2013 has been a massive year for the ALRC. We completed two inquiries, Age Barriers to Work and Copyright and the Digital Economy. We commenced three new inquiries: Legal barriers for people with disability; Serious Invasions of Privacy; and the Native Title Act. For a significant part of the year have been working on four inquiries at once—double the norm for the ALRC.
To assist with these new inquiries, we’ve had the pleasure of welcoming three new Commissioners: Professor Barbara McDonald (leading the Privacy Inquiry) and Professor Lee Godden (leading Native Title); and Graeme Innes AM as part-time Commissioner (assisting me with Disability). We are also very fortunate to have two standing part-time Commissioners, the Hon Justice Nye Perram and the Hon Justice John Eric Middleton, both Justices of the Federal Court.
Sadly, and with great gratitude, we have also had to farewell part-time Commissioners during 2013. The Hon Susan Ryan AO assisted the Age Barriers to Work team, and her commission with the ALRC ended when we delivered our Report to the Attorney-General in March 2013. The Hon Justice Berna Collier, who has been a part-time Commissioner with the ALRC since 2007, finished her final term with us in October. Justice Collier has contributed to the ALRC’s work across numerous inquiries, most recently attending consultations in relation to the Disability Inquiry. I am delighted that she will see this Inquiry through by serving on the Advisory Committee.
Our most imminent departure is Commissioner Jill McKeough. Professor McKeough has led the Copyright Inquiry for the past 18 months and will see the final report delivered to the Attorney-General on 30 November. Mission accomplished! Jill led the Copyright team with intelligence, purpose and good humour, and has ensured that over the course of this very complex and contested inquiry, our many stakeholders have been able to have their say and have their views deeply considered. Her commitment and adherence to the ALRC’s open and transparent processes have gained her enormous respect from all sides and I am extremely impressed with the rigour and thoroughness of the final report she and her team of legal officers have produced. I am confident it will become one of the ALRC’s most highly regarded reports. It has been a great honour to work alongside Jill during this time and we wish her the very best in whatever new adventures she undertakes.
As this is the last ALRC Brief for 2013, I want to take the opportunity to thank everyone who has contributed to the ALRC’s work this year, through making submissions, through sharing your experiences of the laws in question with us, by membership of our Advisory Committees or expert panels, or by consulting with us face to face. The ALRC’s work is greatly enhanced by your thoughtful insights and advice and we really would not be able to do our job without your generous and often heartfelt contributions. A very sincere thank you from all of us.
I hope your interest in our work will continue as we report on both the Serious Invasions of Privacy Inquiry and the Disability Inquiry next year. Our work in the Native Title area will continue throughout 2014 so it will be another very busy and interesting year for law reform. We also look forward to taking on projects that the Attorney-General, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, will have for us.
Finally I want to take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy and safe end of year and wish you all the very best for 2014.
ALRC President, Professor Rosalind Croucher