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 ├╝Le 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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All losses and outgoings to the extent to which they are incurred in gaining or producing the assessable income, or are necessarily incurred in carrying on a business for the purpose of gaining or producing such income, shall be allowable deductions except to the extent to which they are losses or outgoings of capital, or of a capital, private or domestic nature, or are incurred in relation to the gaining or production of exempt income.


Property owners having financial hardship over land tax could seek delayed payments, the Commissioner for ACT Revenue, Gordon Faichney, announced yesterday.

Mr Faichney said, “”Taxpayers wishing to discuss this further should contact the revenue Office on 2070126 or 2070107 before the due date to avoid automatic penalty charges and recovery action.

“”The penalty charges, calculated monthly at 20 per cent per annum would be charged on unpaid tax from August 16 and on the 16th of each month thereafter until the tax was paid.”
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ACT landlords are being advised to hold off paying their land tax, after the Leader of the Opposition, Trevor Kaine, called yesterday for quarterly payments of the tax.

Mr Kaine said some people would have to appeal to welfare agencies for food assistance until they recovered from the August one-hit payment of the tax. Most payments are as higher than $1000.

Mr Kaine said many people, mainly older people, had complained about hardship of paying the tax in one hit by August 15 on pain of a 20 per cent penalty. And it came when the first rates instalment was due.

“”The Government allows rates to be paid in instalments,” he said “”Why can’t the land tax not be payable in the same manner?”
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