ALRC Brief – August 2012

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From the President

I am delighted to report that the ALRC has once again been honoured in the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) Annual Report Awards, winning a Bronze Award for our hard copy report for 2010–11. This is the third consecutive year that we have been selected for an Award and I am extremely proud that the ALRC’s commitment to accountability and transparency—and quality publications—continues to be recognised in this way. I want especially to thank our corporate team for their work here.  

Also, more good news on the implementation front.  ALRC recommendations from the Family Violence and Commonwealth Laws inquiry in relation to Migration are making headway; and recommendations from the Discovery inquiry have been implemented in the Federal Court. Recommendations from our 2004 report on Gene Patenting and Human Health have now made it into legislation and substantial progress on the implementation of many of our recommendations in the 2008 Privacy report has also been made.

In June ALRC staff enjoyed a visit from Professor the Hon Gareth Evans AC QC. Professor Evans was one of the ALRC ‘originals’, the group appointed by Attorney-General Lionel Murphy in 1974 as the foundation members of the ALRC under the Chairmanship of Justice Michael Kirby. The originals included Evans, at only 30 years old and then a Senior Lecturer at Melbourne Law School; Associate Professor Gordon Hawkins, the late Sydney University criminologist; Gerard Brennan QC (as he then was), 46;  the late Professor Alex Castles (41 years old)—legal historian par excellence—and John Cain, 43 (later Premier of Victoria). Professor Evans was primarily responsible for the Commission’s 1975 report on Criminal Investigation. He shared with us remembrances of the ALRC in its early days, and an overview of his career since then reminded our legal staff of how wide-ranging and rewarding are the opportunities of a career that begins with law – and includes time in law reform, particularly at the ALRC. 

In September, some of our legal and corporate staff are travelling to Canberra to participate in the biennial conference of the Australasian Law Reform Association (ALRAC). This conference draws people from across our region and even further afield from Canada, the UK and South Africa to discuss matters of law reform and to share experiences, resources and information. Themes explored will include law reform in small jurisdictions, issues of independence and effectiveness, and the design and conduct of inquiries. The conference will feature an opening address from former Chairman of the Australian Law Reform Commission and former Justice of the High Court, the Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG. ALRC officers will deliver presentations on mapping implementation, using web technologies to broaden accessibility and reach, as well as facilitating a session for executive directors on corporate issues and planning. This conference is always stimulating and informative and helps us to develop our networks across the region and facilitate the sharing of experience and knowledge—broadening our international outreach.