Showing posts with label law. Show all posts
Showing posts with label law. Show all posts

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

A law firm specialising in freedom of religion, speech and conscience lays out the far-right's wish list concerning religious freedom legislation?


Make no mistake, what is in play here is an ideologically-driven push back against the 2017 amendment to the Marriage Act 1961 and, an attempt to regain the power to legally discriminate against the LGBTI community.

All three examples given by the Australian Christian Lobby in the following article involves individuals who have allegedly either actively discriminated against a transgender person or made statements to the effect that homosexuality was heretical, blasphemous and evil.

OUT in Perth, 8 August 2019:

The head of the Human Rights Law Alliance has laid out what he expects the government will allow in its religious focused anti-discrimination legislation.

In a recent presentation in Perth for the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), John Steenhof the Managing Director of the organisation, listed a range of examples where he felt people’s religious freedom had been compromised.

One of the examples Steenhof notes is the case of a pharmacists who he says ended up resigning from their job because they felt an equal opportunity commission was going to force them to fill the prescriptions of people who are transgender. 

“Just yesterday I was speaking to a pharmacist who’s quit her job because she’s been threatened with a discrimination claim for refusing a female hormones prescription at her pharmacy for a biological male.” Steenhof said. 

The Human Rights Law Alliance is a non-profit legal organisation that is closely aligned with the Australian Christian Lobby. Steenhof’s predecessor Martyn Iles is now the head of the ACL. 

In a presentation at the ACL’s ‘Not Ashamed’ state conference Steenhof said there are a number of threats to religious freedom in Australia including disciplinary boards, workplace contracts, vague code of conducts and discrimination claims.

Steenhof also cited the example of Bernard Gaynor, a conservative commentator who supports public displays of homosexuality being made illegal. Steenhof said Gaynor had been targeted through New South Wales vilification laws despite him living in Queensland, and the case of Tasmanian Archbishop Julian Porteous.

In his presentation Steenhof said it appeared the government was not interested in bringing in a religious freedom law, something he said Christians would welcome, but could be dangerous as it may “leave the door open towards the progression of towards a bill of rights act.” 

Steenhof said while he had not seen the legislation the government was proposing he was concerned that a religious discrimination act could be problematic if it was not well worded. 

“We want robust and clear definition of religious freedom and how that translates into action that will be protected. 

We want protection for religious organisations, Christians not only individually, but in community…Christian schools, Christian charities, all of these organisation require protections.” 

“We need protections for charities that would hold to man-woman marriage, we need rights of parents – that’s a massive issue that needs to be address and projections.

We need to address the low bar on vilification laws which allows people to pursue Christians when they feel just a little bit hurt or offended.” Steenhof said. 

In July the National LGBTI Health Alliance (the Alliance), the national peak health organisation in Australia for organisations and individuals that provide health-related programs, services and research focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people (LGBTI) called for stakeholders to commit to a “to do no harm” pledge during the discussions regarding the introduction of a federal Religious Discrimination Act. 

They argue that evidence shows that the structural discrimination enshrined in our nation’s laws exacerbate the impacts of minority stress on LGBTI people, including increased anxiety, depression, suicidality and substance use. 

Nicky Bath, Executive Director said that calls for religious freedom should not be used a licence to discriminate against LGBTI people. 

“The Alliance recognises that freedom of religion is a fundamental human right and is an essential part of a liberal, democratic society. We support measures that protect people from discrimination on the basis of their religious beliefs or activity, or their secular beliefs or activity. However, legislation for religious freedom should not be used as a license to discriminate against LGBTI people.” Bath said. 

Recent research has highlighted how legislative processes and public debates relating to the rights of stigmatised, minority populations adversely effects our communities’ already poorer mental health, with an increase in psychological distress being evident among LGBTI people during the same-sex marriage postal survey. 

“We are calling upon all Members of Parliament, media, religious organisations and individuals to engage in a respectful debate and reporting around legislating for a Religious Discrimination Act to ensure that the right to practice one’s faith and the right to be free from discrimination are appropriately balanced in a coherent legal framework and do not further marginalise or harm our communities’ health and wellbeing”, Bath said. 

“We also call on the Morrison Government to consult with LGBTI people, organisations and communities to hear directly how this legislation and the ongoing public debates impact negatively on our mental and physical health.” 

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia also says there is no need for pharmacists to be given an exemption from discrimination laws, and treating people equally is a big part of their code of conduct. 

“PSA recognises that equality is a health issue, and is a right for all Australians, irrespective of age, culture, religion, sexuality or gender identity.” a spokesperson told OUTinPerth. 

“This is reflected in PSA’s Code of Ethics for Pharmacists, which states that pharmacists have an obligation to respect the dignity and autonomy of the patient, recognise and respect patients’ diversity, cultural knowledge and skills, gender, beliefs, values, characteristics and lived experience – and not discriminate on any grounds, and provide care in a compassionate, professional, timely, and culturally safe and responsive manner.”


Saturday, 27 July 2019

Tweets of the Week




Friday, 26 July 2019

Land clearing law in New South Wales




It’s been almost two years since the NSW Government introduced a new scheme for regulating land clearing and biodiversity in NSW. While the business of tree clearing has continued apace under self-assessed codes and a new Vegetation SEPP, fundamentally important parts of the scheme are still missing. This EDO NSW series of legal updates looks at how the laws are being implemented and the regulatory gaps that are putting our wildlife and healthy sustainable landscapes at risk.

Our first update looked at clearing in rural areas and outlined the fundamentally important parts of the scheme that are still missing even while tree clearing has continued apace under self-assessed codes. The second update looks at elements of the new scheme that are missing or lack clarity for tree clearing in urban areas and e-zones. This third update looks at compliance and enforcement of new clearing laws.

Read the third update here.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Successive NSW Governments have believed that construction risks are best managed by builders - how wrong they were


This was the position of the NSW Liberal-Nationals O’Farrell Government in May 2013 after reviewing changes made to state building regulations and certification:

As the Government’s April 2013 White Paper – “A New Planning System for NSW” points out, building regulation and certification are a significant part of the NSW planning system.

The general outcomes that regulation and certification seek to secure are two-fold. First, a level of building performance consistent with the needs of an advanced society in terms of health, safety, amenity and sustainability and second, compliance consistent with planning expectations as defined by the planning system.

The current system of certification has evolved from the introduction of private certifiers in 1998, enabled by amendments to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A) and Regulations. Following the 2002 Campbell Inquiry into the quality of buildings, administrative changes were put in place within the then Department of Urban Affairs and Planning for regulatory oversight of certifiers and in 2005 the Building Professionals Act established the Building Professionals Board (BPB), which took over this function.

Subsequently, there have been numerous legislative amendments and changes to regulations relating to certification. These have been essentially accretive and so the legislative framework has become unnecessarily complex and in some cases no longer relevant. With the establishment of a new planning system, the opportunity presents to take a fresh look at arrangements which have essentially developed as flow-ons from the last major reforms dating back to the 1979 commencement of the EP&A. Accordingly, the well established principles of developing regulatory systems that are efficient in an economic sense, as well as effective having regard to ease of administration, achievement of desired outcomes and minimizing the compliance burden, should now be applied……

It follows that improvements to building regulation must have regard to regulatory impacts such as cost and effective administration and ensure that certifier resources can cope with a higher level of activity.

However, regardless of the effectiveness of improvements that can be made to regulation, building construction risks are best managed by the builder and outcomes for consumers will depend on the clarity with which the roles and accountabilities of all the participants in the process are specified in statutes and regulations. [my yellow highlighting]

By 2013 private building certifiers were estimated as issuing at least 50 per cent of all building approvals, according the NSW Dept. of Planning & Industry.

In 2019 the wheels fell off this particular ill-advised policy change, with reports of private certifiers acting like cowboys and forced evacuations of defective, dangerously unstable multi-story apartment buildings.


It gives me no pleasure, watching the looming disaster that is the NSW construction industry, to say we told you so  ("Toxic secret kept from unit owners", July 20-21).

In the early 2000s, along with my local government colleagues, we begged the NSW Government not to deregulate the supervision of building construction and give it over to private certifiers paid by the developers.
We warned it was putting the "fox in charge of the hen house" and would result in poor quality buildings that failed to comply.
Decades later successive state governments have ignored thousands of complaints from the community and numerous private certifiers declaring themselves bankrupt to avoid liability.
The industry is failing the consumer with all the benefits flowing to developers. The only real solution it to put government back in charge of regulation of the building construction process and that can only be done efficiently by a local authority. - Genia McCaffery, former president Local Government NSW

The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 July 2019:

Professional indemnity insurance premiums have skyrocketed following the discovery of severe defects at a string of apartment buildings in NSW and Victoria's flammable cladding problems, and other types of building insurance products are expected to follow.

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

News Corp, Morrison Government & mining lobby groups in concerted attack on environmental lawyers



The Attack.....

The Australian, 22 June 2019:

A taxpayer-funded network of environmental lawyers has been handed more than $2.5 million by state governments, helping the group to clog up courts and launch dozens of cases against gas and mining projects, including Adani’s Carmichael mine.
Environmental Defenders ­Offices in NSW and Queensland were awarded more than $1m from the Berejiklian government and almost $400,000 from the Palaszczuk government in 2017-18….

Resources Minister Matt Canavan yesterday called on the states to deprive the green lawyers’ groups of any more taxpayer funds.

“These EDOs are not defending the public interest but pursuing a political agenda,” he said.

“As such, they should not be receiving taxpayer support to ­destroy people’s jobs.”….

Leading business groups ­accused the EDOs of engaging in “vexatious litigation” which is ­delaying projects for years, damaging job-creation efforts and hindering the flow of ­royalties to states and territories.

“Frivolous and vexatious legal challenges to environmental ­approvals delay projects and threaten jobs in regional Australia,” Minerals Council chief executive Tania Constable said.

An Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association spokesman said the EDOs’ advocacy on climate change was out of step with their apparent role as a community legal centre for environmental cases.

“We have for some time questioned the role of the EDO and its public funding,” he said.

The Response.....

NSW Environmental Defenders Office (EDO NSW), 22 June 2019:

EDOs stand firm against attacks

We are a community legal centre of expert lawyers, proudly and unapologetically helping the NSW community to use the law to protect wildlife, people and our planet.


Environmental laws should not be for the few. They affect us all. Yet once again we are forced to defend the community's access to justice against attacks by a fossil fuel lobby aggrieved by the power our work provides to communities who seek to challenge the lawfulness and merit of their major projects.

EDO NSW's litigation work on behalf of our clients plays an important role, ensuring that people have access to justice and are able to exercise their rights under Australian law. People have a right to use the law to protect their family, homes and environment. To be clear, as public interest community legal centres, EDOs do not litigate on our own behalf, but represent clients (community groups, Aboriginal groups and individuals) who may otherwise be unable to have access to the justice system.

It’s disappointing to see, yet again, the Minerals Council and Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association demonstrating their lack of understanding of, and respect for, the rule of law. At their heart, these claims are an attack on our democracy and  we should all be very concerned.

The fossil fuel lobby has a track record of making the unsubstantiated claim that EDOs engage in vexatious litigation, and frankly it’s getting tired. Despite being over-utilised, this claim remains a troubling proposition. EDO NSW lawyers, who include some of the best in our field, take our professional responsibilities extremely seriously. Our 30 year track record is evidence of that. Not once in our history have our clients’ cases been found to be ‘frivolous or vexatious’.

Underpinning most of our litigation work is a question about whether the law has been complied with. That decision-makers apply the law is a fundamental feature of our democracy. Ensuring the law is complied with should be uncontroversial.


In other instances, our work interrogates whether approving a project is – considering all the circumstances – the correct or preferable decision. These are not simple questions. The answer lies in the weighting of a range of different factors. Our important work ensures that evidence proffered in support of a project is thoroughly tested. 

In a number of instances, including in the recent case concerning the proposed Rocky Hill coal mine, the economic benefits of the mine put forward by the mining company were found to be overstated, based on the evidence put forward by both the Government’s expert and our client’s.  Equally the economic negatives of that project - including social impacts and impacts on Aboriginal cultural heritage - were found to have been understated by the mining company.

Litigation is a small component of the work this office does on behalf of clients. When we do so, it is only after application of our casework guidelines and detailed analysis from senior legal experts to ensure there are merits in bringing a case.
EDO NSW also provides the community with free legal advice and education - work that does see us receive some State government grants. Our office operates a daily advice line providing free advice on matters of environmental and planning law.

The NSW Government has provided EDO NSW with funding for decades, irrespective of which party is in Government. This demonstrates a bipartisan understanding of our role and corresponding support for the provision of access to justice in this space - that is, allowing members of the community to understand and seek advice about NSW environmental and planning laws. 

Our work relates to ensuring that laws are applied correctly, and ensuring that evidence put forward by project proponents is tested in an appropriate and independent forum. Any changes to the law that erode community opportunities to participate in environmental decision-making would be very concerning. This could easily be seen as a blatant attempt to further prioritise the rights of coal mining companies over the rights of communities, including farmers, eco-tourism operators and others.


David Morris
CEO - Solicitor

Monday, 17 June 2019

Australian mainstream media learns another lesson as to why racism is bad policy



BuzzFeed News, 13 June 2019:

Channel Seven has failed in its bid to strike out a lawsuit brought by a group of Aboriginal people who say they were defamed during a now infamous panel discussion on breakfast TV show Sunrise about adopting Indigenous children.
Yolngu woman Kathy Mununggurr and 14 others from the remote community of Yirrkala, including adults and children, are suing the TV network after they were depicted in blurred overlay footage that played during the segment in March 2018.

In the discussion, hosted by Samantha Armytage, commentator Prue Macsween said of the Stolen Generations that “we need to do it again, perhaps”, and then-radio host Ben Davis said Aboriginal kids are getting “abused” and “damaged”.

The comments made by the all-white panel provoked protests outside the Sunrise studio in Sydney's CBD.

Mununggurr and the adults suing argue they were identifiable in the footage and that by playing it during the discussion Sunrise had suggested they abused, assaulted or neglected children, were incapable of protecting their children, and were members of a dysfunctional community.

The children suing say the program defamed them by suggesting they had been raped and assaulted, and were so vulnerable to danger that they should be removed from their families.

The group is also suing for breach of confidence and breach of privacy, as well as misleading and deceptive conduct and unconscionable conduct under the Australian Consumer Law.

The TV network tried to strike out all aspects of the lawsuit in a Federal Court hearing on Wednesday afternoon, but was slapped down by Justice Steven Rares, who said all the issues could and should be argued at trial…..

"This is about an Aboriginal community. They’re all very close. The neighbours know each other, they all know each other," the judge said.

"You’ve got a whole community up there, most of whom will be able to recognise each other, obviously some of whom who watch Sunrise, or whatever the show is called."…...

Rares accepted there was an argument that Davis and the radio station 4BC were being promoted during the segment, but was less convinced when it came to Macsween.

“To me she’s a nobody. I’ve never heard of her and I’ve got no idea what contribution she possibly could have made to the program,” he said.

Nonetheless Rares sided with Catanzariti and declined to strike out the claim.
Seven's attempts to strike out the remaining claims of breach of confidence, breach of privacy and unconscionable conduct were similarly rejected.

Seven was ordered to pay the costs of the hearing.

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Climate change litigation and Australia


Pointing out the potential risks to business and government of ignoring or denying the reality of climate  change.....

The Canberra Times, 29 May 2019:

Since the late 1990s, Australian politics on climate change has been divisive.

Although Australia signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1998, it did not ratify it until 2007. 

Then, in 2011, the Clean Energy Act purporting to reduce greenhouse emissions was passed, only to be repealed in 2014.

In 2016, Australia ratified the Paris Agreement and the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol; however, any serious action on climate change remains to be seen.

At the same time, some states and territories also have emissions reduction targets. 

The uncoordinated approach is a problem for at least two important reasons.

First, climate change is an ever-increasing phenomenon, with tremendous impact on corporate, social and political discourse. Any meaningful legal framework to govern climate change requires the development of a legal consensus at the federal level, in line with international commitments.

Second, there is a rising wave of climate change-related litigation globally which is headed for Australia. Climate change litigation 2.0 (targeting companies) and climate change litigation 3.0 (targeting governments) will sink Australia, unless drastic measures are implemented.

Under the current legal regime, company directors may only be liable if found to be in breach of their duty of care or for failing to address a foreseeable risk. However, guidance from case law suggests that it is difficult to establish that the actions or omissions of a particular entity or director caused or contributed harm to be suffered by another. With the arrival of climate change litigation 2.0, this will all change.

For one, litigation 2.0 will force companies to assess and report on the risks of climate change and potentially set out plans for mitigating those risks. The recent tide of comments from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority and the Reserve Bank of Australia are a testament to this.

Companies and their directors could soon face liability (including personal liability) if they fail to assess and address risks relating to climate change. Investors, shareholders and even communities will be able to recover losses and seek damages from companies and their directors, auditors and advisors, for failing to assess and mitigate risks.

As major climate change attribution studies emerge to assist in tracing particular weather events with greenhouse gasses, causation will be easier to establish. It is likely that in the future, courts will rely on such studies to conclude that a particular entity has contributed, at least in some proportion, to a particular harm……

Although unprecedented and unheard of in Australia, climate change litigation 3.0 will be the next phase. It will allow Australians to bring action against the government for failing to mitigate risks.

Claims of this nature around the world are already proving to be quite successful. 

The Urgenda litigation in the Netherlands is the leading example. In that case, a Dutch NGO argued that the Netherlands Government had breached its duty of care to the Dutch people by failing to mitigate the risks of climate change and reducing greenhouse gases. The remedy ordered by the court was that the Netherlands Government reduce emissions by at least 25 per cent by the end of 2020….. [my yellow highlighting]

It should be noted that on 8 February 2019 the NSW Land and Environment Court in its judgment Gloucester Resources Limited v Minister for Planning [2019] NSWLEC 7 accepted that climate change formed part of critical reasons to reject a mine development.

Gloucester Resources decided not to appeal this decision and the proposed 830ha Rocky Hill Coal Mine in the Hunter Valley region will not proceed

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

US Court Blocks Trump's Border Wall As Court Case Proceeds


It would appear that two years and four months after Donald Trump was sworn in as President of the United States of America a healthy resistance against his heavy-handed autocratic tendencies is still alive and well........

“The position that when Congress declines the Executive’s request to appropriate funds, the Executive nonetheless may simply find a way to spend those funds “without Congress” does not square with fundamental separation of powers principles dating back to the earliest days of our Republic."  [Judge Haywood S. Gilliam, US District Court Northern District of California, Sierra Club et al v Donald J. Trump et al, 24 May2019]


American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), 25 May 2019:

From the beginning of his campaign for president, Donald Trump claimed that he was going to build a wall along the southern border. He said “nobody builds walls better than me.” He said the wall would be “big” and “beautiful.” He said someone elsewould pay for it. And he said it would be built so fast that “your head would spin.”

Last night, for the first time, a federal judge made clear to President Trump he couldn’t get his wall by illegally diverting taxpayer money.

The judge’s ruling comes in an ACLU lawsuit on behalf of the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC). Together, the Sierra Club and SBCC represent the communities who live in, protect, and treasure the lands and communities along our southern border. For years, these communities have engaged in the democratic process and successfully persuaded their congressional representatives to deny President Trump funding to build his wall.

Our lawsuit centers on the question of whether the president abused his power to divert funds for a border wall Congress denied him. Unfortunately for President Trump, the Constitution is clear on the matter: only Congress has the power to decide how taxpayer funds are spent. And Congress, like border communities, said no to the President’s wall.

Congress didn’t bow to Trump’s pressure even after he caused the longest government shutdown in U.S. history over his demands for billions of dollars for his wall. Congress allocated only a fraction of the money that Trump demanded, and imposed restrictions on where and how quickly any border barriers could be built.

In a blatant abuse of power meant to circumvent Congress, President Trump declared a national emergency on February 15, 2019, and announced he would illegally divert $6.7 billion from military construction and other accounts for the border wall project.

From the beginning, the emergency was obviously a sham. Trump said as much himself when he declared the emergency, saying he “didn’t need to do this” but he’d prefer to build the wall “much faster.” He added that he declared a national emergency because he was “not happy” that Congress “skimped” on the wall by denying him the billions he demanded.

Despite this, the Trump administration tried to argue in court last Friday that Congress never actually “denied” President Trump the billions of dollars he is now trying to take from the military. The court rejected the administration’s argument, reminding the administration that “the reality is that Congress was presented with—and declined to grant—a $5.7 billion request for border barrier construction.”

The court’s ruling blocks the sections of wall that the Trump administration announced would be built with military pay and pension funds. It also invites us to ask the court to block additional projects as they are announced in the future. The judge emphasized the government’s commitment to inform the court immediately about future decisions to build.

It may be easy to ridicule President Trump’s desperation for a border wall — an absurd and xenophobic campaign promise for which he has only himself to blame. But as pointless and wasteful as it may be, Trump’s campaign promise now threatens to cause irreparable and real damage to our constitutional checks and balances, the rule of law, border communities, and the environment.

The wall is part of an exclusionary agenda that President Trump has targeted, over and over, at people of color. From his notorious Muslim Ban, to his efforts to eliminate protections for immigrants from Haiti, Sudan, Nicaragua, and El Salvador, courts have found“evidence that President Trump harbors an animus against non-white, non-European” immigrants. Trump has repeatedly justified his wall by lying about border communities, falsely claiming that America needs a wall.

Border communities know firsthand that walls are dangerous and wasteful. They divide neighborhoods, worsen dangerous flooding, destroy lands and wildlife, and waste resources. As our clients explained to the court, “we are a community that is safe, that supports migrants, that works well together and supports one another, that is worthy of existence.”  What border communities truly need is infrastructure and investment, not militarization and isolation.

The court’s order is a vindication of border communities’ advocacy for themselves, and of our Constitution’s separation of powers. As the court wrote, “Congress’s ‘absolute’ control over federal expenditures—even when that control may frustrate the desires of the Executive Branch regarding initiatives it views as important—is not a bug in our constitutional system. It is a feature of that system, and an essential one.”


Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Palmer loses bid in Australian High Court to stifle election coverage on 18 May 2019


Clive Palmer before he resigned from parliament ahead of the 2016 federal election
Image: Huffington Post
Mining billionaire Clive Palmer may be back onto the Forbes Australian Rich List and currently attempting to 'buy' his way into the Senate on 18 May 2019, but the High Court of Australia is unimpressed by his latest legal foray.

The  Court unanimously dismissed Clive Palmer's application with reasons to be given at a later date.

SBS News, 7 May2019:

Clive Palmer's attempt to delay the publication of early results on federal election night has been shot down by the High Court.

Mr Palmer wanted the detailed data kept quiet until all polling booths had closed, lest last-minute crowds in far-flung locations be swayed by the results.

He was concerned West Australian voters who left their run until the last two hours could be influenced by early figures from the eastern states.

But the full bench of the High Court ruled the Australian Electoral Commission does not need to wait for stragglers in WA before broadcasting indications in east coast seats.

"The court is unanimous in its view that the application should be dismissed," Chief Justice Susan Kiefel said on Tuesday…..

Mr Palmer's case takes aim at the AEC's two-candidate preferred counting practice.
This is used on election night to give an early indication of results.

But the two candidates listed are almost always from Labor and the coalition, rather than the minor parties or independents. But the two candidates listed are almost always from Labor and the coalition, rather than the minor parties or independents…….

Solicitor-General Stephen Donaghue downplayed the potential "bandwagon" effect.
Mr Donaghue said last-minute voters in WA voters could be influenced by many other factors, including basic voting figures and exit polls.

He also argued the federal election was not a presidential race, with people in WA voting for different local candidates than those on the east coast.

Palmer's United Australia Party is said to be standing candidates in every federal electorate and for Senate positions in every state.

The Guardian reported on 1 May 2019 that almost 40% of all United Australia party candidates do not live in the electorates they are standing for and, the party has recruited senior executives from Clive Palmer’s mining interests to fill its ranks.

Monday, 13 May 2019

All drink driving in NSW to result in immediate loss of licence from 20 May 2019



NSW Transport for NSW, media release, 6 May 2019:

Immediate loss of licence for all drink drivers

All drink driving offenders can now immediately lose their licence under tough new penalties announced by the Minister for Transport and Roads Andrew Constance today.

From May 20 drink drivers who are first-time, lower range offenders will receive an immediate three month licence suspension and fine of $561.

“This means anyone caught drinkdriving in NSW, at any level, including low-range, can now lose their licence immediately,” Mr Constance said.

“This reform makes it clear if you break the law, you will pay the price. We are taking a zero-tolerance approach to drink and drug driving.”

Under the new laws, simpler and more certain penalties will also apply for drug drivers.

Offenders who drive with the presence of illicit drugs for the first time will receive a $561 fine and a three month licence suspension if the offence is confirmed by laboratory analysis.

Alcohol related crashes claimed the lives of at least 68 people on NSW roads last year, accounting for nearly one in five road deaths, including 55 lives lost on country roads.

Fatalities from crashes involving a drug driver accounted for similar numbers of deaths.

“Drivers who have an illegal level of alcohol in their blood or have used illegal drugs have no place on the road,” Mr Constance said.

Assistant Police Commissioner Michael Corboy said this reform will protect all road users by ensuring swift and certain penalties.

“Alcohol is one of the major factors in crashes that kill or injure people on NSW roads.The 0.05 blood alcohol limit has been in place for almost 38 years. There are no more excuses,” Assistant Commissioner Corboy said.