The garden city is in peril, according to the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects.

The institute says, “”The Garden city image of Canberra will inevitably decline if the (ACT) Government’s attitude to urban landscaping continues.”

The institute was responding to the ACT Government’s call for submissions on its capital works proposals for 1992-93. Its president, Judy Butt, said yesterday that the decline the standard of public works in the ACT was not restricted to the parliamentary triangle.
Continue reading “1992_07_july_bush”


A High Court judge warned yesterday of the dangers of poll-driven policies that could disregard the rights of minorities.

Sir Gerard Brennan, High Court judge since 1981, was addressing a human-rights conference organised by the Centre for International and Public Law at the Australian National University yesterday.

He said a Bill of Rights might protect minorities against the political branches of the Australian polity, the legislature and the executive.

Sir Gerard referred to phrase used by Lord Hailsham, a former British Lord Chancellor, that modern parliamentary government was an “”elected dictatorship”.
Continue reading “1992_07_july_bren”


Competition creates some strange bedfellows. It is not often that someone like Hugh Morgan seeks wider Commonwealth powers and a greater role for a government instrumentality.

That is what he did last week.

Mr Morgan is managing director of Western Mining Corporation. He has been an outspoken critic of Federal Government environment policies. He says government red tape is holding business back. But last week it was different. He was wearing the hat of chairman of the Business Council of Australia’s business law and regulation panel.

He sided with the Federal Government in calling for a wider role for the Trade Practices Commission. He attacked State Governments yesterday for not following the initiative of the Prime Minister, Paul Keating, in cutting state and professional monopoly powers. He said the states should reconsider Mr Keating’s call for an open inquiry into whether the Trade Practices Act should apply to government trading enterprises, marketing authorities, unincorporated bodies, government procurement and the professions.

At present the Act applies only to trade by private-sector corporations, interstate trade and trade within the territories because of the limits the Commonwealth’s constitutional power.
Continue reading “1992_07_july_bca”


The Government could be quite relaxed about increasing foreign aid, despite the recession, the Member for Fraser, John Langmore, said yesterday. ΓΏ(sunjul26)@

He was speaking after calls at the weekend by two major non-Government aid agencies for increased help for Africa.

Both CARE Australia and Australian Catholic Relief have painted a desperate picture in several African countries, notably Somalia, Sudan and Mozambique. The effect of civil war and drought is threatening the lives of millions of children.
Continue reading “1992_07_july_aid”


Somewhere, sometime in Australia last night the cell door slammed shut and the key was turned.

A lonely moment, with no-one to care. At the moment the cell door shuts despair befalls the prisoner. He (more often he than she) will more likely be drunk, drugged, injured or in ill-health than anyone else in the community. He will more likely be Aboriginal. He will more likely commit suicide or die from other causes.

But we do not know precisely how many people will be locked up, or why. Nor do we know precisely who is being locked up: their ages, sex, Aboriginality, reason for detention, when and why released and so on.

Without this information how can we prevent deaths in custody?
Continue reading “1992_07_july_aborig”


An Aboriginal treaty would “”imperil our sovereignty and place the very existence of our nation at risk,” the former Chief Justice of Australia, Sir Harry Gibbs, said last night.

There was no need for a treaty of special constitutional rights for Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders, Sir Harry said.

He was speaking at the inaugural conference of the Samuel Griffith Society in Melbourne. The society, named after the first Chief Justice, aims to preserve the Constitution by ensuring full public debate before it is amended.

Also at the conference, a former judge of the Queensland Supreme Court accused the present High Court of social engineering.

Sir Harry said this generation was “”not responsible for the crimes and blunders of the past” and “”should not be racked with guilt”.

Aboriginal people were not a sovereign people and should not receive international recognition as such. He warned against suggestions that in the future some areas in northern Australia might become separate nations.

He acknowledged that the condition of many Aboriginal people today was lamentable and they had special needs which our society should meet. But there was ample legislative power to do that without a change in the Constitution or a constitutional provision that gave them special rights not based on individual needs but on race.

Sir Harry rejected the idea that the Constitution needed radical rewriting for the centenary of federation or that Australia should be a republic.

His view of federalism was: “”nothing should be done by the Commonwealth that could be done equally well by the states themselves”.

That was the principle for which the European Community was striving.

“”With the bureaucratic genius for meaningless jargon they call it the principle of subsidiarity,” he said.

The reserve powers of the Crown were necessary in any system of responsible government. The events of 1975 were an anathema to some, but the powers had been used in Tasmania and Queensland in the past five years in a way recognised by all as impartial.

Sir Harry rejected a Bill of Rights “”because no human mind can foresee the effect which a court may ultimately give to general words intended to guarantee a right.”

The present federal system gave more rights than most countries with Bills of Rights.

The Constitution could be changed in a limited way: the states should have greater financial power; the Commonwealth’s foreign-affairs power could be restricted so it did not impinge on domestic matters and the industrial-relations power was unsatisfactory in its present form.

Mr Peter Connolly, QC, a former judge of the Queensland Supreme Court said the High Court in two leading cases had not decided “”right according to law.” He said Section 92 of the Constitution had guaranteed an individual right to free trade across state boundaries in Australia until May, 1988. Then the High Court has reinterpreted it. “”The court paid no regard whatever to the views of their predecessors,” he said.

“”Yet such is the lethargy of the Australian people that there has been little criticism of the decision,” he said.

He attacked the court for what he called overruling the principle that Australia had been possessed by the Crown in 1788 in the Mabo decision earlier this year. That decision recognised indigenous title, and said that it had always been in existence.

“”What rational suggestion can be made to bring home to the justices of the High Court that their deliberate social engineering does not command universal admiration or indeed respect.”

July 07 1992, Convey

The public is being asked to relate any bad experiences they have had with lawyers doing conveyancing in the ACT.

The Conveyancing Reform Lobby Group is opposed to lawyers having a monopoly on conveyancing. A spokesman for the group, Canberra businessman Greg Williams, said yesterday, “Solicitors over-charge and under-service.”

He has placed an advertisement in The Canberra Times today, asking that people send details of their complaints to the Conveyancing Reform Lobby Group PO Box 238 Woden.
Continue reading “July 07 1992, Convey”

July 07 1992 – Column28a

We have juries in Australia for serious criminal cases. They determine the facts, apply the law as explained to them by the judge, and decide whether the accused is innocent or guilty.

Juries, selected from the mass of the population, and are a bastion of freedom against the oppression of the state. That’s the theory, anyway. They also provide another function: they make sure that excessive legalism and technicalities are not used to defeat justice. They apply a common-sense view to the facts and the law.

The division is clear. Judges deal with the law. Juries deal with the facts and the applying of the facts to the law. That’s the theory, anyway.
Continue reading “July 07 1992 – Column28a”

July 07 1992, Column21

Why is the Archbishop of Melbourne and Primate of the Anglican Church in Australia going to be stopped from performing in a circus in the ACT?

This idiotic thought came to me as I was reading a proposed amendment to the Animal Welfare Bill. It says a “”prohibited circus animal means _ (a) a primate; (b) a bear cheetah, elephant, giraffe, leopard, lion, puma or tiger or (c) and animal prescribed (by the Minister).

I looked in the dictionary to find that a primate means head of the Anglican Church or any mammal of the order Primate that includes man, the apes, monkeys the lemurs etc. Ah, ah, so humans are going to be prohibited circus animals, too. No so fast, the people who draft laws are more clever than that. Earlier on in the Act is says “”animal means an amphibian, bird, fish, a mammal and a reptile but does not include a human being”.
Continue reading “July 07 1992, Column21”

July 1992. Justice for Australian writers

The Copyright Agency Ltd dished out $6 million last week to 1600 Australian writers and other copyright owners. That was the takings for all the photo-copying done in Australia’s educational institutions. It was a triumph of pragmatism over artificial legalism. The result, by and large, was justice for Australian writers. They got a financial return for the use of their work. Continue reading “July 1992. Justice for Australian writers”