Current Law Journal Content
Washington & Lee Law School
Current Law Journal Content
an index to legal periodicals
Alternative Law Journal
Volume 30, Number 3, June 2005
Homophobia perpetuated: The demise of the Inquiry into the Marriage Amendment Bill 2004 (Cth)
Sandra Berns and Alan Berman
This article traces the history of Inquiry into the Marriage Amendment Bill 2004 and ensuing legislation and explores constitutional and international law issues in the context of that history. The authors argue that the aborted Inquiry and the Marriage Amendment Bill 2004 significantly weaken Australia's claim to be an egalitarian society and serve as a poignant reminder that pseudoegalitarian ideals such as 'mateship' and a 'fair go' are no protection against measures that marginalise vulnerable minorities for political gain. The resultant amendments to the Marriage Act 1961 perpetuate homophobia and marginalise gay, lesbian, transgender and intersex Australians.
Use and abuse of copyright: The 'sweat of the brow' theory gone mad
In Seven Network (Operations) Limited v Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, the Federal Court of Australia allowed copyright law to be used to punish a union for communicating with workers about proposed terms and conditions of their work. This article criticises that decision as a misapplication of copyright law - even copyright law as it stands in Australia, post Desktop Marketing Systems Pty Ltd v Telstra Corporation Ltd.
Cops and consultation: Police accountability community teams in New South Wales
Police Accountability Community Teams (PACT) were introduced in 2002 in an attempt to create consultation within local communities between residents and the local police service. The Teams were proclaimed as ensuring local area commanders were accountable to local communities and that communities would be able to help with developing solutions to reduce crime and the fear of crime. Yet over two years on from their implementation it appears that PACT has had a limited effect on local policing. This article looks at the reasons why PACT is failing and what needs to be done in order to encourage community participation in local policing.
Homelessness, human rights and social inclusion
This article considers governmental obligations in relation to the realisation of human rights and argues that the international human rights framework is useful and important in identifying, monitoring and addressing factors which contribute to homelessness and social exclusion. It also argues that policies, programs and services for the alleviation and eradication of homelessness and the promotion of social inclusion should be founded on the human rights principles of non-discrimination and participation. The article concludes that homelessness and social exclusion can be significantly reduced by governmental implementation of obligations to respect, protect and fulfil human rights.
Inciting hatred or merely engaging in religious debate? The need for religious vilification laws
Abuse and vilification of Arab Muslim Australians has increased markedly in recent years. While the harmful impact of religious hate speech on individuals and groups in Australian society has been documented, its significance continues to be dismissed or minimised in public debates of proposed religious vilification laws. The need for the introduction of legal remedies is often dismissed because religious vilification is equated with criticism of religious belief and is deemed distinguishable from racial vilification. Actual experiences of religious vilification reveal such arguments and comparisons to be ill founded and highlight a pressing need to employ both legal and non-legal means to educate the wider community, and to protect and empower the victims of religious hate speech.
Child pornography laws: The luck of the locale
The great variation between the criminal laws of the Australian States and Territories was highlighted recently by Operation Auxin, which investigated Internet distribution of child pornography to Australian residents. This article discusses the disparity in relevant criminal laws across the Australian States and Territories, attempts to make Australian criminal law more uniform, and attempts to make Australian regulation of Internet content more uniform. The article concludes that significant disparities remain, but that this is one area which really would benefit from increased uniformity of law.
The foundations of legal citizenship: Community law, access to justice and the community legal sector
Mark Rix and Scott Burrows
This article focuses on the notion of legal citizenship and its link to the services provided by the community legal sector and the community legal centres (CLCs) it comprises. CLCs are experts in 'community law', a broad area of law that encompasses many administrative, civil and family law matters that affect the daily lives of most people. These matters also affect the cohesiveness and inclusiveness of the bonds that tie people together as community members and Australian citizens. As specialists in this field, CLCs have a vital role in giving practical meaning to the notion of citizenship and especially its legal aspects. The article investigates how, in performing their routine activities, CLCs actually give substance to the notion of legal citizenship and make a significant contribution to the inclusiveness of Australian society. It also considers the implications of the deepening crisis confronting the community legal sector.
Community legal centres: Whingers or prophets?
Sebastian De Brennan
Governments often claim that no matter how much funding they devote to access to justice initiatives, groups such as community legal centres (CLCs) will ask for more. Such assertions are mischievous for they suggest that CLCs demand unrealistic or unreasonable public funds for their operations. Even a cursory analysis of the various funding submissions reveals that CLCs do not expect extravagant levels of funding at all; being amongst the first to recognise that economic realities militate against this. Recent research involving interviews with the personnel of four western Sydney CLCs seemed representative of a sector keen to arrive at constructive, and indeed economically and politically palatable, funding solutions. Far from playing the 'blame game' all four CLCs were keen to discuss ways in which stakeholders could go forward.
Holocaust era insurance claims: Compensating the unimaginable
This brief puts the Holocaust victims insurance claims process in its historical context and describes the workings of International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims.
Sport and the Law: Sex and the team player: when a team becomes a gang
This article replays and laments the sexual assault scandals that enveloped Australian football in 2004-05 and links them to the bonding and ritual humiliation central to so many men's team sports. It suggests that the iconic male 'team' celebrates a quite narrow, stereotypical conception of masculinity which, when mixed with a deeply ingrained 'booze culture' that seems to intensify when football teams play 'away', presents as an environment in which rape-supportive attitudes and beliefs are held, reinforced and flourish.
Asia-Pacific: Justice-seeking after mass violence: India and Indonesia compared
As democratic states, both India and Indonesia proudly declared the success of their respective national elections in 2004. However, the prevalence of violence in these countries, both by the state against civilians and by civilians against each other, has created an environment where violence is a part of daily life. In India and Indonesia the threat of terrorism and conflict between ethnic and religious groups is ever present and events of mass violence have been prominent in recent times. The 2002 riots in Gujurat, mass riots in Jakarta in May 1998 and the post-referendum violence in East Timor in 2001, are just a few examples. Though democracies, the separation of the political institutions of the state, the judiciary and internal security apparatus are not clearly defined in either country. As a result, for victims seeking justice after mass violence, the responses of these political and judicial systems has produced varied and mostly unsatisfactory outcomes.