Since the 1970s, the ALRC has played an important educative role in the processes of law reform internationally. This engagement contributes to regional goodwill and to Australia’s leadership role in democratic institution-building, particularly within Australasia.
In recent years, ALRC engagement with overseas law reform has, for budgetary reasons, become more constrained. However, the ALRC still offers assistance to developing law reform bodies, by way of hosting placements to international law reform officers who often require training in the processes of policy development and law reform, as well as in consultation strategies and managing stakeholder engagement, particularly of government and parliamentary stakeholders.
On 10 October 2012, the ALRC welcomed Ms Hai-Yuean Tualima from the Samoa Law Reform Commission, to discuss ALRC processes and share information and experiences of consultation and stakeholder management. Ms Tualima was able to attend and observe a consultation with the Copyright Inquiry team during her visit.
On 11 December 2012, the ALRC welcomed a delegation from Vietnam specifically to discuss the ALRC’s 2006 Sedition Inquiry and Report.
On 7 March 2013, the ALRC hosted a delegation from the Vietnam Supreme People’s Court to discuss law reform processes and our relationship to the courts.
In May 2013, the ALRC welcomed Philip Kanairara and Derek Futaiasi, legal officers with the Solomon Islands Law Reform Commission, for a three-week secondment. During this time Mr Kanairara and Mr Futaiasi were able to participate in the Inquiry teams and to shadow our legal officers undertaking research, as well as to participate in formal learning sessions on policy development, research and writing for law reform, consultation strategies, and corporate governance. ALRC staff also benefitted from the exchange of information and experience with many interesting examples of difference being discussed as well as finding the similarities in our law reform processes.
Australasian Law Reform Agencies Conference (ALRAC)
The Australasian Law Reform Agencies Conference was held from 12–14 September 2012 in Canberra at the Australian National University. Entitled, Conversations about Law Reform: Sharing Knowledge and Experience, this conference was committed to ensuring that participants had the opportunity to engage in discussion, and to share information, experiences and ideas.
Sixty-two participants from law reform agencies across the Pacific attended along with delegates from as far afield as Scotland, Canada and Kenya. Themes explored included: law reform in small jurisdictions; issues of independence and effectiveness; professional cultures in law reform—bureaucrats, the academy and the judiciary; gender issues in law reform; and the design and conduct of inquiries. The ALRC President and Executive Director attended along with two Legal Officers and the Online Communications Manager, and shared our experience on matters such as how to measure effectiveness, consultation strategies, and governance.
The Opening Address was given by the Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, founding President of the Australian Law Reform Commission and former Justice of the High Court. Mr Kirby spoke of the history of ALRAC, from its inception in 1973 as an initiative of the NSW Law Reform Commission through to the present, and canvassed the developing notions of law reform throughout this time and the cooperation between law reform agencies both internationally and within Australia.
A reception was hosted by the Governor General, Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce, at Government House. Ms Bryce spoke about the importance of law reform to the democratic tradition.
The conference provided an extremely valuable opportunity to exchange ideas and share experiences in law reform. It also afforded an opportunity for the ALRC to consult with colleagues on best practice and to continue to build productive working relationships across the international law reform community.
The next ALRAC will be held in Samoa on 27–29 May 2014.