In the media

Australian Privacy Commissioner accepts enforceable undertaking to enhance information security at Optus

The Australian Privacy Commissioner has accepted an enforceable undertaking from Optus, following three significant privacy incidents where the security of personal information held by Optus was compromised. This is the first enforceable undertaking made under the reforms to the Privacy Act 1988 which came into effect on 12 March 2014 (27 March 2015)

Read the full article here.

Government to override right to silence 

The federal government is restoring the ability of crime-fighting agencies to force suspected offenders to answer questions. The Australian Crime Commission and the Integrity Commissioner have special powers that ensure their officers aren't hampered by a suspect's traditional right to silence (26 March 2015)

Read the full article here.

Hold on costs in GM contamination case 

A landmark GM contamination case has for now swung in favour of an organic farmer facing a massive legal costs bill, while his adversary must reveal if he was backed by Monsanto or an industry group (25 March 2015)

Read the full article here.

Government flags app for food labelling 

The federal government is looking at developing a new app for consumers to test whether food products are really Australian made. The idea is part of a review of country-of-origin labelling prompted after the frozen berries hepatitis scare (25 March 2015)

Read the full article here.

Asylum seeker fraud laws pass Senate 

Asylum seekers will have to prove their identity to secure protection visas under new laws to tackle fraud. The amended bill places the burden of proof on the asylum seeker to prove their identity, legally defining the requirement to demonstrate nationality or citizenship (25 March 2015)

Read the full article here.

Amend data retention laws to protect client/ lawyer confidentiality

The Law Council notes the Government's intention to amend the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 (Cth) to require law enforcement and intelligence agencies to obtain a warrant to access a journalist's telecommunications data (20 March 2015)

Read the full article here.

Ombudsman says agencies need to compensate on behalf of providers

The Commonwealth Ombudsman, Colin Neave, today released a report into complaints about the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Programme, which also highlighted problems with the Scheme for Compensation for Detriment caused by Defective Administration (CDDA) (18 March 2015)

Read the full article here.

Commissioner Wilson calls for renewed debate on marriage equality

Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson has welcomed the renewed debate on reforming civil marriage to treat same-sex couples equally before the law, which is one of the most important liberal human rights principles, and it extends to civil marriage for same-sex couples (18 March 2015)

Read the full article here.

Transparency and outsourced government services

The Office of the Information Commissioner, in partnership with the Australian and New Zealand School of Government, is pleased to announce the launch of the Transparency and the Performance of Outsourced Government Services paper (17 March 2015)

Read the full article here.

New Appointment to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal

Ms Leathem takes up her position at a significant moment in its history. From 1 July 2015, the AAT, Migration Review Tribunal and Refugee Review Tribunal, and Social Security Appeals Tribunal will amalgamate, thereby removing unnecessary layers of bureaucracy and delivering an improved and simplified merits review system for all Australians (12 March 2015)

Read the full article here.

Another step to make every day easier for small business – the Family Enterprise Ombudsman

The Government has released exposure draft legislation to establish an Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman. The exposure draft legislation establishes the position and outlines the Ombudsman’s functions and powers (11 March 2015)

Read the full article here.

The exposure draft legislation and explanatory materials are available at the Treasury website for a consultation period ending 7 April 2015.

High Court backs ACMA's power to find 2Day FM broke law

The High Court has cleared the way for a Sydney radio station to face serious penalties over a prank call to a London hospital in which two presenters posed as the Queen and Prince Charles (04 March 2015)

Read the full article here.

High Court reserves decision on scope of ICAC's power in Cunneen case

The High Court is told even if the Independent Commission Against Corruption is prevented from investigating a top prosecutor, the NSW corruption watchdog's other ongoing inquiries are unlikely to be affected (04 March 2015)

Read the full article here.

National awareness campaign to reduce violence against women and children

The Commonwealth Government will develop a new national awareness campaign focused on reducing violence against women and their children. The Commonwealth will work with state and territory governments on as part of the 2015 COAG agenda to reduce violence against women and children (04 March 2015)

Read the full article here.

Regulation

Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman: Exposure Draft

The exposure draft legislation establishes the position and outlines the Ombudsman’s functions and powers. The exposure draft legislation and explanatory materials are available at the Treasury website for a consultation period ending 7 April 2015 (March 2015)

Privacy law reform report card

Today marks the first anniversary of the most significant changes to Australian privacy laws in over 25 years. On 12 March 2014, changes to the Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act) commenced.

Read more here.

New Tribunal Appointment

Attorney-General George Brandis has announced the appointment of Sian Leathem as the Registrar of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), commencing on 7 April 2015 for a period of five years (12 March 2015)

Read the media release here.

Published - articles, papers, reports

Public Governance and Resources Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2015  report

The Senate 24/03/15 - Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee report on Public Governance and Resources Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2015 [Provisions]. Tabled 24.3.15.

Read the report here

ANAO: Administration of the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement

The audit objective was to assess the effectiveness of the development and administration of the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement (5CPA), and the extent to which the 5CPA has met its objectives (05 March 2015) 

Read the report here.

ANAO: Public Sector Financial Statements: High-quality reporting through good governance and processes

While much of this Guide provides practical guidance material relating to the preparation of financial statements, it is recognised that the underpinning management and internal control regimes need to be functioning effectively if an entity’s financial statements are to comply with legislative and policy requirements, and are to be produced in a timely manner (03 March 2015)

Read the report here.

ANAO: Public Sector Audit Committees: Independent assurance and advice for Accountable Authorities

The aim of the Guide is to provide guidance on the operation of the Audit Committees of public sector entities operating under the PGPA Act. It is recognised that the large majority of Commonwealth entities have well-established audit committees (03 March 2015)

Read the report here

Cases

Assarapin v Australian Community Pharmacy Authority [2015] FCA 268

ADMINISTRATIVE LAW – whether decision of first respondent to recommend approval under s 90 of the National Health Act 1953 (Cth) involved an error of law – whether approved premises ceased to be “within a facility” within the meaning of Sch 1, Part 1, Item 124 of the National Health (Australian Community Pharmacy Authority Rules) Determination 2011 as a result of demolition of building in which approved premises were located – whether each of the applicants was a person aggrieved by the first respondent’s decision.

Read about the case here.

Australian Maritime Officers' Union v Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection [2015] FCAFC 45

ADMINISTRATIVE LAW – definition of offshore resources activity under s 9A(5) of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) informing the meaning of the migration zone – where exceptions and additions to the definition may be made by ministerial determination under s 9A(6) – where Determination excepts the content of the definition – whether Determination is ultra vires the Act

STATUTORY INTERPRETATION – whether s 9A(6) conferred on the Minister power to extinguish the content of the definition.

Read about the case here.

Pocketful of Tunes Pty Ltd v The Commonwealth of Australia [2015] ACopyT 1

COPYRIGHT – remuneration – Commonwealth use of synchronisation right – terms appropriate to compensate the applicants

COPYRIGHT – assignment of copyright – deeds of assignment – synchronisation right – right of action for infringement of that right is an incident of ownership – right to claim compensation under s 183(5) of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth).

Read about the case here.

Smith v Comcare [2015] FCAFC 24

ADMINISTRATIVE LAW – whether primary judge misconstrued Full Court’s orders – whether Administrative Appeals Tribunal conducted remittal in accordance with Full Court’s orders – whether Tribunal could adopt findings from its previous decision

Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975 (Cth) s 44

Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (Cth) ss 4, 7(4), 14, 16.

Read about the case here.

Australian Communications and Media Authority v Today FM (Sydney) Pty Ltd [2015] HCA 7

Statutes – Statutory construction – Clause 8(1)(g) of Sched 2 to Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth) ("BSA") conditioned commercial radio broadcasting licence on licensee not using broadcasting service in commission of offence against another Commonwealth Act or a law of a State or Territory – Authority's functions included suspension and cancellation of licences and taking enforcement action under BSA – Authority authorised to conduct investigations for purposes of its functions – Where, as part of investigation, Authority made finding that licensee used broadcasting service to commit offence against State law and thereby breached cl 8(1)(g) licence condition – Whether Authority had power to do so in absence of criminal court finding offence proven.

Constitutional law (Cth) – Judicial power – Where ss 10 and 12 of Australian Communications and Media Authority Act 2005 (Cth), ss 5, 170 and 178 of BSA and cl 8(1)(g) of Sched 2 to BSA authorised Authority to find licensee of commercial radio broadcasting licence breached cl 8(1)(g) licence condition and to take enforcement action under ss 141 and 143 of BSA prior to criminal court finding offence proven – Whether provisions thereby impermissibly confer judicial power on Authority.

Read about the case here.

Wood v Lee-Joe (No.3) [2015] FCCA 354

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE – Appointment of litigation guardian – whether person who purportedly on behalf of another person commenced proceedings under s.46PO(1) of the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth) (Act) should be appointed litigation guardian in relation to that other person – whether a person who has experienced intermittent and unpredictable periods of incapacity to adequately instruct the conduct of proceedings is a person in need of a litigation guardian – litigation guardian not appointed.

HUMAN RIGHTS – Person (Carer) as carer for another (Complainant) lodges a complaint of unlawful discrimination with the Australian Human Rights Commission (Commission) – complaint before the Commission terminates on 18 November 2013 – Carer commences proceedings, purportedly as carer for the Complainant, pursuant to s.46PO(1) of the Act within the 60 day period provided for by s.46PO(2) – whether Complainant should be substituted for the Carer as applicant in the proceedings commenced by the Carer – whether the Complainant should be allowed to bring her application to be substituted as the applicant in the proceedings even though 60 days have passed after the termination of the complaint for unlawful discrimination before the Commission.

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE – Whether proceedings for contempt should be dismissed on the ground the applicant has no reasonable prospects of successfully prosecuting those proceedings.

Read about the case here.

Tarrant v Australian Securities and Investments Commission [2015] FCAFC 8

ADMINISTRATIVE LAW – appeal from decision of Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) banning applicant from providing financial services – whether AAT applied the wrong test in determining sanction – application of Briginshaw standard – whether AAT gave proper weight to evidence or made findings of fact not open on the evidence – whether AAT took into account irrelevant considerations – whether procedural unfairness – whether apprehended bias.

CORPORATIONS – breaches of Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) in applicant’s provision of advice to clients and non-compliance with financial services laws.

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE – objection to competency – whether AAT erred by denying adjournment requests – duty on ASIC to act as model litigant.

Read about the case here.

United Firefighters' Union of Australia v Country Fire Authority [2015] FCAFC 1

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW – whether Country Fire Authority, established by the Country Fire Authority Act 1958 (Vic), a trading corporation within Commonwealth Constitution s 51(xx)

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW – whether Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) beyond the legislative power of the Commonwealth in its application to clauses 26, 27, 28 and 122 of the Country Fire Authority United Firefighters’ Union of Australia Operational Staff Enterprise Agreement 2010 by reason of the principle in Melbourne Corporation v The Commonwealth [1947] HCA 26; (1947) 74 CLR 31 and Re Australian Education Union, Ex parte Victoria [1995] HCA 71; (1995) 184 CLR 188

Read about the case here.

Rebelution Pty Ltd & Anor v Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police [2015] FCCA 338

Bunning v Centacare [2015] FCCA 280

HUMAN RIGHTS – Sex discrimination; PRACTICE & PROCEDURE – Application – summary dismissal of application; CONSTITUTIONAL LAW – Judicial power; STATUTORY INTERPRETATION – Legislative intention; ASSOCIATED JURISDICTION – s.18 FCCAA

Read about the case here.

Ogawa v Australian Information Commissioner [2015] FCA 152

ADMINISTRATIVE LAW – consideration of an application for an order of review under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (Cth) and/or s 39B of the Judiciary Act 1903 (Cth) concerning a decision of the Australian Information Commissioner in exercising the statutory discretion under s 41(1) of the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) to cease further investigation of four complaints made by the applicant – consideration of the nature of the statutory discretion – consideration of the conditions upon which the discretion is to be exercised – consideration of the factors relevant to the way in which the discretion is exercised

Privacy Act 1988 (Cth), ss 6, 6A, 6C, 6D, 13A, 16B, 36, 40(1), 41(1); Sch 3, cls 2, 3; Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (Cth); Judiciary Act 1903 (Cth), s 39B

Read about the case here.

Picos v Australian Federal Police - [2015] FCA 118

The Federal Court of Australia (FCA) has summarily dismissed an application for damages for sexual harassment and unlawful discrimination because the applicant had failed to satisfy the statutory preconditions in the (CTH) Australian Human Rights Commission

HUMAN RIGHTS – Where respondent seeks application for summary dismissal on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction – Whether statutory preconditions for the Court to entertain a claim of unlawful discrimination under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) satisfied – Whether communication from the Australian Human Rights Commission amounts to termination of a complaint for the purposes of s 46PO of the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth) – Where the process prescribed by the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth) is an exclusive regime for remedying contraventions of (relevantly) the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth)

Read about the case here.

Legislation

Commonwealth

Construction Industry Amendment (Protecting Witnesses) Bill 2015

Amends the Fair Work (Building Industry) Act 2012 (Fair Work (Building Industry) Act) to extend the period during which the Director of the Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate can apply to a nominated Administrative Appeals Tribunal presidential member for an examination notice by a further two years Registered  26/03/2015  Introduced Senate  25/03/2015

View the Bill here.

Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment Bill 2014

The Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment Bill 2014 (the Bill) will amend the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 (RO Act) and the Fair Work Act 2009 to ensure better governance of registered organisations (Registered 23/03/2015 Introduced Senate 19/03/20152015)

View the Bill here.

Privacy (Department of Veterans’ Affairs Contestability Review) Temporary Public Interest Determination 2015

This determination permits the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to disclose personal information to Ernst & Young for the purpose of the undertaking of a Contestability Review on behalf of the Department of Employment and the Department of Finance without breaching the Australian Privacy Principles.  Registered 25/03/2015 

View the Bill here.

Privacy (Comcare Contestability Review) Temporary Public Interest Determination 2015

Registered 16/03/2015; Tabled HR 18/03/2015 - This determination permits Comcare to disclose personal information to Ernst & Young for the purpose of the undertaking of a Contestability Review without breaching the Australian Privacy Principles

View the Bill here.

Public Governance and Resources Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2015

Amends: the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) to remove ambiguities in relation to governance arrangements – 17/03/2015 - Second reading debate; 26/03/15 Bill debated, passed

View the Bill here.

Tribunals Amalgamation Bill 2014

Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee report on the Tribunals Amalgamation Bill 2014, tabled 16/03/2015

View the Bill here.

Australian Centre for Social Cohesion Bill 2015

To establish a national, centralised body to develop and implement key preventative programs that help stop young Australians from becoming radicalised

9/02/2015 Senate: Introduced and Second Reading Moved

View the Bill here.

Civil Law and Justice Legislation Amendment Bill 2014

The Bill is an omnibus bill which will amend the following Acts: the Copyright Act 1968; the Court Security Act 2013; the Evidence Act 1995; the Family Law Act 1975; the International Arbitration Act 1974 and the Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986. 12/02/2015 Senate: Second Reading Debate, Third Reading Agreed to and Passed

View the Bill here.

Enhancing Online Safety for Children Act No 24 of 2015

An Act to enhance online safety for children. Administered by: Communications Originating Bill: Enhancing Online Safety for Children Bill 2014

Registered 27/03/2015 Date of Assent 24/03/2015

View the Bill here.

Acts and Instruments (Framework Reform) Act 2015 (Act 10/2015)

Assent 5/03/2015 Commencement 5/03/2016 Schedules 1 to 3 - A single day to be fixed by Proclamation. The Act makes a number of other amendments to improve the operation and clarity of legislative frameworks for Commonwealth Acts and instruments and contribute to the Government‘s deregulation agenda by creating administrative efficiencies across government and enhancing the public accessibility of Commonwealth laws

View the Bill here.

Privacy (Comcare Contestability Review) Temporary Public Interest Determination 2015

- F2015L00298

This determination permits Comcare to disclose personal information to Ernst & Young for the purpose of the undertaking of a Contestability Review without breaching the Australian Privacy Principles.

Registered 16/03/2015; Tabled HR 18/03/2015

View the Bill here.

Workplace Gender Equality (Matters in relation to Gender Equality Indicators) Amendment Instrument 2015 (No. 1)

Tabled senate 02/03/2015 - This instrument amends the Workplace Gender Equality (Matters in relation to Gender Equality Indicators) Instrument 2013 (No. 1) to streamline workplace gender equality reporting requirements from 1 April 2015.  

View the Bill here.