LEGAL UPDATE 2011
Bail Amendment Act 2010 (Vic.) – The purpose of this act is to clarify and amend the law relating to conditions of bail, sureties and deposits, variation of bail, revocation of bail, further bail applications and appeals. The act also requires any issues relating to a person’s Aboriginality be taken into account when bail is being determined.
Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Bill 2011 (Cth) – A bill for an act about projects to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and projects to avoid emissions of greenhouse gases, and for other purposes.
Civil Procedures Act 2010 (Vic.) – The purpose of this act is to reform and modernise the laws, practice, procedure and processes relating to the resolution of civil disputes including pre-trial proceedings and civil proceedings in the Supreme Court, the County Court and the Magistrates' Court and provide for uniformity. The act also aims to simplify the language relating to civil procedure and provide an overarching purpose in relation to the conduct of civil proceedings to facilitate the just, efficient, timely and cost effective resolution of the real issue in dispute.
Civil Procedure and Legal Profession Amendment Act 2011 (Vic.) – This act amends the Civil Procedure Act 2010 to repeal Chapter 3 and other provisions relating to pre-litigation requirements. Chapter 3 of the act refers to the requirement that parties to a civil dispute must take reasonable steps to resolve the dispute and clarify the issues in dispute before taking the matter further, including writing to the other party and exchanging information.
Climate Change Act 2010 (Vic.) – The main purposes of this act (as shown in the act) are:
(a) to establish a target to reduce Victoria's greenhouse gas emissions
(b) to facilitate the consideration of climate change issues in specified areas of decision making of the Government of Victoria
(c) to promote collaboration, cooperation and innovation in the Victorian response to climate change by strengthening the role of communities and other measures
(d) to provide for a strategic response by the Government of Victoria to climate change through a Climate Change Adaptation Plan
(e) to facilitate Victoria's contribution to national and international carbon sequestration efforts
(f) to provide for the creation of forestry rights, carbon sequestration rights and soil carbon rights
(g) to provide for Forestry and Carbon Management Agreements in relation to private land and Carbon Sequestration Agreements in relation to Crown land
(h) to promote transparency and accountability by providing basic, accessible information to the Victorian community on climate change.
Combating the Financing of People Smuggling and Other Measures Bill 2011 (Cth) – A bill for an act to amend the Anti Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing Act 2006, and for related purposes.
Courts Legislation Miscellaneous Amendments Act 2010 (Vic.) – This act provides for the office of judicial registrar in various courts.
Crimes Amendment (Bullying) Bill 2011 (Vic.) – The aim of this bill will be to amend the Crimes Act 1958 in relation to the offence of stalking. The offence of stalking will be increased to include acts of bullying such as making threats to the victim, using abusive or offensive words to or in the presence of the victim, performing abusive or offensive acts in the presence of the victim and directing abusive or offensive acts towards the victim. The bill will also expand the definition of mental harm to include psychological harm and suicidal thoughts.
Crimes Amendment (Working With Children—Criminal History) Act 2010 (Cth) – An act to amend the Crimes Act 1914, and for related purposes, in particular in relation to criminal history checks for people working with children.
Crimes Legislation Amendment Act 2010 (Vic.) – This act, among other things, amends the Crimes Act 1958 to restructure the maximum penalties for the offence of sexual penetration of a child under the age of 16.
Crimes Legislation Amendment (Serious and Organised Crime) Bill 2009 (Cth) – An act to amend various acts relating to the enforcement of the criminal law, and for other purposes, relating to proceeds of crime and bankruptcy.
Crimes Legislation Amendment (Serious and Organised Crime) Act (No. 2) 2010 (Cth) – A further act to amend various acts relating to the enforcement of the criminal law, relating to proceeds of crime.
Crimes Legislation Amendment (Sexual Offences Against Children) Act 2010 (Cth) – An act to amend the criminal law relating to the definition of sexual offences against children.
Crimes Legislation Amendment (Torture Prohibition and Death Penalty Abolition) Act 2010 (Cth) – An act to amend the Criminal Code Act 1995 and the Death Penalty Abolition Act 1973, and for related purposes. Under this act torture is defined and prohibited. It is stated that the death penalty must not be used.
The Supreme Court announced in October 2010 that changes would be made to the management of criminal appeals. These changes are intended to reduce delays by up to 50 per cent. Funding will be provided by the Victorian Government for a specialist registrar of criminal appeals and four specialist criminal lawyers to manage appeals and prepare them for hearing.
Domestic Animals Amendment (Dangerous Dogs) Act 2010 (Vic.) – This act makes further provision for the registration of restricted breed dogs and amends the definition of a restricted breed dog, as well as increasing certain penalties.
Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic.) – This act re-enacts and extends the law relating to equal opportunity and protection against discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation and amends the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 in relation to dispute resolution.
Fair Trading Amendment (Australian Consumer Law) Act 2010 (Vic.) – The purpose of this act is to apply the Australian Consumer Law as the law of Victoria and to repeal the Fair Trading Act 1999 (Vic.).
Fair Trading Amendment (Unfair Contract Terms) Act 2010 (Vic.) – The purpose of this act is to amend the Fair Trading Act 1999 in relation to unfair contract terms. A term of a consumer contract is unfair if it would cause a significant imbalance in the parties' rights and obligations arising under the contract, it is not reasonably necessary in order to protect the legitimate interests of the party who would be advantaged by the term and it would cause detriment to a party if it were to be applied or relied on.
Fair Work Act 2010 (Cth) – From 1 January 2010, state referrals of industrial relations powers from New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania to the Commonwealth have created a national workplace relations system which now includes all private sector employment other than employment by non-constitutional corporations in WA. All employment in Victoria, Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory was already under the national workplace relations system.
Employers and employees other than in WA that were previously covered by state industrial relations systems because the employer is not a constitutional corporation, are now covered by the national industrial relations system established by the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). As part of the changes, some public sector and local government employment previously under the national system is now covered by state systems.
Employers and employees in the national system have the same workplace rights and obligations, regardless of the state they work in. Features of the national industrial relations system include:
a set of 10 minimum National Employment Standards (NES)
modern awards that apply nationally for specific industries and occupations
a national minimum wage order (where it applies)
enterprise bargaining, and
protection from unfair dismissal.
Modern awards, together with the NES and the national minimum wage order, make up a new safety net for employees covered by the national workplace relations system.
Changes affecting FWA from 1 January 2010
From 1 January 2010 a number of significant changes take place in the national workplace relations system. The changes include:
the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) and the Australian Industrial Registry (Registry) cease operations on 31 December 2009
Fair Work Australia (FWA) assumes all remaining functions of the AIRC and the Registry on 1 January 2010
modern awards and the new National Employment Standards (NES) take effect on 1 January 2010
the better off overall test replaces the no-disadvantage test for assessing enterprise agreements made from 1 January 2010
applications for approval of enterprise agreements must be lodged with FWA within 14 days of the agreement being made
there are no longer any legislative provisions for the making of individual agreements.
Nationally—covered by the national industrial relations system are all employment by constitutional corporations, and in:
Victoria, ACT & NT—all other employment
NSW, Qld & SA—all other private sector employment (from 1 January 2010)
Tasmania—all other private sector and local government employment (from 1 January 2010).
Not covered by the national industrial relations system are:
Western Australia—state public sector and local government employment and employment by non-constitutional corporations in the private sector
NSW, Qld & SA—state public sector and local government employment
Tasmania—state public sector employment.
Employers and employees not covered by the national industrial relations system will remain covered by the applicable state industrial relations system. However, national entitlements to unpaid parental leave and notice of termination or payment in lieu of notice, as well as protection from unlawful termination of employment, do extend to employees who remain covered by a state industrial relations system i.e. non-national system employees. (Copied from Fair Work Australia)
Family Assistance and Other Legislation Amendment (Child Care and Other Measures) Bill 2011 (Cth) – A bill for an act to amend the law relating to family assistance, social security and student assistance, and for related purposes.
Federal Magistrates Court – The Federal Magistrates Court was going to be phased out. It was announced in February 2010 that the Federal Magistrates Court would be retained and will continue to hear federal law matters including Family Law cases. It has been proposed that a Military Court of Australia be established.
Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Bill 2010 (Cth) – This Bill, together with the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) (Consequential Provisions) Bill 2010 (Cth), implements the legislative elements of Australia’s Human Rights Framework announced by the Government in April 2010. The Human Rights Framework outlines a range of measures to further protect and promote human rights in Australia. It reflects the key recommendations of the National Human Rights Consultation Committee which undertook extensive public consultation on the promotion and protection of human rights in Australia.
Part 2 of the Bill establishes the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights and sets out the functions and administrative arrangements for the Committee. The Committee will have the functions of examining acts, bills and legislative instruments for compatibility with Australia’s human rights obligations and reporting to both Houses of Parliament. It will also inquire into, and report to Parliament, on matters relating to human rights referred to it by the Attorney-General.
Part 3 of the Bill introduces a requirement for statements of compatibility to be prepared for all bills and legislative instruments subject to disallowance. A statement of compatibility must assess whether the bill or legislative instrument is compatible with the human rights in the seven core United Nations human rights treaties.
The minister or private member or senator responsible for the bill will be required to prepare and present to parliament a statement of compatibility.
Juries Amendment Reform Act 2010 (Vic.) – The purpose of this act is to amend the Juries Act 2000 to provide that remuneration and allowances for jury service are paid out of the Consolidated Fund and increase community representation on juries by reducing the categories of occupations which render a person ineligible for jury service. The period after ceasing any of those occupations during which a person is ineligible for jury services is also reduced from 10 years to five years. As a result of this lawyers who have not practised in the last five years will become eligible for jury service. Trainee lawyers, including articled clerks, will still be ineligible for jury service. People employed by lawyers, but whose work is not closely related to legal practice, will be eligible for jury service. This will include administrative staff and human resources staff.
Justice Legislation Amendment Act 2010 (Vic.) – This act makes provisions in relation to aggregate sentences of imprisonment and aggregate fines imposed by the Supreme Court or the County Court for summary offences. It repeals the offence for the breach of a combined custody and treatment order an intensive correction order, a co0mmunity-based order and an adjourned undertaking. The act also amends the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic.) in relation to the imposition of less severe sentences if an offender gives an undertaking to assist law enforcement authorities. The act also amends the Criminal Procedure Act 2009 in relation to summary case conferences and enables the transfer of a charge for an indictable offence from the Supreme Court or the County Court to the Children’s Court.
Justice Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 (Vic.) – This is a bill for an act to amend the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998 to provide for persons to be barred from licensed premises and their vicinity in certain circumstances, to amend the Summary Offences Act 1966 to increase the penalties for being drunk and disorderly and to make other amendments to those acts.
Justice Legislation Amendment (Victims of Crime Assistance and Other Matters) Act 2010 (Vic.) – This act amends various acts in relation to victim impact statements and allows victim impact statements to include material such as drawings, photographs or poems.
Magistrates' Court Amendment (Assessment and Referral Court List) Act 2010 (Vic.) – This act establishes the Assessment and Referral Court List in the Magistrates' Court for a trial period. Serious violence offences, violence offences and sexual offences are referred to this list. This list can at any time, convene a hearing to receive reports on an accused's progress and compliance with his or her individual support plan, adjust, amend or vary any individual support plan of an accused, remove a criminal proceeding from the Assessment and Referral Court List or discharge an accused or indicate an intention to discharge the accused.
National Consumer Credit Protection Amendment Act 2010 (Cth) – An act to amend the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009, and for related purposes in relation to referral of powers from the states.
National Consumer Credit Protection Amendment (Home Loans and Credit Cards) Bill 2011 (Cth) – A bill for an act to amend the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009, and for related purposes, in particular in relation to credit providers supplying a key facts sheet to people seeking credit.
Parliamentary Committees Amendment Act 2011 (Vic.) – The purpose of this act is to amend the Parliamentary Committees Act 2003 to change the membership and quorum requirements of Joint Investigatory Committees.
Police Regulation Amendment (Protective Services Officers) Act 2011 (Vic.) – The purpose of this act is to amend the Police Regulation Act 1958 to make provision for the appointment of additional protective services officers to perform further functions. This act does not come into operation under after 1 January 2012.
Public Holidays Amendment Bill 2011 (Vic.) – The purpose of this bill is to provide that non-metropolitan Councils may nominate alternative public holiday arrangements in lieu of Melbourne 5 Cup Day.
Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2010 (Vic.) – This act increases regulation of rooming houses to improve standards, including further enforcement powers, increases fire safety and emergency response management of caravan parks and movable dwellings, increases penalties for offences under the act and regulates residential tenancy databases through the adoption of nationally consistent provisions.
Residential Tenancies Amendment (Public Housing) Bill 2011 (Vic.) – The purpose of this act is to amend the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 to provide additional grounds on which the Director of Housing may give a tenant a notice to vacate and for other purposes.
Road Safety Amendment (Hoon Driving) Act 2010 (Vic.) – This act strengthens the application of the motor vehicle impoundment, immobilisation and forfeiture provisions in relation to serious offences and extends the time of impoundment. It also provides for the extinguishing of interests in a motor vehicle that is forfeited or abandoned after impoundment in order to facilitate its sale or disposal.
Sentencing Amendment Act 2010 (Vic.) – This act amends the Sentencing Act 1991, repeals suspended sentences for serious offences and provides for new intensive correction management orders.
Sentencing Further Amendment Bill 2010 (Vic.) – The main aim of this bill is to amend the Sentencing Amendment Act 2010 to abolish suspended sentences for certain offences and to amend the Sentencing Act 1991 to make further provision for the membership of the Sentencing Advisory Council. (As at 6 February 2010 this bill had not been passed).
Sex and Age Discrimination Legislation Amendment Bill 2010 (Cth) – This is a bill for an act to create an Age Discrimination Commissioner to investigate complaints in relation to older Australians and to advocate on their behalf. The bill will also extend protection against sexual harassment and discrimination in relation to family responsibilities in areas of employment.
Shop Trading Reform Amendment (Easter Sunday) Act 2011 (Vic.) – The purpose of this act is to remove shop trading restrictions on Easter Sunday, to repeal section 5A of the Shop Trading Reform Act 1996, which provides for Easter Sunday exemptions and to make other minor amendments.
Tax Laws Amendment (Temporary Flood Reconstruction Levy) Bill 2011 (Cth) – A bill for an act to amend the law relating to taxation for the purposes of a temporary flood reconstruction levy.
Technology in the Supreme Court – Chief Justice Marilyn Warren has asked the judiciary to use technology to achieve more consistency in sentencing. She will publish online judgment summaries and a weekly court newspaper. She will also appoint a qualified court commentator to make the public more aware of the reasoning behind judges’ rulings.
Trade Practices Amendment (Australian Consumer Law) Act (No. 1) 2010 (Cth) – An act to amend the Trade Practices Act 1974 and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001, and for other purposes. This act sets out the Australian Consumer Law and related to unfair contracts terms. The Australian Consumer Law applies to the states as a law of the states and territories.
William Cooper Justice Centre – This is a multi-jurisdictional court complex containing six new courtrooms plus rooms for mediation. It is on the site of the old County Court building and will provide more space for the Supreme Court and Children’s Court. It will also increase the capacity to manage court caseloads. The Centre was named after William Cooper, a Yorta Yorta man who was born in 1860 and who founded the Australian Aborigines’ League.
Working with Children Amendment Act 2010 (Vic.) – This act relates to applications for working with children checks, the issue, suspension and revocation of assessment notices and offences under the Working with Children Act 2005.