Past Inquiries


Royal Commissions and official inquiries

The ALRC considered a number of matters including whether there was any need to develop an alternative form or forms of Commonwealth executive inquiry, with statutory foundations, to provide more flexibility, less formality and greater cost-effectiveness than a Royal Commission.

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Secrecy laws and open government

Secrecy laws that impose obligations of confidentiality on individuals handling government information—and the prosecution of public servants for the unauthorised disclosure of such information—can sit uneasily with the Australian Government’s commitment to open and accountable government. Secrecy laws have also drawn sustained criticism on the basis that they unreasonably interfere with the right to freedom

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Sentencing of federal offenders

In July 2004, the federal Attorney-General, the Hon Philip Ruddock MP, asked the ALRC to examine the laws and practices governing sentencing of federal offenders, that is, people convicted of criminal offences set out in Commonwealth, rather than state and territory, legislation.The terms of reference directed the ALRC to consider whether Part IB of the

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In this Inquiry, the ALRC examined the offence of sedition as amended by federal Parliament in 2005.Historically, sedition law has been used to suppress political dissent, punishing speech that is critical of the established order. Stakeholders, including politicians across party lines, the media, and a Senate inquiry expressed concerns that sedition laws introduced by the

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Client legal privilege in federal investigations

In this Inquiry, the ALRC examined the application of client legal privilege (also known as legal professional privilege) within the context of federal investigations.The Inquiry was announced as part of the Australian Government’s response to the Royal Commission that investigated the conduct of the Australian Wheat Board in relation to the United Nations ‘Oil for

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Privacy law and practice

This 28-month inquiry looked at the extent to which the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and related laws continue to provide an effective framework for the protection of privacy in Australia. It resulted in the Final Report, For Your Information: Australian Privacy Law and Practice (ALRC Report 108).During the ALRC’s extensive consultations around the country, the

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Uniform Evidence Law

In July 2004, the Attorney-General of Australia asked the ALRC to examine the operation of the Evidence Act 1995 (Cth).The legislation is based on a uniform Evidence Act scheme, which was the product of a previous ALRC inquiry. At the time of the commencement of this latest Evidence inquiry, the Commonwealth, New South Wales, Tasmania,

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Gene patenting

In December 2002, the federal Attorney-General asked the ALRC to examine the laws and practices governing intellectual property rights over genetic materials and related technologies, with a particular focus on human health issues.Given the diversity of interests and concerns encompassed by these three areas, the ALRC’s task was a complex and delicate one. For example,

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Protection of Classified and Security Sensitive Information

This inquiry, which began in April 2003, examined measures to safeguard classified and security sensitive information during court or tribunal proceedings, or in the course of other investigations—including those relating to criminal prosecutions, civil suits, immigration matters or freedom of information applications.Cases involving espionage, terrorism and the leaking or misuse of national security inform­ation have

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Protection of human genetic information

The terms of reference directed the ALRC and the Australian Health Ethics Committee (AHEC) to consider, with respect to human genetic information and the samples from which such information is derived, how best to:protect privacy;protect against unfair discrimination; andensure the highest ethical standards in research and practice.The experience of the inquiry, mirrored overseas, is that

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