The following provides an overview of activity in relation to ALRC reports during 2010–11.
Family Violence: A National Legal Response (ALRC Report 114, 2010)
The Family Law Legislation Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2011 was introduced in Parliament by the Attorney-General, the Hon Robert McClelland on 24 March 2011.
This Bill would substantially implement Recommendation 6–4 of the ALRC and NSWLRC’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 inquiry and report by 16 August 2011. In July 2011, the ALRC gave evidence before the Committee regarding the recommended definition.
The other recommendations made in Family Violence: A National Legal Response remain under consideration by the Government.
For Your Information: Australian Privacy Law and Practice (ALRC Report 108, 2008)
On 24 June 2010, the Senate referred an exposure draft of new Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) to the Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee for inquiry and report. In January 2011, this was followed by exposure draft credit reporting provisions.
In June 2011, the Committee issued its report Exposure Drafts of Australian Privacy Amendment Legislation Part 1—Australian Privacy Principles.
These exposure drafts are the first in a series of exposure draft amendments to privacy legislation, anticipated to be referred to the Senate committee for consideration and public consultation. The legislation will then be consolidated in a revised Privacy Act.
Combating the Financing of People Smuggling and Other Measures Act 2011 received assent on 28 June 2011. The verification of identity measures within this Act implement Recommendation 57–4 of For Your Information.
The Act also amends the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 and the Privacy Act 1988 to enable reporting entities to use credit reporting data to verify the identity of their customers. It introduces a number of privacy protections to ensure that information is used only for the purpose of verifying identity. It also establishes the offences of unauthorised access to verification information, obtaining access to verification information by false pretences and unauthorised use or disclosure of verification information.
Fighting Words: A Review of Sedition Laws in Australia (ALRC Report 104, 2006)
Schedule 1 of the National Security Legislation Amendment Act 2010 implements a number of recommendations in Fighting Words, including:
- the removal of the term ‘sedition’ from federal criminal law and replacing it with references to ‘urging violence offences’, including in the heading to Part 5.1 and Division 80 of the Criminal Code (Cth) (Recommendation 2–1);
- the repeal of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) provisions concerning unlawful associations (Recommendation 4–1);
- the repeal of s 30C of the Crimes Act which contains the offence of advocating or inciting to crime (Recommendation 9–3); and
- the amendment of the treason offences in s 80.1(1)(e)–(f) of the Criminal Code to provide, among other things that conduct must ‘materially’ assist an enemy, making it clear that mere rhetoric or expression of dissent are not sufficient, and ensuring a proclamation of an enemy is not sufficient (Recommendation 11–2).
These sections of the Act received Assent and commenced on 24 November 2010.
Uniform Evidence Law (ALRC Report 102, 2006)
The Evidence Act 2011 (ACT) received assent on 13 April 2011. When it commences, the ACT will have independently joined the Uniform Evidence Act scheme. Previously, the provisions of the Commonwealth Evidence Act 1995 applied directly to the ACT.
Genes and Ingenuity: Gene Patenting and Human Health (ALRC Report 99, 2004)
The Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs Report of the Inquiry into Gene Patents was presented to Government on 26 November 2010. It recommended that the government make a number of amendments to the Patents Act 1990 in line with recommendations of ALRC Report 99. If the Government amends the Act accordingly, Genes and Ingenuity would be substantially implemented.