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COVID-19 and the Australian Labour Market - Speech by the Hon Adam Searle MLC

On 30 August 2021 the Hon Adam Searle MLC delivered a speech to the Auburn State Electorate Council which explored the impact of COVID-19 on the Australian labour market and canvassed possible options for industrial relations reform in the wake of the pandemic. 

The virus and the restrictions put in place to combat it are having serious effects on workers and communities, across New South Wales and particularly in west and southwestern Sydney. The region has lost a quarter of a million jobs, with key industries in the state suffering significant downturns - far larger than last year. Some ideas canvassed in the speech include the introduction of wage theft laws, changes to workplace surveillance regulations, and a greater role in industrial relations protections by the NSW Government. 

A copy of the speech is available here.

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Submissions to the Inquiries into Judicial Impartiality and Open Justice

Over the last month the Society has contributed to two inquiries - the Australian Law Reform Commission's inquiry into judicial impartiality and the NSW Law Reform Commission's inquiry into open justice in New South Wales.

The Society's submission to the judicial impartiality inquiry argued for procedural reforms to remove the discretion for judges to hear applications for their own disqualification, as well as suggesting that the ALRC revisit pecuniary interest registers for federal judges, the introduction of a Federal Judicial Commission, and measures to diversify the bench. You can read the submission here.

Our submission to the open justice review supported the NSW Law Reform Commission's proposed consolidation of open justice legislation in New South Wales, but suggested that further safeguards be introduced to ensure final judgments are open to general public, including by allowing members of the public to bring an application to discard a suppression order after a minimum period of time has lapsed. You can read the submission here.

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Annual Frank Walker Lecture 2021 - Transcript of Milton Cockburn's Address

The Annual Frank Walker Lecture was held online on 29 July 2021. Attendees heard from Milton Cockburn, former journalist and political staffer to the late Neville Wran, as he unravelled the recent media attacks of Wran's legacy. The Society thanks Mr Cockburn for his fascinating lecture which paid tribute to former NSW Attorney-General Frank Walker's legacy as part of the reforming Wran Government. Among other things, Mr Cockburn recommended that certain remedies for defamation be extended to the estates of deceased persons who have had their reputations damaged after death. 

The transcript of the lecture is available here.

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Stephen Lawrence: Require prosecutors in the Local Court to disclose all material which might assist the defendant

I would amend the Criminal Procedure Act to require prosecutors in the Local Court to disclose all material which might assist the defendant. 

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Nikhil Mishra: Amend section 143(7) of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)

I would amend section 143(7) of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (‘FW Act’) regarding statutory exclusions from modern award coverage.

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Greg Jones: Social justice reporting obligations for corporations

Corporations Act Section 300 and associated sections to be amended requiring public companies to comprehensively provide in their annual reports their compliance with social justice objectives in Australia and overseas.

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Cian Galea: Expressly provide that unpaid parental leave counts as 'service' under the Long Service Leave Act

Subsection 4(11)(a1) of the Long Service Leave Act 1955 (NSW) (“LSL Act”) ought to be changed to expressly provide that unpaid parental leave counts as service under the LSL Act.  

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City of Sydney elections - are you eligible?

Elections are coming up this September for the City of Sydney. If you or your corporation (including partnerships) own, occupy or lease rateable property in the City of Sydney, you may be eligible to register to vote in the elections. 

More information on eligibility can be found online here on the City of Sydney website. The City of Sydney also updated its guidelines in September 2020 on how they interpret the legislative eligibility requirements - they can be accessed here

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Federal and State Labor Policy Platform Amendments

Since the beginning of the year, our Committee has been hard at work ensuring that legal issues are at the forefront of Federal and State Labor's policy agenda. 

Recently at the Special Platform Conference of the Australian Labor Party we were successful in amending the National Platform in a number of areas including in criminal procedure, child protection and class actions. A summary of these changes can be found online here

We have also submitted a range of policies to be considered at the NSW State Labor Conference, now scheduled for October 2021. A summary of these proposals can be found online here.

The Committee thanks Committee member Kirk McKenzie for his ongoing work on these policies. 

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NSW Parliamentary Inquiry Delivers Final Report on Religious Discrimination

Members will recall that in August 2020 the Society lodged submissions with the Joint Select Committee on the Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Religious Freedoms and Equality) Bill 2020. That Committee delivered its final report on 31 March 2021.

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