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A-G Announces New ALRC Inquiry

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The Australian Law Reform Commission has a new inquiry. Earlier this week, Attorney-General George Brandis QC, announced that the ALRC would review Commonwealth laws to identify provisions that unreasonably interfere with “traditional rights, freedoms and privileges”.

The inquiry will focus on laws that encroach on freedoms by:

  • reversing or shifting the burden of proof;

  • denying procedural fairness to persons affected by the exercise of public power;

  • excluding the right to claim the privilege of self-incrimination;

  • abrogating legal professional privilege;

  • applying strict or absolute liability to all physical elements of a criminal offence;

  • interfering with freedom of speech;

  • interfering with freedom of religion;

  • interfering with vested property rights;

  • interfering with freedom of association;

  • interfering with freedom of movement;

  • disregarding common law protection of personal reputation;

  • authorising the commission of a tort

  • inappropriately delegating legislative power to the Executive;

  • giving executive immunities a wide application;

  • retrospectively changing rights and obligations;

  • retrospectively extending criminal law;

  • altering criminal law practices based on the principle of a fair trial;

  • permitting an appeal from an acquittal; and

  • restricting access to the courts.

Where laws encroach on these rights, the ALRC will consider whether it is appropriate, and examine any review mechanisms or other safeguards included in the legislation.

In particular, the review will examine laws relating to commercial and corporate regulation, environmental regulation, and workplace relations.

The government has asked the Commission to deliver its report by December 2014.

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