Commonwealth laws infringing on traditional rights

Recently, the Australian Law Reform Commission’s latest report stated that there were numerous Commonwealth laws that infringed upon Aussie’s privileges, freedoms and traditional rights recognized by the common law. As a matter of fact, this is regarded as one of the deepest legal research ever undertaken by the ALRC, given the fact that last week the government released the commission’s final Encroachments by Commonwealth Laws, regarding Traditional Rights and Freedoms.

The research was conducted following the request made by the Attorney-General George Brandis QC, back in 2014. The AG asked the commission to consider the matter and identify if there were any Commonwealth laws that might have infringed upon Aussie’s traditional privileges, freedoms and rights.

After researching about the matter keenly, ALRC managed to identify some Commonwealth laws that encroached upon 12 out of the 20 traditional privileges, freedoms and rights provided by the AG as Terms of Reference. In addition, the commissioner in charge of the enquiry and ALRC president Professor Rosalind Croucher, said that important freedoms and rights that were traditional, should only be interfered with, if it is really necessary, but it should be done reluctantly. “This final report will inform decisions about whether such laws may be repealed or amended, because it critically examines and identifies Commonwealth laws that limits traditional privileges and rights,” said Mr. Crouncher.

The 12 traditional rights that have been infringed by the Commonwealth laws include property rights, judicial review, procedural fairness, retrospective laws, legal professional privilege, privilege against self-incrimination, absolute or strict liability, burden of proof, fair trial, freedom of movement, freedom of association and assembly, and freedom of speech.

Also, the report calls for further review or consideration, putting in mind various Acts including the Migration Act, the ASIO Act, the Water Act, the EPBC Act, the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, the Australian Crime Commission Act 2002, the Corporations Act 2001, the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997, the Migration Regulations 1994, the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979, the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, the Copyright Act 1968, the Bankruptcy Act 1966, the Taxation Administration Act 1953, the Charter of the United Nations Act 1945, and the Crimes Act 1914.

The report stated that some of these laws might be reviewed by the ALRC itself, a body such as the INSLM, a government department or even a parliamentary committee. However, since the laws have different effects on Aussie’s traditional privileges, others may simply warrant consideration by government.

In the meantime, there are measures already being put in place by the Attorney General Brandis QC to maintain and preserve the rights and privileges that illustrate the principles of democracy. The AG has asked his ministerial colleagues to keenly consider the best alternative or decision that might be made in regards to the Commonwealth laws identified by the ALRC

The Attorney-General Brandis QC has asked his ministerial colleagues to keenly look into the matter and come up with the best action that might be taken, in relation to the laws that the ALRC has identified.

“It is important to take note that the rule of law, liberal democratic values and individual personal freedom lie at the heart of Australia’s national identity,” said the Attorney General.

Written by Joseph Craig

Joseph Craig is a writer, blogger, legal researcher and best-selling author of dozens of technology, law, digital marketing and self-development books and courses. You can contact him at josephcraigwrites@gmail.com

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