A Parliamentary Select Committee in the Commonwealth has released a report on the Exposure Draft of the Marriage Amendment (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill. The Bill was originally drafted as the basis for on-going consultation if the Government’s same-sex marriage plebiscite had gone ahead. Although the Plebiscite (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill 2016 (Cth) failed to pass the Senate, the Select Committee said they hoped the report would still be “a useful vehicle to seek consensus on agreed elements of the proposal, and to better identify the substantive issues that remain contested as a result of people’s varying political or philosophical perspectives.
On 8 February 2017, the Victorian Legislative Assembly introduced the Electricity Safety Amendment (Bushfire Mitigation Civil Penalties Scheme) Bill 2017. The Bill provides civil penalties as a measure of last resort to ensure that full effect is given to the recommendations of the royal commission into bushfire risk and other matters.
The Victorian Sentencing Advisory Council (“the Council”) has released a discussion paper on ‘swift, certain and fair approaches to sentencing family violence offenders’ as part of a review commissioned in 2016 by the Attorney-General. The discussion paper is “intended to facilitate consultation on the key issues raised by the terms of reference” and will “assist in the development of the Council’s final advice to the Attorney General, due in August 2017.” The Council is seeking submissions on the discussion paper before 31 March 2017.
Yesterday (23 February 2017), the Fair Work Commission Full Bench handed down a momentous decision in the 4 yearly review of modern awards – Penalty Rates  FWCFB 1001. The Fair Work Commission decided to cut Sunday and some public holiday rates of pay across the hospitality, retail, pharmacy and fast food industries for full time, part time and some casual workers.
The Victorian Parliament has seen the recent introduction of the Jury Directions and Other Acts Amendment Bill 2017. The Bill builds on previous reforms to the Jury Directions Act 2015 (VIC) to improve the jury direction process. The Bill aims to clarify the content of particular directions while discouraging abolishing certain unhelpful and confusing directions and at the same time introduce new directions to address common misconceptions. It also removes the arbitrary time requirements for jury deliberations.
The Senate Standing Committee on Economics (the SSCE) has delivered its report on the Competition and Consumer Amendment (Misuse of Market Power) Bill 2016 (Cth) (the Bill) on 16 Feb 2017. The Bill was introduced into the House of Representatives on 1 December 2016 and currently stands at the second reading stage. The Bill seeks to implement the reforms to the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) (CCA) recommended by the Harper Review of competition policy which we have reported on previously see Related Articles, below .
The Foreign Affairs and Aid Sub-Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade has announced the commencement of an inquiry into modern slavery in Australia. The inquiry will consider whether Australia should adopt an Act comparable to the United Kingdom’s Modern Slavery Act 2015.
On 9 February 2017, the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, introduced new legislation, namely the: Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority Bill 2017 (The IPEA Bill) and the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2017 (the Consequential Amendments Bill) into the House of Representatives, to set up an independent parliamentary expenses authority.
The Queensland LNP Opposition has introduced the Bail (Domestic Violence) and Another Act Amendment Bill 2017 in the form of a Private Members Bill into the Queensland Legislative Assembly. LNP Leader Tim Nicholls introduced the Bill in response to the recent murder of Teresa Bradford by her estranged husband in her home. The main focus of the Bill is to reverse the onus of proof for bail in domestic violence incidents, DV alert systems and GPS tracking devices.
As a follow up to our previous article, the Victorian Government has on 14 February 2017 released the terms of reference for the review into Bail laws responding to the recent tragedy in Melbourne's Bourke Street, carried out by an alleged offender who was on bail at the time of the offence, and the public outrage it sparked. Additionally, the ACT has also announced a review of Bail laws in response to the same attack.
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