HRLC: High Court hands down judgment on high seas detention of 157 Tamils

In a 4:3 split decision, the High Court has found that the Australian Government's secretive high seas detention of 157 Tamil asylum seekers on board a customs vessel was not a breach of Australian domestic law. The Human Rights Law Centre's Executive Director said the case had succeeded in bringing vital legal scrutiny and transparency to the government's actions at sea (28 January 2015)

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Establishment of a Digital Transformation Office

The Commonwealth Government will establish a Digital Transformation Office (DTO) within the Department of Communications so that government services can be delivered digitally from start to finish and better serve the needs of citizens and businesses. The DTO will operate more like a start-up than a traditional government agency, focussing on end-user needs in developing digital services (25 January 2015)

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Attorney-General George Brandis says metadata limits jeopardise criminal investigations

Both the AFP and ASIO have urgently advised  the Attorney-General that inconsistent retention, and even unavailability, of this data is hampering investigations and, in some tragic cases, preventing perpetrators from being brought to justice (25 January 2015)

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FWA verdict: Public servants cannot demand discretionary leave

Australian Public Service bosses have the legal right to refuse demands from staff for paid "discretionary" time off work, the industrial tribunal has ruled. The Fair Work Commission made the ruling in the case of a federal public servant's legal bid to force his bosses to give him months of "discretionary" leave (23 January 2015)

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Government found guilty over racial discrimination case at Canberra Hospital

An interim court decision has found the ACT government guilty of racial discrimination after rejecting the internship application of a Chinese migrant. ACAT senior member said the ACT government had "both directly and indirectly discriminated against him by reason of his race" by automatically downgrading his application status (19 January 2015)

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Govts urged to give intellectually disabled people more say in decision-making in 2015

The federal and state governments are being urged to give people with intellectual disabilities more say in the design of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Advocates for the disabled say their call is supported by recent recommendations from the Australian Law Reform Commission (16 January 2015)

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Comcare to take legal action against Airservices Australia over fatal Darwin fire truck crash

The Federal Government's workplace safety watchdog says it intends to prosecute Airservices Australia over a 2011 crash in Darwin that killed three prominent architects. Coroner highlighted 'major shortcomings' in the policies, operating procedures and training protocols of Airservices Australia (14 January 2015)

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IPA: Charlie Hebdo shows why Section 18C must go

The Abbott government must repeal section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act in light of the recent attacks on Charlie Hebdo," says the Director of the Legal Rights Project at the IPA. Section 18C was the provision used against News Corp Australia journalist Andrew Bolt in 2011 for two columns he had published in 2009 (13 January 2015)

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ALRC report on legal capacity, disability and equality before the law

The Inquiry covered not only laws relating directly to people with a disability, such as civil mental health laws and guardianship laws, but all Commonwealth laws that directly or indirectly affect the exercise of legal capacity by people with disability, including criminal law, anti-discrimination law, social security law, and family law (13 January 2015)

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Ombudsman says agencies should take responsibility for mistakes

The Commonwealth Ombudsman has released an abridged version of his report Avoiding, acknowledging and fixing mistakes: investigation of a complaint about the Australian Community Pharmacy Authority. The investigation resulted in broader lessons for government agencies about sharing information between agencies that jointly administer a program, and for taking responsibility for fixing mistakes (06 January 2015)

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Regulation

High Court New Practice Direction - Applications for Leave, Special Leave and Removal

The High Court has released Practice Direction No 1 of 2015 - Authorities (2 January 2015)

SMOS reminder: Oversight of information, advertising campaigns by Australian Government departments, agencies

The Abbott Government will retain the oversight mechanisms established by the former government to review the provision of public information by government departments and agencies. Proposed campaigns with expenditure in excess of $250,000 will continue to be considered by an Independent Communications Committee (ICC).

Updated Guidelines on Information and Advertising Campaigns by non-corporate Commonwealth entities will be issued to replace the Short-term Interim Guidelines that have been in place since the 2013 election. These changes to the campaign advertising framework are due to take effect on 1 February 2015

Read the media release here.

Australian Public Sector Anti-Corruption Conference: APSACC 2015

The fifth Australian Public Sector Anti-Corruption Conference (APSACC) will be held 17 to 19 November 2015 at the Brisbane Convention and Entertainment Centre, South Bank.

Learn more here.

OAIC: Guide to securing personal information

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s Guide to securing personal information is a resource to help agencies and organisations to meet their obligations under the Australian Privacy Principles to take reasonable steps to protect personal information (19 January 2015)

View the Guide here.

Traditional rights and freedoms: encroachments by Commonwealth laws (IP46) - public submission

Submissions close 27 February 2015. Hosted by the Australian Law Reform Commission

Learn more here.

Cases

‘EK’ and Department of Human Services [2015] AICmr 6

Freedom of Information —Whether disclosure would have a substantial adverse effect on the management or assessment of personnel —Whether contrary to public interest to release conditionally exempt documents — (CTH) Freedom of Information Act 1982 ss 11A(5), 47E

Read about the case here.

Wood and Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet [2014] AICmr 150

Freedom of information – Whether disclosure of a document would reveal a Cabinet deliberation or decision — Whether documents subject to legal professional privilege —Whether documents contain deliberative matter prepared for a deliberative process — Whether disclosure would be contrary to the public interest — (CTH) Freedom of Information Act 1982 ss 11A(5), 22, 34, 42, 47C

Read about the case here.

Mulligan v Virgin Australia Airlines Pty Ltd [2015] FCCA 157

HUMAN RIGHTS – Disability Discrimination Act – whether an assistance animal needed to be trained by an approved organisation – whether the Civil Aviation Regulations prescribed the definition of assistance animal. Acts Interpretation Act 1901

Read about the case here.

Hird v Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (includes Summary) [2015] FCAFC 7

ADMINISTRATIVE LAW – Judicial review – Investigation conducted by Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority in cooperation with Australian Football League – Whether “joint” or cooperative investigation ultra vires the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Act 2006 (Cth), Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Regulations 2006 (Cth) and NAD Scheme – Investigation authorised by legislative regime – ASADA entitled to rely on use of compulsory powers by AFL – Whether investigation conducted for improper purposes – Investigation conducted for lawful purpose of investigating possible anti-doping rule violations – Whether NAD Scheme personal information unlawfully disclosed at interviews – No unlawful disclosure as information given directly by interviewees to both ASADA and AFL – Whether notices issued under cl 4.07A of NAD Scheme invalid – Notices not based on information unlawfully obtained – Appeal dismissed.

STATUTORY INTERPRETATION – Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Act 2006 (Cth), Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Regulations 2006 (Cth) and NAD Scheme – Relevance of international anti-doping instruments – Operation of cl 2.04(j) of NAD Scheme and contractual regime of AFL – Scope and operation of power in s 22 of Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Act 2009 (Cth) “to do all things necessary or convenient”.

PRIVILEGE – Whether CEO unlawfully facilitated abrogation of interviewees’ common law rights against self-incrimination and exposure to civil penalties – Appellant and players accepted contractual arrangement with AFL requiring cooperation with investigation by ASADA – Appellant and players legally represented and claimed no privilege.

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE – Whether appellant able to challenge use of compulsory powers by AFL on appeal – Not in issue before primary judge – Appellant bound by conduct of case at trial.

Judiciary Act 1903 (Cth)

Read about the case here.

Legislation

Commonwealth

Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Legislation Amendment (Office of the Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate) Rule 2015

This Rule amends the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Rule 2014 and the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014 (30 January 2015) 

View the amendment here.   

Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Legislation Amendment Rule 2014 (No. 2)

This instrument amends the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Rule 2014 and the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014 (09 January 2015)

View the amendment here.

"The material contained in this publication is no more than general comment. Readers should not act on the basis of the material without taking professional advice relating to their particular circumstances”