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By Law Institute Journal


International Agricultural Law and Policy

Hope Johnson, 2018, Edward Elgar, hb

Global population growth, climate change and social and workforce issues each contribute to the increasing focus on agriculture, and in particular food security.

Sustainable agriculture and food security as a result of innovation in plant breeding, the importance of on farm practices and technology and better trade systems have been the objectives of global agriculture sectors for some time, particularly in Australia.

Australian farms and regulatory oversight, both federal and state, seek in different ways to encourage the growth of the agriculture sector, whether by encouraging and rewarding modern technology and improved breeding techniques or by emphasising “natural” food production, encouraging less use of crop protection products and more organic certification.

In today’s climate, a review of the laws relating to agriculture, including research, breeding, farming, land and water use and regulation, is welcome. While this book is not a hands on practical guide to the law and regulations in the area, it is a well-researched review and critique of applicable policy.

The book provides a detailed analysis of the legal and social policy affecting food security in a global context. Importantly, the book’s subtitle makes it clear that the author will review these issues using “A Rights-Based Approach to Food Security”. Throughout, the author’s conclusions and analysis are made with impacts on human rights, environmental concerns and sustainable practices front of mind. Due to this approach, at times the conclusions are thought-provoking and challenging.

Given the important need to consider the future for food security and agriculture globally, Hope Johnson’s book should be considered a valuable contribution to the subject matter.

Andrew Chalet, Russell Kennedy principal

The Law of Politics

Graeme Orr, 2nd edn, 2019, Federation Press, pb $90

The law of politics may be a new area of law for some readers. It is also called election law, electoral law and/or political activity law. It is a potentially very wide area, and could include legal topics such as FOI, media law and political assembly. Instead, this book narrows the law of politics to aspects of the law of representative and electoral democracy.

The 13 chapters include a legal analysis of the franchise, elections, political parties, campaigning and money in politics (donations). Specific legal topics in alphabetical order start at absentee voting, and include advertisements, ballot papers, campaigning, candidates, compulsory voting, corruption, defamation, disputed returns and work through to vacancies, voting, weighting votes and women.

Case law involving current and recent politicians includes (in alphabetical order) Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Pauline Hanson, Bob Katter, David Lange, Malcolm Turnbull, Larissa Waters and Andrew Wilkie. There is no “X” in the index and no case involving former politician and now Adelaide lawyer Nick Xenophon. Some historic cases involving politicians are included such as Sir Philip Fysh and Senator Bert Lacey, both of Tasmania.

The Communist Party Dissolution Case (1951) is included but there is no mention of the private prosecution of the former Prime Minister and three cabinet members in Sankey v Whitlam (1978). There is no comparative reference to Bush v Gore which settled the recount dispute and finalised the US Presidential election in 2000.

There is an entertaining foreword by the omnipresent ABC election analyst Antony Green.

Two suggestions for the author would be to use AustLII medium neutral citations, and to replace “gaol” with the current Australian usage of “jail”.

In short, this is the law book for lawyers and for anyone interested in the political process, thoroughly researched and well written by a law professor at the University of Queensland.

Paul Latimer, Swinburne Law School adjunct professor,

Drafting Trusts & Wills Trusts in Australia

James Kessler and Michael Flynn, 2nd edn, 2018, Thomson Reuters, pb $208

This book seeks to assist the reader to draft coherent and effective trust documents. As the authors state, the book aims to aid the drafter, whether lawyer or lay person, by discussing the issues that arise in drafting such documents.

The book includes statements of the law, an examination of traditional and popular legal theories and propositions, and learned recommendations on how to address troublesome drafting issues. There are also extensive references to case law and statutes.

This book is logically structured into 26 concise chapters, followed by a precedents section. The first chapter eases the reader into a discussion of first principles when dealing with trusts and wills. It then takes the reader through the techniques of modern drafting and interpreting these documents (chapters 2 and 3). Focus is then on the issues pertaining to beneficiaries and trustees (chapters 4 and 5). This is followed by detailed examination of numerous provisions in standard trust documents and the various forms of trusts. The final chapter deals with stamp duty considerations, including discussion of the relevant statutes that operate in the different states.

The precedents section includes examples of trust deeds, such as for discretionary, child maintenance and charitable trusts, as well as various will precedents to capture different situations.

This work is the culmination of considerable intellectual rigour and insight. It enables the reader to have a clear understanding of the issues to be wary of, and provides practical tips and guidance to avoid trouble.

David Kim, barrister

Dinner with the Dissidents

John Tesarsch, 2018, Affirm Press, pb $30

There are many parallels in history to modern events. It begs the question, does world history simply go around in circles? This story reflects the struggle of notable dissidents in post World War Two Soviet Union living in exile on the outskirts of Moscow. The focus is the celebrated Soviet writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn and his journey to write and publish his work The Gulag Archipelago – a work about the regime’s labour camps and system of internal exile. The KGB’s secret weapon to discover what Solzhenitsyn is writing is Leonid Krasnov, an aspiring writer. Krasnov is promised his works will be published. First though, he must modify his story so it will be regarded as subversive. He must become a dissident to infiltrate the group. Krasnov’s enthusiasm for his task wanes. He falls in love with Klara, the gifted musician whose talent is stifled by the regime. Eventually she becomes the unintended victim of an attempt to assassinate Solzhenitsyn. Krasnov publicly names those involved. Fast forward and Krasnov is a senior intelligence bureaucrat in Canberra. He is not convinced of the worth of modern-day laws to protect national security. He leaks a copy of a top-secret report on a Sydney terror cell to a journalist. It is not quite the struggle that his target suffered but Krasnov has, in a small way, also become a dissident. This is compelling historical fiction by the lawyer author.

Jamie Bolic, Golden Age Group general counsel

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