuum. Instead, they have been responsive to proactive initiatives by communities or existing community legal centres to identify locales of disadvantage and corresponding unmet legal need.
  • Changes to South Australia's discrimination regime
        Anne Hewitt
                                                                                               +cite        
        South Australia's Parliament is currently considering long awaited amendments to the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (SA). If passed, they will significantly extend the protections against discrimination offered in South Australia. In particular, the legislation will be extended to cover discrimination based on marital status; identity of a spouse; pregnancy; association with a child; caring responsibilities; profession, trade or lawful occupation; area of residence; mental illness; and asymptomatic diseases (such as HIV). A new prohibition on discrimination based on religious dress and appearance has also been proposed. However, as a result of lobbying from the state's Christian majority, there remains no prohibition on discrimination based on religious belief or practice.

  • Columns
  • Asia-Pacific: Banking in the heart of darkness
        Charles Berger
                                                                                               +cite        
        This column questions a financial institution's responsibility for the consequences of the activities that it finances.
  • Stickybeak: Justice Murray Wilcox - No stranger to controversy
        Tess Burton
                                                                                               +cite        
        Justice Murray Wilcox retired from the Federal Court in October 2006 after 22 years on the bench. His final decision was the interim judgment in the Single Noongar case. However Justice Wilcox has presided over many other historic cases including the dispute between the Maritime Union of Australia and Patrick Stevedores. He spoke with Tess Burton, a native title lawyer from Western Australia.