Reform round-up

Traditional Rights and Freedoms—Encroachments by Commonwealth Laws (ALRC Report 129)

On 8 November 2016, Attorney-General Senator the Hon George Brandis QC announced a parliamentary inquiry into freedom of speech. The Attorney’s media release notes: “The review of provisions of Part IIA of the Racial Discrimination Act was recommended by the Australian Law Reform Commission in its Report on Traditional Rights and Freedoms – Encroachments by Commonwealth Laws, released earlier this year.” The Terms of Reference ask the Committee to give particular consideration to the recommendations of Chapter 4 “Freedom of Speech” of the ALRC Report.

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

In August 2016, the ACT Government announced a raft of reforms to strengthen the legal response to domestic, family and sexual violence.

The reforms implement 22 recommendations made by the Australian and New South Wales Law Reform Commissions in their report Family Violence – a National Legal Response (Report 114) including:

  • introducing a preamble that speaks to the nature and features of family violence;
  • expanding the definition of family violence to expressly include a broader range of behaviours including emotional and psychological abuse and economic abuse;
  • amending the grounds for making a final order, and after-hours order, to improve access to the protection order scheme in the ACT;
  • introducing provisions to prevent self-represented respondents from themselves cross-examining applicants;
  •  making amendments to allow the complainant’s pre-recorded evidence to be tendered as evidence-in-chief in all sexual assault matters; and
  • implementing the scheme for national recognition of family violence orders as agreed by the Council of Australian Governments. 

Copyright and the Digital Economy (ALRC Report 122)

In May 2016 the Productivity Commission released its Draft Report on Intellectual Property Arrangements.

Consistent with the ALRC recommendations in its 2013 Copyright and the Digital Economy Report, the Productivity Commission is recommending Australia’s current exception for fair dealing be replaced with a broader US-style fair use exception (Draft rec 5.3). The Productivity Commission also stipulates “the Copyright Act should also specify a non-exhaustive list of illustrative exceptions, drawing on those proposed by the Australian Law Reform Commission”.

The Productivity Commission’s final report was delivered to the Government on 23 September 2016, but is yet to be tabled in Parliament.