The creature was the ACT body politic. Lawyers would call it a creature of statute. It was created (creatures are by definition things created) by Section 7 of the Australian Capital Territory Act in 1988: “”The Australian Capital Territory is established as a body politic under the Crown by the name of the Australian Capital Territory.”
Alas, the body had only two arms. Other bodies politic in the English tradition have three arms: the legislature, executive and judiciary. The ACT, until yesterday, was missing the last. The Self-Government Act of 1988 had only created and legislature and an executive.
A ceremony to mark the stitching on of the judicial arm was held in Courtroom No 1 of the ACT Supreme Court yesterday. Before yesterday, the court was under Commonwealth jurisdiction. Now it is under ACT jurisdiction, which means the ACT appoints judges, and subject to some entrenched safeguards, can remove them. It also funds the court and is responsible for its administration.
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The shadow attorney-general, Peter Costello, called yesterday for the Minister for Justice, Senator Michael Tate, to release documents on the granting of legal aid to those charged over the Iranian Embassy incident earlier this year.
“Somehow $1 million of aid has materialised for these applicants, some of whom are not Australian citizens,” Mr Costello said.
Granting aid to some meant others missed out. They would be concerned about the policy priorities in this case.
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The Government is to pay royalties for copying newspaper and magazine articles and pages from books, it was announced yesterday.
The royalties are one cent an A4 page for newspapers, four cents for magazines, and five cents for books and 12 cents for journals.
The payment is expected to run to millions of dollars a year. Government sources from a number of departments could not hazard a more precise guess at how many pages are copied by the Government.
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The ACT Attorney-General’s Department has signalled its intention to end the lawyers’ monopoly over property conveyancing in Canberra.
Letting others do conveyancing “would benefit consumers” it said in an issues paper on conveyancing made public today.
“The Government is committed to improving competition by removing restrictive practices,” it said. ” the opening up of conveyancing services to competition is a significant example of such reform. It is not desirable that the market for conveyancing services remain restricted.”
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The conveyancing myth: greedy Canberra lawyers cream people for hundreds of dollars for doing an essentially clerical task and if only we had a system of land-brokers like South Australia it would be much cheaper.
The fact: South Australian land-brokers are now charging as much as Canberra lawyers.
Further, the government charges in South Australia are horrific, so the home-buyer there pays as much as here.
What should home-buyers look for? What should they expect? Is conveyancing a huge rip-off? Can you do it yourself?
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The essential legal point in yesterday’s decision on ordination is not one about women’s rights.
The judge who originally refused the injunction to prevent the ordination, Justice Rogers, thought that this was the key issue. In refusing the injunction he said federal anti-discrimination law would prevent him from ruling that the ordinations be prevented.
That ruling was overturned by the NSW Court of Appeal. It said then that the issue was not a question of women’s rights. It was a question of whether some members of an organisation could enforce in the courts the rules of the organisation against other members. It granted, several days after Justice Rogers’s decision, an injunction to prevent Bishop Dowling from going ahead with his proposed ordination until a full hearing on the merits could be held.
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The principal adviser on criminal justice in the Attorney-General’s Department, Herman Woltring, has been appointed head of the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Branch in Vienna for six months.
The branch helps countries with crime prevention and law enforcement, helps ensure international co-operation against trans-national crime, advises and helps other UN agencies with things like drug enforcement, human-rights and peace-keeping.
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Two major industry bodies called yesterday (satjul25) for changes to the powers of the Trade Practices Commission.
They criticised the TPC’s “”extravagantly wide” powers to interrogate people under oath.
The criticisms come after the rejection by the Federal Court on Friday of an action bought by the TPC alleging petrol price fixing by the service-station industry.
The executive director of the Motor Trades Association of Australia, Michael Delaney, said, “”The TPC should be required to re-assess its objectives and its procedures in the investigation and prosecution of alleged restrictive trade practices.”
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One of Canberra’s premier cultural and tourist events, The Australian Theatre Festival, has been cancelled this year because the ACT Government and the Australia Council could not guarantee funding in time.
The chairman of the Canberra Theatre Trust, Jim Leedman, said he regretted the cancellation, but it was the responsible thing to do. The trust would concentrate on the 1993 festival.
The Minister for Arts, Bill Wood, said Robyn Archer has been appointed artistic director for the festival in 1993. Ms Archer, from Adelaide, is a noted singer, writer, actor and director. She starred in üLe Chat Noir at last year’s festival. The show was a sell-out and had to be extended.
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The date for public submissions on tenancy law has been extended to August 17.
The ACT Community Law Reform Committee said yesterday (TIME “MM dd, yyyy” July 15, 1992) that this was because of a huge attendance at recent public meetings. The committee is looking at ways to simplify the law so landlords and tenants knew their rights and duties on such things as bonds, eviction and sub-letting.
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