The republican movement in Australia shows there is little demand for radical constitutional changes, according to the Clerk of the Senate, Harry Evans.
In a lecture at Parliament House yesterday, Mr Evans said republicans wanted the constitutional system left as it is, with the exception of a change in the Head of State. Thus it showed Australia’s constitutional system was in good shape.
There was no the same demand for radical changes as in Britain, Canada and New Zealand. these countries had real problems which caused the demands for change. Many of the changes sought were already in place in Australia.
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Accused people in custody in the ACT can expect a wait of 2 months before trial.
This is an increase of nearly one month from December last year, according to the latest figures issued by the ACT Law Society.
Accused not in custody can now expect to wait 16 months for a trial.
The waiting times underline recent pleas from judges and the profession for the appointment of a fourth resident judge for the ACT Supreme Court.
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The right of newspapers to report court proceedings was stressed in the ACT Supreme Court yesterday in the over-turning of a $10,500 award for defamation.
Constable Daniel Peter Edwards sued Federal Capital Press of Australia Pty Ltd, publisher of The Canberra Times, over a court report. He won his case in the Magistrates Court before Magistrate Peter Dingwall earlier this year. That was overturned yesterday by Justice John Gallop.
It is only the second time in 28 years that a media defendant has won a defamation case in the ACT. The Canberra Times won an action in May this year. The last media defendant to win before that was in 1964.
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The ACT Attorney-General, Terry Connolly, is hoping to serve the ACT community by standing and waiting on defamation law reform, despite the fact that the three eastern states have gone into an advanced state of farnarkling over proposals first put by the Queensland Attorney-General, Dean Wells, in June, 1990, for a uniform law.
Mr Connolly said yesterday that, the ACT had not given up on uniform defamation laws, despite the delays in NSW and Victoria.
“”There are enormous advantages in uniform laws for the ACT,” he said, bravely taking the John Donne approach. Just as Donne recognised “”no man is and island”, Mr Connolly said the ACT was as island in NSW and nearly all publication and broadcasts in the ACT were also publications and broadcasts in NSW.
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The ACT would not press ahead with a separate defamation reform Act despite the delay in the uniform Bill in the eastern states, the Attorney-General, Terry Connolly, said yesterday.
The reform plan was first put by the Queensland Attorney-General, Dean Wells, in June, 1990. He called for greater protection for publication of matter of public importance while safeguarding privacy.
Mr Connolly said he had not given up on uniform defamation laws.
“”There are enormous advantages in uniform laws for the ACT,” he said, “”The ACT is as island in NSW and nearly all publications and broadcasts in the ACT were also publications and broadcasts in NSW.
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The first draft chapter of a new plain-English criminal code for Australia has been issued by the committee of the eight Australian Attorneys-General.
At present the Australian states and territories are divided into “code” states (Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory) and common-law states (NSW, Victoria, South Australia and the ACT).
The standing committee of Attorneys-General said in 1990 that the inconsistency in criminal law in Australia could no longer be justified and set up the criminal law officers committee to build on work done by the Gibbs committee on criminal law to achieve consistency if not uniformity among the states.
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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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