In the media

Ian Macfarlane confirms Federal Government will act on food labelling 

A new country-of-origin food labelling system would contain a logo informing consumers the percentage of Australian grown food in the product, with the Prime Minister announcing he had tasked cabinet members to come up with a stronger, clearer system within the next month (26 February 2015)

Read the article here.

Changes to workplace gender equality reporting announced

The Government has conducted a thorough consultation process with reporting organisations, employer representatives and gender equality advocates to identify how the current gender equality reporting framework can be streamlined while still meeting the policy objectives (25 February 2015)

Read the article here.

Martin Place Siege Review released

The Commonwealth Government and the Government of New South Wales have released the Martin Place Siege Joint Commonwealth - New South Wales Review. Both governments accept all of the review’s recommendations in full.

Read the full NSW response to the Review here.

New proposals to reduce IP red tape and support Australian businesses

Helping businesses to reduce regulatory costs and simplify administrative processes is the focus of a new discussion paper, released today by the Australian Government. Administrative processes that are too complicated or too onerous impose unnecessary costs on innovative Australian businesses dealing with the IP system (20 February 2015)

Read the article here.

ACCC announces priorities and strives for tougher penalties

Cartel conduct in government procurement, truth in advertising, competition and consumer issues in the health sector and industry codes are some of the ACCC’s new compliance and enforcement priorities for 2015 (19 February 2015)

Read the article here.

Australian private drone operators are immune to current privacy laws

Australia’s Privacy Commissioner Timothy Piglrim says the Privacy Act in its current form “does not cover” the actions of individuals using drones. The increasing popularity of drones with private users in Australia has led to growing concerns around the regulation and enforcement of privacy (18 February 2015)

Read the article here.

Data retention - does the government know what it's legislating?

The Coalition Government is looking to push laws through the House of Representatives and Senate that would pave the way for vast swathes of data to be retained by certain agencies. Although the proposed legislation mentions six broad categories of data to be retained, by placing the detail into regulations, it may be possible for the scope of that is collected to be expanded (17 February 2015)

Read the article here.

Ergonomic desk change leads to lengthy public service compensation case

Australia's tax collection agency has been involved in a lengthy compensation battle after a staff member's desk and chair heights were changed without her knowing it. The initial compensation paid and ensuing 18-month legal tussle demonstrates the potential liabilities of hot-desking where multiple workers use the same work station at different times (17 February 2015)

Read the article here.

New framework for managing privacy

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) is to launch a new Privacy Management Framework in May to assist organisations develop or review their privacy programs (17 February 2015)

Read the article here.

Personal attacks on Human Rights Commissioner alarming say the legal profession's leaders

The leaders of Australia’s two peak bodies representing all Australian lawyers have taken the unusual step of issuing a joint statement because of the unprecedented attack on the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission for carrying out her statutory duties (16 February 2015)

Read the article here.

News from the Law Council of Australia

Identifying and assessing the evidence for proving native title is an involved process that can often result in lengthy timeframes for determinations. The Law Council has responded to the second consultation document, a Discussion Paper released by the ALRC, where the ALRC made a number of proposals (03 February 2015)

Read the article here.

New office key to online services

A Digital Transformation Office (DTO) is to be established within the Department of Communications so that Government services can be delivered digitally from start to finish. One of the DTO's first tasks would be to ensure people have a 'digital identity', to log in to each of their services across the Government (03 February 2015)

Read the article here.

HRLC: Human rights organisation urges Australia to remove excessive restrictions on rights

A new report to be considered by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, documents a worsening trend of laws, policies and funding arrangements being used by federal and state governments to restrict free speech and peaceful protest, and impede independence and effectiveness of non-governmental organisations (02 February 2015)

Read the article here.

See the report here.

Regulation

Changes to workplace gender equality reporting 2015

The Government will streamline reporting and remove the most onerous additional requirements that were due to be introduced from 1 April 2015. The changes will take effect in the 2015–16 reporting year.

View media release here.

Consultation - Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse Chairperson Justice Peter McClennan has released Consultation Paper - Redress and civil litigation (January 2015) (the Consultation Paper) for public comment. Comments on the Consultation Paper can be made online here. Formal written submissions should be sent to the Royal Commission by 2 March 2015.

View the paper here.

Further information from the Royal Commissionis available here.

National draft contract standard available for comment

Standards Australia is seeking public comment on a draft of the new Australian Standard AS 11000, which combines general conditions of contract standards AS 2124 and AS 4000. The public comment period ends on 27 March 2015 click here.

See the standard here.

Published - articles, papers, reports

A new system for better employment and social outcomes – final report

Department of Social Services (Australia)

This review’s purpose was to identify how to make Australia’s welfare system fairer, more effective, coherent and sustainable and encourage people to work. It recommends an integrated approach which builds on four pillars of reform (25 February 2015)

Read the report here.

Corruption in Australian sport

Australian Institute of Criminology; Samantha Bricknell

Examines some of the events that have affected the integrity of Australian sport between 2009–13 to describe the way in which corruption has manifested, the environment that has engendered the corrupt behaviour and the extent to which these incidents were primarily local events involving local actors (16 February 2015)

Read the article here.

Cases

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.

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.

Yasmin v Attorney-General of the Commonwealth of Australia [2015] FCA 91

ADMINISTRATIVE LAW – whether power to refer conviction reviewable – prerogative of mercy – whether a duty to make a decision. Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act s 7(1)

Read about the case here.

Haider v Hawaiian Punch Pty Ltd [2015] FCA 37

The respondent on 15 February 2014 committed unlawful discrimination against the applicant by using language which was reasonably likely in the circumstances to offend, insult and intimidate the applicant by reason of his race and ethnic origin, contrary to s 18C(1) of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth). The respondent pay to the applicant damages of $9,000 by way of compensation for the loss and damage suffered.

Read about the case here.

Rirratjingu Aboriginal Corporation v Northern Land Council [2015] FCA 36

ADMINISTRATIVE LAW – Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1976 (Cth) – Land Council in receipt of royalty and like payments received under s 35(4) of Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1976 (Cth) – whether Land Council had failed to make a lawful decision as required by s 35(4) for distribution of past payments – whether Land Council could no longer make a decision under s 35(4) for distribution of current payments by reason of alleged ostensible bias where one recipient of earlier distribution had commenced proceedings against Land Council alleging that its earlier decisions were unlawful and it should account to that recipient for a greater amount from earlier distributions.

Read about the case here.

Sayed v Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union [2015] FCA 27

INDUSTRIAL LAW – Adverse action – whether respondent took adverse action against applicant employee – whether the adverse action was taken for the reason of the applicant’s political opinion – whether respondent breached employment contract with applicant – whether respondent’s conduct contravened Australian Consumer Law – respondent found to have taken adverse action for the prohibited reason of the applicant’s political opinion

Commonwealth Constitution s 109; Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) Sch 2 ss 4, 18, 31, 236, 237

Read about the case here.

‘EV’ and Attorney-General’s Department [2015] AICmr 17

Freedom of Information — Whether work involved in processing request would substantially and unreasonably divert the resources of the agency from its other operations — (CTH) Freedom of Information Act 1982 ss 24, 24AA, 24AB

Read about the case here.

Public Interest Advocacy Centre and Attorney General’s Department [2015] AICmr 16

Freedom of Information — Whether disclosure would cause damage to international relations of the Commonwealth — Whether documents subject to legal professional privilege — (CTH) Freedom of Information Act 1982 ss 33, 42

Read about the case here.

Animals Australia Inc and Department of Agriculture [2015] AICmr 14

Freedom of information — Whether disclosure would disclose trade secrets or commercially valuable information —Whether disclosure would have a substantial adverse effect on the proper and efficient conduct of operations of an agency — Whether disclosure of personal information unreasonable — Whether disclosure would, or could reasonably be expected to, unreasonably affect a person adversely in respect of their lawful business affairs — Whether disclosure could reasonably be expected to prejudice the future supply of information to the Commonwealth — (CTH) Freedom of Information Act 1982 ss 11A(5), 47, 47E, 47F, 47G

Read about the case here.

Legislation

Commonwealth

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

The Bill follows on from the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Act 2014 (PGPA (C&T) Act) which implemented a range of amendments to the enabling legislation of Commonwealth entities and companies to harmonise their operation with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) from 1 July 2014.

12/02/2015 Reps: Introduced (Minister for Finance) and Second Reading Moved

View the amendment here.

Australian Centre for Social Cohesion Bill 2015

The intention of the Australian Centre for Social Cohesion Bill 2015 is to establish a national, centralised body to develop and implement key preventative programs that help stop young Australians from becoming radicalised. The Centre and its Director will focus on building social cohesion, working with communities to prevent violent extremism.

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

View the bill 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”