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George Williams AO speech to the 2023 Annual Dinner

On 16 November 2023 the Society held its Annual Dinner at Sky Phoenix Restaurant, Sydney. Members and supporters heard from George Williams AO and the New South Wales Attorney-General the Hon Michael Daley MP. 

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A Human Rights Act for NSW: Open Letter to State Labor MPs

The Society recently delivered the below open letter to the State Parliamentary Labor Party. We look forward to working with our members and supporters to deliver a Human Rights Act in the next NSW parliamentary term. 

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Open letter to the State Parliamentary Labor Party regarding the NSW Government's OPCAT breach

In a recent open letter to the State Parliamentary Labor Party the Society called on the Party to adopt as its policy the full implementation of the National Preventative Mechanism requirements in the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT). 

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Recent Features in ALRC and NSWLRC Reports

The Australian Law Reform Commission and NSW Law Reform Commission recently released two reports which the Society provided contributions to:

  • NSWLRC Open Justice - Court and tribunal information: access, disclosure and publication (Report 149) - access here;
  • ALRC Final Report - Without Fear or Favour: Judicial Impartiality and the Law on Bias (Report 138) - access here

The Society's submissions traversed a broad range of issues including the introduction of a federal judicial commission, improving diversity on the bench, pecuniary interest registers for judges, and sunset clauses for and the right to public review of suppression and non-publication orders. 

All of the Society's original submissions are available below:

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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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