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Archive for September, 2009

SMH interactive report on the Bikie War

September 3, 2009 Leave a comment

criminal justiceThis is a cool interactive investigative report by Sydney Morning Herald, on the recent bikie gang wars.

http://www.smh.com.au/interactive/bikie-wars//

Categories: Criminal Justice

‘DNA to be obtained by force if necessary’ (Sydney Morning Herald, 2 September 2009)

September 3, 2009 Leave a comment

There has been a disturbing trend in the erosion of civil liberties in the state of New South Wales in recent years.  There was the draconian enforcement of the anti-protest legislation introduced during the APEC summit in Sydney in 2008.  There was the World Youth Day anti-annoyance regulation that was subsequently struck down by the Federal Court.  There was the controversy surrounding the introduction of taser guns into the NSW Police Force.  Then there was the controversial legislation introduced in the aftermath of the bikie gang violent incident in Sydney Airport.

Personally I have absolutely no sympathy for people who sexually abused children.  However, in the context of recent trends in the erosion of civil liberties, this article raises some alarms.

DNA to be obtained by force if necessary‘ (Sydney Morning Herald, 2 September 2009)

THE State Government has moved to strengthen legislation so that force can be used to obtain the DNA of those listed on the child protection register who refuse to provide it voluntarily.

It follows pressure from the police, who said some offenders on the register have refused to co-operate since the Government’s move last year requiring them to provide their DNA.

Offenders who come into regular contact with police are adept at skirting around the law as a way of frustrating authorities and avoiding detection,” the Attorney-General, John Hatzistergos, said. “These new laws will strengthen the process for taking DNA from offenders who have a history of harming children and continue to pose a risk to the community.

Note that under current legislation introduced in 2000, people who are sent to gaol for indictable offence would have their DNA  sample taken and placed into a DNA database.  Perhaps part of the aims of this propose legislation is to extend the coverage of DNA sampling to offenders before 2000.  However, lawyers have expressed concerns about the proposed expansion of police powers.

It is unreasonable to give police that sort of power,” said Stephen Blanks of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties. ”The power to compel DNA samples should be up to the courts.”

According to Stephan Blanks, courts already have the power to compel an offender to surrender DNA samples to the police.  However, courts act on the basis of providing safeguards against arbitrary abuse of power.  It exercises judicial power.  The police however does not exercise judicial power.  It exercises executive power, which is far more opened to abuse.

Overall, this appears to be an unnecessary expasion of police powes.

‘Women urged to sue to fix pay gap’ (Sydney Morning Herald, 2 September 2009)

September 1, 2009 Leave a comment

feminismDespite the past efforts of women’s liberationists, glass ceiling still exists for many women working in the corporate sector. Despite legislative enactments, women are actually still paid, on average, less than men for the same amount of work. They still continue to experience less opportunities for promotion than men.

This article discusses this issue, and looks into the legal options available for women who are still fighitng for equal pay and employment conditions.

Women urged to sue to fix pay gap‘ (Sydney Morning Herald, 2 September 2009)

AUSTRALIAN women need to sue if they want employers to take the widening gender pay gap seriously, international labour experts have told their Sydney sisters.
Men earn 17.5 per cent more than women, but a forum heard yesterday that a big stick – in the form of American anti-discrimination cases and payouts – could more quickly fix the problem than any awareness-raising.
Ms Hodges said she knew in 1980, when she was working as a lawyer in Australia, that she had to leave the country to get ahead. She is exasperated that the gender pay gap has only widened.
Canadian lawyer Mary Cornish, who chairs Canada’s Equal Pay Coalition and has advised governments and the World Bank on gender equity, agreed women ”have to have a litigation strategy”. She said one case could make a difference.
”If you don’t have a compliance approach, employers don’t do it, and neither do governments … You have to have some kind of stick.”
The Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, said that for women in the Australian workplace ”it is career death to raise … anything to do with sex discrimination”.
Ms Broderick said she had the power to run a pay discrimination case under the Fair Work Act. ”But to bring a case like that requires significant resources … We are just not resourced to use that power.”
The Federal Government is reviewing the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act, and yesterday released an issues paper which questioned whether the enforcement powers of its agency – which relies on working co-operatively with employers and promotional programs – were adequate. Mairi Steele, acting director of the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency, said she believed the Australian law was not working effectively enough.

AUSTRALIAN women need to sue if they want employers to take the widening gender pay gap seriously, international labour experts have told their Sydney sisters.

Men earn 17.5 per cent more than women, but a forum heard yesterday that a big stick – in the form of American anti-discrimination cases and payouts – could more quickly fix the problem than any awareness-raising.

Ms Hodges said she knew in 1980, when she was working as a lawyer in Australia, that she had to leave the country to get ahead. She is exasperated that the gender pay gap has only widened.

Canadian lawyer Mary Cornish, who chairs Canada’s Equal Pay Coalition and has advised governments and the World Bank on gender equity, agreed women ”have to have a litigation strategy”. She said one case could make a difference.

‘If you don’t have a compliance approach, employers don’t do it, and neither do governments … You have to have some kind of stick.”

The Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, said that for women in the Australian workplace ”it is career death to raise … anything to do with sex discrimination”.

Ms Broderick said she had the power to run a pay discrimination case under the Fair Work Act. ”But to bring a case like that requires significant resources … We are just not resourced to use that power.”

The Federal Government is reviewing the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act, and yesterday released an issues paper which questioned whether the enforcement powers of its agency – which relies on working co-operatively with employers and promotional programs – were adequate. Mairi Steele, acting director of the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency, said she believed the Australian law was not working effectively enough.

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