Friday, 8 January 2016
By early March 2016 the Turnbull Government is required to table and release the Australian Law Reform Commission report of the Freedoms Inquiry findings.
The Interim Report published in August 2015, Traditional Rights and Freedoms— Encroachments by Commonwealth Laws, can be found here.
This interim report states:
1.87 Throughout this paper, the ALRC highlights certain laws that may merit closer review. These are laws that have been criticised for unjustifiably limiting common law rights or principles. This report highlights some of these criticisms and some of the arguments that may be relevant to justification. However, for most of these laws, the ALRC would need more extensive consultation and evidence to justify making detailed recommendations for reform.108 1.88 Therefore, rather than make detailed recommendations for reform based on insufficient evidence, the ALRC has highlighted laws that seem to merit further review. These laws are identified in the conclusion to each chapter. The highlighted laws have been selected following consideration of a number of factors, including whether the law has been criticised in submissions or other literature for unjustifiably limiting one or more of the relevant rights and whether the law has recently been thoroughly reviewed. Laws that may be criticised for reasons other than interference with rights, for example because they do not achieve their objective, are not highlighted for that reason alone. The fact that a law limits multiple rights has also sometimes suggested the need for further review.109 1.89 The ALRC calls for submissions on which laws that limit traditional rights deserve further review.
And makes a welcome suggestion which, if implemented, would assist both parliamentarians and voters:
2.58 Additional procedures could be put in place to improve the rigour of statements of compatibility and explanatory memoranda to assist Parliament in understanding the impact of proposed legislation on fundamental rights, freedoms and privileges. The object of such procedures would be to ensure that statements of compatibility and explanatory memoranda provide sufficiently detailed and evidence-based rationales for encroachments on fundamental rights, freedoms and privileges to allow the parliamentary scrutiny committees to complete their review.