Friday, 3 June 2016

Australian Attorney-General George Brandis lists some common breaches of the rights, freedoms and privileges recognised by the common law

Australian Attorney-General and Liberal Senator George Brandis has helpfully listed common breaches of a citizen’s rights, freedoms and privileges – the same rights, freedoms and privileges which coincidentally have been eroded in federal legislation enacted since 2001.

Review of Commonwealth Laws for Consistency with Traditional Rights, Freedoms and Privileges
I, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, Attorney-General of Australia, having regard to the rights, freedoms and privileges recognised by the common law, REFER to the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) for inquiry and report pursuant to section 20(1) of the Australian Law Reform Commission Act 1996 (Cth):
· the identification of Commonwealth laws that encroach upon traditional rights, freedoms and privileges; and
· a critical examination of those laws to determine whether the encroachment upon those traditional rights, freedoms and privileges is appropriately justified.
For the purpose of the inquiry ‘laws that encroach upon traditional rights, freedoms and privileges’ are to be understood as laws that:
· reverse or shift the burden of proof;
· deny procedural fairness to persons affected by the exercise of public power;
· exclude the right to claim the privilege against self-incrimination;
· abrogate client legal privilege;
· apply strict or absolute liability to all physical elements of a criminal offence;
· interfere with freedom of speech;
· interfere with freedom of religion;
· interfere with vested property rights;
· interfere with freedom of association;
· interfere with freedom of movement;
· disregard common law protection of personal reputation;
· authorise the commission of a tort;
· inappropriately delegate legislative power to the Executive;
· give executive immunities a wide application;
· retrospectively change legal rights and obligations;
· create offences with retrospective application; 
· alter criminal law practices based on the principle of a fair trial;
· permit an appeal from an acquittal;
· restrict access to the courts; and
· interfere with any other similar legal right, freedom or privilege.
Scope of the reference
In undertaking this reference, the ALRC should include consideration of Commonwealth laws in the areas of, but not limited to:
· commercial and corporate regulation; · environmental regulation; and
· workplace relations.

The full report can be read here.

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