The Fragility Of Liberty In Australia

January 21, 2014

By PATRICK KEYZER, Professor of Constitutional Law.

Last week the Queensland Attorney-General, Jarrod Bleijie MP, decided not to appeal two decisions of the Queensland Court of Appeal, handed down on 6 December last year, striking down the Criminal Law Amendment (Public Interest Declarations) Act.

The Public Interest Declarations Act, enacted on 17 October 2013, was the latest in a decade of reforms to the law governing the preventive detention of serious sex offenders.

The Act authorized the Attorney-General to “request” the Governor of Queensland “in Council” to make a “public interest declaration” that a sex offender released from detention by the Queensland Supreme Court or the Queensland Court of Appeal should be returned to prison if it was in the public interest to do so.

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Totalized Information And Liberalism

December 27, 2013

By MARCUS BREEN, Professor of Communication and Media, editor of the International Journal of Technology Knowledge and Society, and member of the Institute for Law, Government and Policy.

The Economist, 16 November, 2013 editorialised on the rise and rise of surveillance, drawing attention to the remorseless rush toward “ubiquitous recording” of pretty well everything (editorial). Video cameras everywhere, defines the emergence of visual culture on a massive scale.

The magazine noted in “Every Step You Make,” that the “perfect digital memory” will become a commonplace, as will surveillance on grand and granular scales. It cited Google’s Glass computer, a mini smart-phone, worn on the wearer’s nose, as just one of many digital tools being developed. And so it goes, in the totalized information world.
There are two points to reflect on:
1. A fascist tendency towards the control society. If the totalization factor becomes inescapable, there is every reason to be concerned about the closure of the public interest. Without fail, every effort at totalizing control is operationalized by private corporations with privatizing intent. Interestingly, Tim Berners-Lee, who is credited with creating the World Wide Web, is on the record expressing concerns about this trend, suggesting that governments should do more (Berners-Lee). Ultimately, private interests have difficulty expressing any concern for the public interest. That is often the preferred definition of private concerns as they play out.
2. The promoters of Liberal politics are not always prepared to identify the ideology at play in their value system. However, The Economist made the case about the totalized information world in a manner that should be welcomed. In fact, the magazine made the point about the “deeper impulse” of liberty; “freedom has to include some right to privacy: if every move you make is being chronicled, liberty is curtailed.”
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Criminal Law Amendment (Public Interest Declarations) Act Deemed Unconstitutional

October 18, 2013

By PATRICK KEYZER, Professor of Constitutional Law.

The Criminal Law Amendment (Public Interest Declarations) Act is almost certainly unconstitutional.  The High Court has said previously that the imprisonment of a person who is judged to be dangerous can only be ordered by a court reviewing the evidence.  This unprecedented law usurps the role of the Supreme Court of Queensland and the Queensland Court of Appeal, giving the Attorney-General the judicial power to order that a person should be imprisoned.

This legislation will certainly be subjected to a constitutional challenge.

The Criminal Law Amendment (Public Interest Declarations) Bill 2013 can be accessed here: Criminal Law Amendment (Public Interest Declarations) Amendment Bill


Surveillance And Investigative Reporting: How Would Deep Throat Stay Anonymous Today?

May 7, 2013

By MARK PEARSON, Professor of Journalism and Social Media and member of the Institute for Law, Government and Policy.

We might support shield laws for journalists and bloggers but the actual practicalities of protecting confidential sources are a huge challenge for journalists in the modern era.

It’s of little value having a shield law to excuse a journalist revealing the identity of a whistleblower in court if litigants or government agencies have already been able to detect them using the surveillance regime that is ubiquitous in modern society.

It prompts the serious question: Could the Watergate investigation by the Washington Post three decades ago happen in the modern era? How long would Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward’s White House source ‘Deep Throat’ (senior FBI  official Mark Felt) remain anonymous today?

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Fifteen Minutes To Help Change The Face Of The Fitness Industry

May 3, 2013


In conjunction with Fitness Australia and Sports Medicine Australia, the AFIRM team is set to undertake a nationwide survey of the fitness industry concerning risk management practices.

Participate and Win!
The anonymous survey can be completed by fitness professionals who are either casual, part-time, full-time, managers, self-employed and/or owners.  Fitness industry professionals completing the survey go into the draw to win a return airfare, accommodation and ticket to Fitness Australia’s industry breakfast and forum in Sydney in October.  The runner-up will receive an iPad.

If you’re a fitness industry professional keen to have your say and help change the face of the Australian fitness industry, don’t delay, be part of this ground-breaking research project and complete the online survey today. Surveys must be completed by 21 June.

Click here to take the survey

Call For Uniform Shield Laws Is Worth Supporting, But Not An Easy Fix

May 1, 2013

By MARK PEARSON, Professor of Journalism and Social Media and member of the Institute for Law, Government and Policy.

Five Australian journalists face possible contempt charges for refusing to reveal the identity of their sources in court.

The journalists’ union – the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance – has quite rightly called for the introduction of uniform shield laws for journalists throughout Australia.

Australia’s attorneys-general managed to reach agreement on uniform defamation laws in 2005, and it is within their power to bring some sanity to the differing shield laws at federal level and in NSW, Victoria and Western Australia.

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New Reports Offer Insight Into Legal Risk Management In The Fitness Industry

April 30, 2013

The Institute’s recent conference in Sydney not only marked the AFIRM’s inaugural forum to discuss legal risk management in the fitness industry.  Additionally, the aptly named conference, ‘Is Your Fitness Business At Risk?’ also saw the launch of two reports tailored for the Australian Fitness industry.

Offering up-to-the-minute, industry-relevant information, the reports offer fitness industry professionals an insight into liability for workplace health and safety in the Australian fitness industry, and planning and buiding regulations affecting fitness businesses.  The reports are the second set of key deliverables as part of the AFIRM team’s ARC linkage grant: Legal risk management of adverse health outcomes and injury in the fitness industry.

To view the reports click the links below:

Author:   Joel Butler

Liability for Workplace Health and Safety in the Australian Fitness Industry

Authors:  Rebecca Richardson and Jacqui Salter

Planning and Building Regulation for Fitness Businesses