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LIV advocacy

Every Issue

Cite as: (2004) 78(10) LIJ, p. 12

To represent the interests of members and the wider community, the Law Institute actively seeks to influence policy and legislation through lobbying and submissions to government, the courts and other bodies.

Acting judges and magistrates

In July 2004 the Victorian Attorney-General released the Acting Judges Discussion Paper which considered the short-term appointment of acting judges to deal with periods of high demand in Victoria’s court system. The Law Institute through its Litigation Lawyers and Criminal Law Sections has made a submission to the Department of Justice in response to that discussion paper.[1] The Institute supports the government’s commitment to identifying new measures for addressing current delays and congestion in Victorian courts. The discussion paper can be found at http://www.justice.vic.gov.au.

Juror payments

Victoria’s juror payments in criminal trials has not increased in several years, leaving great disparity between the juror allowance in Victoria and those in other states and jurisdictions. Institute president Chris Dale has written to the Victorian Attorney-General asking the government to consider increasing the allowances payable to jurors.

David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib

Mr Dale responded to concerns raised by the Law Council of Australia’s independent legal observer Lex Lasry QC, in his report on alleged terrorist David Hicks’ preliminary hearing before the US Military Commission. The Institute has also written to federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock and Prime Minister John Howard regarding the nature of charges laid against Mr Hicks and pending charges against Mamdouh Habib.

Indexing of legal aid fees

Law Institute CEO John Cain met with Victoria Legal Aid managing director Tony Parsons to discuss annual indexing of legal aid fees for solicitors.

Magistrates’ Court

Mr Dale has written to Chief Magistrate Ian Gray to propose the creation of an Accident Liaison Committee between the legal profession and the Court. The Magistrates’ Court faces significant challenges at present with the increase in jurisdiction to $100,000. This change is expected to have an impact on the workers’ compensation jurisdiction with a large number of cases moving to the Magistrates’ Court. Mr Cain met with Deputy Chief Magistrate Peter Lauritsen to discuss the increase in the Court’s jurisdiction and how the Court was going to deal with the increased volume of work.

Limitation of Actions (Adverse Possession) Bill

The Department of Victorian Communities has prepared a draft Bill to amend the Limitations of Actions Act 1958 to exempt land of which a council is the registered proprietor from claims of adverse possession. The Institute, through its Property and Environmental Law Section, has made a submission in response to the draft Bill.

Victorian shadow Attorney-General

Mr Cain and Mr Dale met with Victorian shadow Attorney-General Andrew McIntosh to discuss a range of issues concerning the legal profession including acting judges, the master plan for the legal precinct and the issue of police corruption.

Equal opportunity briefing policy

Mr Cain and Mr Dale met with Tony Howard QC and Alexandra Richards QC to discuss the implementation of the Law Council of Australia’s Equal Opportunity Briefing policy. Mr Dale has also written to Victoria’s major firms to express the Institute’s interest in organising informal events for firm’s litigators to meet with women barristers and gain further information about their skills and practice areas.

Migration Agents Registration Authority

Mr Cain and members of the Institute’s Migration Law Committee met with Migration Agents’ Registration Authority (MARA) representatives to discuss the Committee’s concerns about the regulation of lawyers who are migration agents.

Community legal centres

Mr Cain met with Federation of Community Legal Centres chair Helen Yandell to discuss how the Institute can better engage with the community legal centres.

Review of Road Safety Act

Mr Dale has written to the Victorian Attorney-General calling for an urgent review of the Road Safety Act with a view to simplifying the Act and overcoming the complex expression used throughout the legislation.

Human rights abuses and the US Alien Tort Claims Act

The Institute’s Administrative Law and Human Rights Section and International Law Briefing Committee held a practice briefing on “Legal accountability for human rights abuses”. The guest speaker was Monash University Castan Centre for Human Rights Law acting director Dr Sarah Joseph. Dr Joseph spoke about the US Alien Tort Claims Act which confers civil rights on foreigners enabling them to sue for gross abuses of their human rights, even if those abuses take place outside the US.

GST determination – payment by book entry

The Law Institute’s Commercial Law Section in conjunction with the Law Council of Australia’s Business Law Section and Tax Committee made a submission to the Australian Tax Office (ATO) on draft GST tax determination GSTD 2004/D3.

Voting rights for prisoners

Mr Dale has written to federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock to express concern at the federal government’s proposal to prevent prisoners, serving a prison term of three years or more, from enrolling to vote. The Institute believes that the right to vote is a fundamental right of all Australian citizens and the Institute strongly rejects the proposal to prevent prisoners from voting in elections.

Use of term “fatigue” in Dangerous Driving Bill

The Institute, through its Criminal Law Section, has written to Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls to draw attention to the potential problems in the terminology adopted in the Crimes (Dangerous Driving) Bill 2004. The Institute is concerned with the use of the term “fatigue”.

After-hours legal advice rostering system

Mr Dale has written to Victoria Police Commander of Legal Services Luke Cornelius to express interest by the Institute’s Criminal Law Section Committee, to work on developing an after-hours legal advice rostering system. The need for such a system stems from advice by police who have experienced difficulty in facilitating the provision of after-hours legal advice for suspects.

Crown copyright

In February this year the Copyright Law Review Committee (CLRC) released an issues paper on Crown copyright and the Institute subsequently made a submission in May. The Institute’s Research and Information manager Natalina Verlardi and a member of the Institute’s Intellectual Property and Information Technology Committee David Janson appeared before the CLRC to present the Institute’s view. The Institute believes that Crown copyright should be retained but that there is scope for any legislation to provide greater clarity on what constitutes an instrumentality of the Crown.

Wheelchair deaths at pedestrian railway crossings

In April 2004 the State Coroner made various recommendations in relation to public health and safety, following the deaths of two wheelchair users who died after being hit by trains while using railway pedestrian crossings. Mr Dale has written to the Victorian Minister for Transport Peter Batchelor seeking confirmation as to whether the Department of Infrastructure accepts the Coroner’s recommendations.

LIV and the media

Bankruptcy reform
LIV calls for further consultation on Bankruptcy Reform
16 August Australian Financial Review

Crime conference
LIV president attends the Police and Crime Conference
24 August ABC’s 7.30 Report

Covert police tactics
LIV condemns the use of covert police tactics
8 September ABC 774 Radio, Triple J, AAP, ABC 702 (Sydney, Melbourne), ABC 666 (Canberra), Channel Ten news, ABCTV news, Channel 31
9 September Geelong Advertiser, Warrnambool Standard, Bendigo Advertiser, Ballarat Courier, The Age

Culpable driving
Reference to report by barrister Jason Harkess which appeared in the LIJ
1 September Cranbourne Leader

Housing seminar
LIV housing seminar is publicised
4 September The Age

Justice Neesham’s farewell
LIV president Chris Dale’s speech is quoted
17 August The Age

Kyneton Bowling Club
LIV provides specialist comment on the use of Crown land
25 August ABC Gippsland (Sale)

Legal consultant appointment
LIV criticises the government’s appointment process
12 August The Age
19 August The Age

Police corruption
LIV responds to the appointment of a new independent watchdog for the Police Ombudsman
25 August The Australian

Practical legal training course
The LIV and College of Law offer a new PLT course in Victoria
10 September Lawyers Weekly

President’s awards
LIV calls for nominations for the President’s Awards
3 September Lawyers Weekly

Property
LIV offers advice on purchasing a property
3 September Shepparton News
20 August Shepparton News

Sentencing Advisory Council
LIV comments on the new appointment to SAC
3 September Lawyers Weekly

Sexual offences final report
LIV welcomes the Victorian Law Reform Commission’s final report
26 August The Age
27 August 3CR (Melbourne)
28 August The Age

Speed cameras
LIV labels the government’s speed camera compensation package inadequate
11 August The Age

Victorian Court Strategic Directions Statement
LIV welcomes the courts’ vision for the next decade
3 September The Age
3 September Herald Sun
4 September ABC Radio


AMY LALLY is the Law Institute’s media adviser. She is also available to help members with particular media issues and can be contacted on 9607 9373 or alally@liv.asn.au.

advocacy@liv.asn.au


[1] This submission and all other submissions or letters written by the Institute mentioned in this column may be viewed at http://www.liv.asn.au/news/pro_issues/livsubs.

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