Reform roundup

News about the implementation of ALRC reports and recommendations between March 2011 and August 2011.

Family Violence – A National Legal Response (ALRC Report 114)

The Family Law Legislation Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2011 was introduced in Parliament by the Attorney-General, the Honourable Robert McClelland MP, on 24 March 2011. (The ALRC had made a submission to the Attorney-General’s Department in relation to the bill in October 2010.) This bill would substantially implement Recommendation 6–4 of the ALRC and NSW Law Reform Commission’s report Family Violence—A National Legal Response. The recommendation provided for a revised and broader definition of ‘family violence’ in the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth).

The Senate has referred the bill to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee for a parliamentary inquiry and report by 16 August 2011. The ALRC gave evidence regarding the recommended definition to the committee in July 2011.

In relation to the other recommendations made in Family Violence—A National Legal Response, the Attorney-General has stated that the Government is currently considering the report.

For Your Information: Australian Privacy Law and Practice (ALRC Report 108)

In the past few weeks the ALRC’s groundbreaking report into Privacy laws, For your Information: Australian Privacy Law and Practice, has been getting many mentions in the press as the government looks at the issues of the media and privacy, triggered in part by the News of the World phone-hacking scandal. Minister for Home Affairs and Justice, Brendan O’Connor, announced the release of an Issues Paper that will canvass the prospect of introducing a statutory cause of action for serious invasions of privacy—one of the ALRC’s key recommendations.

There has been a wide range of media coverage of the topic, some of which is captured in the ALRC in the Media archive.

In terms of progress towards implementation, the Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee (to which the ALRC gave evidence in November 2010) reported on the exposure draft Australian Privacy Principles in June 2011.

These exposure drafts were the first in a series of exposure draft amendments to privacy legislation to be referred to the Senate committee for consideration and public consultation. The legislation will then be consolidated in a revised Privacy Act.

Uniform Evidence Law (ALRC Report 102)

The Evidence Act 2011 No. 12 (ACT) received assent on 13 April 2011. When it commences, the ACT will have independently joined the Uniform Evidence Act scheme, along with the Commonwealth, NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, and Norfolk Island. Previously, the provisions of the Commonwealth Evidence Act 1995 applied directly to the ACT.

Privilege in Perspective—Client Legal Privilege and Federal Investigations (ALRC Report 107)

Assistant Treasurer, Bill Shorten, released a Discussion Paper on Privilege in relation to Tax Advice, on on 15 April 2011. The ALRC submitted a response to the Discussion Paper on 15 July 2011.

The submission refers to prior work undertaken by the ALRC, namely the report Privilege in Perspective—Client Legal Privilege and Federal Investigations (ALRC Report 107) and the recommendation in that report for a specific protection for tax advice in certain circumstances.

View the ALRC submission >>