The last few months have probably been some of the busiest since I joined the ALRC. We are currently working on three inquiries and, as I write, we have the Native Title team consulting in Brisbane and heading off to Perth next week, the Privacy team putting the finishing touches to their Discussion paper, due out at the end of the week, and the Disability team heading off to Perth this afternoon with me and Graeme Innes, part-time Commissioner, for extensive consultations on the Equality Capacity and Disability Inquiry. Yesterday I was also at the Gold Coast participating in a ‘Q & A’ with Tony Jones at an event put on by the Conference of Major Superannuation Funds (CMSF). The panel were given the topic ‘Tackling the Age Quake’, looking at the policy challenges of the ageing population and what the financial services sector should be doing. I was able to contribute from the perspective of our work in the Age Barriers inquiry. Also on the panel were Susan Ryan, who had been a part-time Commissioner of the ALRC for that inquiry, and Professor John Piggott, who had been on the Advisory Committee. Then in the afternoon I headed up to Brisbane for an industry roundtable hosted by Herbert Smith Freehills with a dozen key industry representatives involved in the Native Title area. We have just released our Issues paper for the Native Title Inquiry and had an excellent first discussion with representatives from BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Santos, QGC, Telstra, Harcourt Petroleum and the NSW Minerals Council. The team has also been meeting with Indigenous Native Title Groups and the state government while they are in Brisbane. The Privacy team will also be heading off on consultations around the country next month and we will also start our work on the new Inquiry to identify provisions that unreasonably encroach upon traditional rights, freedoms and privileges—the Freedoms Inquiry we have called it for now. So there is not a dull, nor a spare, moment at the Commission, and I hope you enjoy catching up with all the detail in the articles that follow.
For those interested in the topic of law reform more generally, you may be interested in a new publication, Reforming Law Reform—Perspectives from Hong Kong and Beyond, published by Hong Kong University Press. It is an excellent collection with some great perspectives across the common law world. I have a review essay about it coming out in Legal Studies in the UK next month.