In the media

HRLC: Afghan and Australian human rights groups welcome release of the Brereton Afghanistan inquiry report
Afghan and Australian human rights organisations have welcomed the release of the report of the IGADF Inquiry, and have called on the Australian Government to now move swiftly to implement its recommendations and establish a proper redress mechanism for victims (20 November 2020). More...

Put families over politics, abandon flawed family court merger
A report by Government Senators into the Attorney-General's flawed merger bill regrettably fails to prioritise the wellbeing of families and children, ignores credible expert input, and instead doubles down in promulgating the government's proposed merger, according to the Law Council of Australia (20 November 2020). More...

Senate inquiry endorses Family Court reform Bills
The Morrison Government has welcomed the findings of a 12-month Senate inquiry, which recommended that legislation designed to fix the broken structure of the family court system be passed by Parliament (20 November 2020). More...

Aged care performance data must be made public
Consumers need easy access to data about the performance of individual aged care facilities so that they can make informed decisions, says the Australian Lawyers Alliance (20November 2020). More...

ASIO warns on social media spies
A new security campaign designed by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) has been launched to raise awareness of the threat of malicious social media users, with the campaign Think Before You Link (19 November 2020). More...

OAIC keeps tabs on COVIDSafe privacy
The OAIC is auditing the handling of personal and private information by COVIDSafe. The Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner, said the OAIC audit will look for compliance with the strict protections the Government put in place, with its first report due by the end of this year (19 November 2020). More...

ACMA seeks views on kids' TV content
The ACMA is seeking feedback on proposed new rules governing Australian content and children's television standards. The draft Broadcasting Services (Australian Content and Children's Television) Standards 2020 established a new Australian content quota system for commercial television broadcasters (19 November 2020). More...

Nine News breached privacy rules by disclosing police addresses: ACMA
Channel Nine News has been found to have breached broadcasting privacy rules by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) in multiple broadcasts dating back to October, 2019 (19 November 2020). More...

Productivity experts back policy for COVID recovery
The Productivity Commission has released new research that emphasises the important role of policy when the time comes for improving relative living standards and increasing productivity after COVID-19 (19 November 2020). More...

Public views sought for digital identity
The Australian public is to be asked its views on proposed legislation supporting and strengthening an expanded Digital Identity system in Australia. In a statement, DTA said the Digital Identity legislation sought to further enhance existing privacy and consumer safeguards and establish permanent governance arrangements (19 November 2020). More...

Let's talk about a federal Human Rights Act
The Law Council of Australia believes that now is the time to reignite the conversation and calls on the Australian Government to implement a federal Human Rights Act, launching the Law Council's policy position, that many Australians would not know that their human rights are not protected by the Constitution or legislation (18 November 2020). More...

Govt in $1.2b robodebt backdown
The commonwealth government has agreed to pay $112 million in compensation to members of the robodebt class action in a $1.2 billion settlement. The system was widely criticised for resulting in errors, incorrect debts and unnecessary hardship for welfare recipients and culminated in the largest class action in Australian legal history (16 November 2020). More...

Appointments to the Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court
Attorney-General congratulates Judge Altobelli and Ms Beckhouse on their appointments and thank them for their willingness to serve the people of Australia as judges of the Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court respectively (13 November 2020). More...

Performance pay to face review
The Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Ben Morton announcing a review of performance bonus arrangements for Commonwealth senior executives, said it is the expectation of the Government that where Agencies have access to bonus arrangements they should exercise restraint to the furthest extent possible in keeping with community expectations (16 November 2020). More...

Government should implement Renwick's recommendations
The Law Council of Australia has made 21 recommendations to the government's proposal to establish a new type of 'post-sentence order' in Division 105A of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth), aimed at managing future risk presented by a person who has completed a sentence of imprisonment for a terrorism or security offence (13 November 2020). More...

Review of the firefighter provisions of the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRC Act) report released
The Morrison Government welcomes the findings of a review of workers compensation arrangements for firefighters employed under the SRC Act, which will expand coverage and streamline claims (13 November 2020). More...

Reforms to National Natural Disaster Arrangements
The Australian Government is announcing major reforms as part of our response to the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements. Introduced legislation will give the Australian Government the power to declare a national emergency to help mobilise Commonwealth resources and help tackle the challenges states and local communities may face (13 November 2020). More...

Man charged with perjury offence
A 26-year-old man formerly from Pimpama was served a Notice To Appear in court to face one perjury charge following an investigation by the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) into a Gold Coast based law firm (13 November 2020). More...

Telcos to be judged by customers' views
The ACMA has proposed new rules for the suppliers of broadband services, requiring the publication of their customer service commitments and performance records. The new rules aim to empower consumers to choose a telco based on all factors of the service, not just price, and drive improvements in customer service (12 November 2020). More...

IBAC dismisses allegation of Vatican funds in Pell case
IBAC confirms it received information based on media reports which alleged Vatican funds were transferred to individuals in support of the recent case against George Pell. IBAC has reviewed the information and found the threshold to commence inquiries or an investigation was not met 11 November 2020). More...

In practice and courts

The Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia - Lighthouse Project update
The Family Law Amendment (Risk Screening Protections) Bill 2020 was passed by the Australian Parliament on 9 November 2020. This legislation provides an important framework and enables the Courts to progress the very important new family-violence and risk screening initiative, the Lighthouse Project. For enquiries please email the Courts here. More information about the project is here. Details of the Bill are available from the website of Parliament House here.

Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) Consultation: The Digital Identity Legislation Consultation Paper
The paper outlines key issues surrounding the development of the legislation and poses specific questions about its design, scope and content. The closing date for submissions is 18 December and readers interested in making a submission can access the Digital Identity Consultation here.

Office of the National Data Commissioner Exposure draft: Data Availability and Transparency Bill
We are seeking submissions on the exposure draft of the Data Availability and Transparency Bill and explanatory materials, and an Accreditation Framework discussion paper. Submissions are open until November 2020. You can also find a second independent Privacy Impact Assessment that examined the privacy implications of the Bill, and see our response.

Commonwealth Integrity Commission: consultation draft
The Australian Government has released an exposure draft of legislation to establish the new Commonwealth Integrity Commission (CIC) and make other consequences legislative amendments. A fact sheet about the key features of the CIC has also been released. The consultation page includes links to the draft legislation and further information about other issues under consideration.

New Family Court and FCC form for child abuse, family violence or risk
A new form aims to harmonise risk notification in both the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court.
The Family Court and Federal Circuit Court will implement a new form – Notice of Child Abuse, Family Violence or Risk – on 31 October. The form will be available from the Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia from 31 October.

AAT: Visiting the AAT during COVID-19
17/11/2020 - If you need to come to any of our offices, please call ahead on 1800 228 333 to plan your visit. Visit for essential COVID-19 information, including government measures and links to State and Territory health advice.

Consultation on proposed new conduct rule
The Law Council of Australia has released a consultation paper proposing that a new rule 11A be added to the Australian Solicitors' Conduct Rules. The proposed rule clarifies how existing ethical principles relating to conflicts of interest may be applied when providing short-term legal assistance services. The consultation closes on 7 December 2020. Read more.

LCA Submissions
18 November 2020— Business Law Section
Exposure Draft of the Treasury Laws Amendment (Measures for a Late Sitting) Bill 2020: Minor and Technical Amendments

16 November 2020— Business Law Section
Comments on Draft Tax Agent Services Instruments 2020

06 November 2020— Business Law Section
Permanent reforms – virtual meetings and electronic document execution

06 November 2020— Law Council
Review of the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (High Risk Terrorist Offenders) Bill 2020

05 November 2020—Law Council
Model Operating Requirements and Model Participation Rules: Consultation Drafts Versions 6.1

OAIC Consultation: Requirements to collect personal information for contact tracing purposes
The OAIC and state and territory privacy regulators have produced the following draft guidelines to support a nationally consistent approach to requirements for businesses and venues to collect contact information. The closing date for comments is 4 December 2020 (20 November 2020). More...

Australian Copyright Council
State of Escape Accessories Pty Limited v Schwartz?[2020] FCA 1606
Posted on 11/11/2020

ACMA Consultation: draft Broadcasting Services (Australian Content and Children's Television) Standards 2020
The consultation focuses on practical implementation and drafting issues relating to the program standards, and closes on 7 December. Feedback will then be considered, with the new standards planned to begin on 1 January 2021 (19 November 2020). More...

ACMA: Proposed service standards for superfast fixed broadband services - consultation 33/2020
We are proposing new rules for carriage service providers (CSPs) to improve the experience of consumers using superfast fixed broadband services. Consultation closes 09 December 2020 (10 November 2020). More...

ACMA position paper: Misinformation and news quality on digital platforms in Australia
A position paper to guide code development—includes a model code framework for consideration, including objectives and outcomes to be achieved for the benefit of Australian users of digital platforms. The ACMA anticipates to have in place a single, industry-wide code by December 2020. The position paper, Misinformation and news quality on digital platforms in Australia - A position paper to guide code development has been published on the ACMA website.

Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee
Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia Bill 2019 [Provisions] and Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2019 [Provisions]
Report by 20 November 2020. The amendments delegate additional powers to Registrars and Deputy Registrars of the Family Court of Australia (known respectively in practice as 'Senior Registrars' and 'Registrars') and Registrars of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia

Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee
Nationhood, national identity and democracy
On 31 August 2020 the committee's reporting date was extended to 8 December 2020.

Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee Consultations
Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Banning Dirty Donations) Bill 2020
The closing date for submissions is 6 November 2020.

Intelligence and Security Legislation Amendment (Implementing Independent Intelligence Review) Bill 2020
On 6 October 2020 the Senate extended the committee's reporting date to 9 December 2020.

Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Donation Reform and Other Measures) Bill 2020
Senate extended the committee's reporting date to 3 December 2020

LSC: Regulation of litigation funding schemes
The Legal Services Council has amended the Legal Profession Uniform General Rules 2015 with effect from 22 August 2020 so the prohibitions in s 258(1) and (3) of the Legal Profession Uniform Law do not apply in relation to litigation funding schemes now regulated as managed investment schemes. The new rule will operate for 12 months to allow for consultation See the Legal Services Council website

Australian Bushfires Disaster Emergency Declaration — Understanding your privacy obligations
The Attorney-General has made the Privacy (Australian Bushfires Disaster) Emergency Declaration (No. 1) 2020 (the emergency declaration) under Part VIA of the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (Privacy Act). The emergency declaration was made in response to bushfires in Australia resulting in death, injury and property damage occurring from August 2019 into 2020.The emergency declaration expires on 20 January 2021


Queensland Law Reform Commission Consultation Paper – a legal framework for voluntary assisted dying
The Queensland Law Reform Commission is seeking feedback on the Consultation Paper " A legal framework for voluntary assisted dying". The Consultation Paper explores a legal framework for voluntary assisted dying. The purpose of the Consultation Paper is not to consider the desirability or otherwise of introducing voluntary assisted dying legislation in Queensland. For more information please see the consultation page and the terms of reference.

OIC Queensland: Human Rights Month 2020
Human Rights Month (10 Nov – 10 December) is an annual campaign run by the Queensland Human Rights Commission to highlight the importance of protecting and promoting human rights (03 November 2020). More...

QAO Advice: Evolving digital services in government
QAO: 12 November 2020
Use of digital technologies has increased the pace of disruption in every industry. The question now is whether the Queensland Government is keeping pace with this reality. More...

Annual report 2019-20 feedback survey
By taking a minute to complete this survey, you will help us improve our annual reports so readers can use them more effectively. Open until 30 June 2021. More...

COVID-19 Update on Courts, Commissions, Tribunals
See current COVID-19 updates for the Courts, Commissions and Tribunals here.
Additionally, QLS also provides COVID-19 updates specifically relating to property law and criminal law.

Published - articles, papers, reports

PC Productivity Insights No. 3 2020
Productivity Commission 2020: 19 November 2020
This is the Productivity Commission's third Productivity Insights paper of 2020. More...

Planning for the 2021 Census
ANAO Report no 16: 19 November 2020
The objective of this audit was to assess whether the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is effectively preparing for the 2021 Census. More...

Performance Measurement and Monitoring — Developing Performance Measures and Tracking Progress
ANAO: 11 November 2020
This edition of audit insights summarises key messages from a series of ANAO performance audits assessing performance evaluation frameworks and success measures. It discusses the importance of both in keeping entities accountable and their performance transparent. More...

Statement by the Commonwealth Ombudsman Michael Manthorpe on the Australian Federal Police's handling of allegations made about the Hon Angus Taylor MP
Commonwealth Ombudsman: 16 November 2020
Based on the events that had occurred, and in deciding whether to investigate this matter, the AFP identified several potential offences, under both Commonwealth and ACT law. More...

September 2020: Report to the Minister for Home Affairs on agencies' compliance with the Surveillance Devices Act 2004, for the period 1 January to 30 June 2020
Commonwealth Ombudsman Surveillance Devices Six-Monthly Report September 2020: 13 November 2020. More...

Reports, allegations and inquiries into serious misconduct by Australian troops in Afghanistan 2005–2013
APH Library Research Publication: 09 November 2020
A growing body of actual and anecdotal evidence from the past decade suggests that the personal and professional ethics of some have been deeply compromised. More...


Wulf von der Decken and Services Australia [2020] AICmr 55
Freedom of Information — Whether disclosure would involve disclosure of information concerning an organisation's business, commercial or financial affairs which would unreasonably affect that organisation — Whether disclosure would have a substantial adverse effect on the proper and efficient conduct of the operations of an agency — Whether disclosure of personal information is unreasonable — Whether an agency has discharged its onus — (CTH) Freedom of Information Act 1982 ss 11A(5), 22, 47E(d), 47F, 47G and 55D(1)

'VY' and Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (Freedom of information) [2020] AICmr 54
Freedom of Information — Whether reasonable steps taken to locate documents — (CTH) Freedom of Information Act 1982 s 24A

Lucas v Secretary, Department of Health [2020] FCA 1603
STATUTORY INTERPRETATION – whether space not directly physically connected to existing approved particular premises capable of being "expansion" of existing premises under s 90(3AE) National Health Act 1953 (Cth) – whether Secretary had power to determine application for expansion of particular premises in one strata unit to space in another unit separated by common property – whether test objective or question of fact and degree for determining if expansion of particular premises in which pharmacy business situated will occupy any of space already occupied
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW – whether Secretary had power to grant approval in name of corporation where application for approval to supply pharmaceutical benefits made in name of individual – whether Secretary had discretion to refuse approval under s 90(3D) National Health Act 1953 (Cth) on basis that recommendation of Australian Community Pharmacy Authority made incorrectly
Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (Cth) s 16; Health Legislation Amendment (Pharmacy Location Arrangements) Act 2006 (Cth); Judiciary Act 1903 (Cth) s 39B(1)

Transit Systems West Services Pty Ltd v Australian Rail, Tram and Bus Industry Union [2020] FCAFC 193
INDUSTRIAL LAW – Pt 6-3A of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) – where Fair Work Commission arbitrated dispute as to meaning of term in copied State award and Full Bench affirmed decision on appeal – whether Full Bench precluded by ss 739(5) and 768AI(3) of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) from considering surrounding circumstances in order to resolve an ambiguity about the objective common intention of the parties
ADMINISRATIVE LAW – where applicant seeks certiorari and declarations in respect of decision of Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission acting as private arbitrator – whether certiorari available – whether relief to be refused on discretionary grounds where basis for claim not raised before Commissioner or Full Bench – whether declaration sought inutile. Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) ss 562, 563, 739, 739(4), 739(5), 768AA, 768AI, 769AI(3); Federal Court of Australia Act 1976 (Cth) ss 21, 22, 23; Judiciary Act 1903 (Cth) s 39B

Stonehealth Pty Ltd v ZAA Ventures Pty Ltd as Trustee for the ZAA Investment Trust [2020] FCAFC 188
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW – appeal from decision of primary judge dismissing application for judicial review of decision of Australian Community Pharmacy Authority – decision to recommend that application for new pharmacy not be approved – meaning of "supermarket" under National Health (Australian Community Pharmacy Authority Rules) Determination 2018 (Cth) – whether primary judge erred in construing meaning of "supermarket" – appeal allowed. Acts Interpretation Act 1901 (Cth) s 15AA; Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (Cth) s 5
Legislation Act 2003 (Cth) s 13

ACN 154 520 199 Pty Ltd (in liquidation) v Commissioner of Taxation [2020] FCAFC 190
TAXATION – goods and services tax – precious metal – creditable acquisitions – creditable purpose –
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW – procedural fairness – where the Tribunal made adverse knowledge findings on the basis of two emails and the transcript of a compulsory examination that had not been the subject of any cross-examination or any submissions by the parties – whether the Tribunal denied the taxpayer procedural fairness – whether any denial of procedural fairness was material
TAXATION – goods and services tax – anti-avoidance provisions – where the Tribunal found (in the alternative to its conclusion regarding construction) that the anti-avoidance provisions applied – whether the Tribunal erred in its approach to the anti-avoidance provisions, in particular the issues of dominant purpose and principal effect
Acts Interpretation Act 1901 (Cth), s 15AA; Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975 (Cth), ss 33, 44

Commissioner of Taxation v Yeo as Liquidator of Ready Kit Cabinets Pty Ltd (in liq) [2020] FCAFC 199
STATUTORY INTERPRETATION – meaning of "by, or under the authority of the administrator" – issue of relevant source of authority for the acts done to give effect to the making of payments – text, context and purpose – extrinsic material – appeal dismissed. Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) s 435A, 445F, 451C, 588FE(2B), 588FE(2B)(d), 588FE(2B)(d)(i), 588FG; Corporations Amendment (Insolvency) Act 2007 (Cth); Explanatory Memorandum to the Corporations Amendment (Insolvency) Bill 2007 (Cth)

Warren; Chief Executive Officer, Services Australia and (Freedom of information) [2020] AATA 4557
(1) apart from any reference to the names of Mr Britton and Ms Harfield, the Risk Management Plan, dated 6 August 2015, Open Issues Summary, dated 2015, Progress Report dated 2016 and Issues Summary are exempt from disclosure under ss 47F and 11A of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 in so far as they reveal the names and telephone numbers of any individual identified in them and a signature
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION – review of decision of Australian Information Commissioner that documents are not exempt – whether documents conditionally exempt under section 47F of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 – whether access would involve unreasonable disclosure of personal information – whether public interest in releasing names and phone numbers – decision set aside and substituted

Ipswich City Council [2020] QIRC 194
EQUAL OPPORTUNITY AND -DISCRIMINATION - exemptions - sex discrimination - application to grant exemption under s 113(1) of the Anti Discrimination Act 1991 so the Applicant can recruit only female waste truck drivers - exercise of discretion
HUMAN RIGHTS - whether Queensland Industrial Relations Commission acts in an administrative capacity, within the meaning of the Human Rights Act 2019, when deciding to grant exemption - whether granting of the exemption sought affects a human right within the meaning of s 15(5) of the Human Rights Act 2019 - whether decision to grant exemption is compatible with human rights within the meaning of the Human Rights Act 2019 - purposive interpretation of s 113(1) of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 in a way that is compatible with human rights - application granted

Harris v Lagerroth; Harris Operations Pty Ltd v Lagerroth [2020] QDC 285
APPEAL AND NEW TRIAL – APPEAL – GENERAL PRINCIPLES – RIGHT OF APPEAL – NATURE OF RIGHT – where appeal is brought under s. 222 Justices Act 1886 (Qld)
CRIMINAL LAW – APPEAL – SENTENCE – where development permits were granted to the appellant authorising clearing of native vegetation on a large leasehold property – where areas were cleared outside the permitted area – where the appellant was convicted of directing clearing of native vegetation without a development permit – where the appellant had convictions recorded and fines of $250,000 and $50,000 imposed – where the appellant's conviction appeal was dismissed – where the appellant appeals against sentence – whether the learned magistrate's sentence is excessive – whether the learned magistrate erred having regard to a number of factors, including the appellant's plea of guilty, co-operation with investigation and antecedents – whether the appellant acted on a mistake of law – whether the mistake of law (if established) was adequately considered by the learned magistrate – whether the magistrate erred by failing to give proper weight to the evidence that no financial gain followed from the unlawful assessable development – whether the magistrate erred in recording convictions
Justices Act 1886 Qld ss 222(2)(c); 223; 223(1); 223(2); Sustainable Planning Act 2009 Qld ss578(1); Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 Qld s49




Australia's Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2020
Senate 12/11/2020 - Consequential on the Australia's Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) Bill 2020, the bill amends the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 to provide that decisions made under the Australia's Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) Act 2020 are not subject to judicial review; and Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975 to authorise the disclosure of protected information.

Australia's Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) Bill 2020
Senate 12/11/2020 - Introduced with the Australia's Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2020, the bill establishes a legislative scheme for Commonwealth engagement with arrangements between State or Territory governments and foreign governments, and their associated entities.

Electoral Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2020
Assent Act no: 95 Year: 2020 10/11/2020
Amends the: Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 to: clarify the interaction between federal, state and territory electoral funding and disclosure regimes following the High Court decision in Spence v Queensland [2019] HCA 15; make technical amendments in relation to entity registration and public election funding rules; and allow a senior Australian Electoral Commission staff member rather than a senior Divisional Returning Officer to be on the Redistribution Committee for the Australian Capital Territory; Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 and Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984 to amend various aspects of voting and scrutiny processes; and Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984 to extend the electronically assisted voting method to Australians working in Antarctica.


Electoral Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Act 2020
09/11/2020 - Act No. 95 of 2020 as made

Federal Court and Federal Circuit Court Amendment (Fees) Regulations 2020
11/11/2020 - This instrument amends the Federal Court and Federal Circuit Court Regulation 2012 to increase the application fees charged by the Federal Circuit Court for migration litigants, and introduce a partial fee exemption which allows individuals to pay a reduced application fee where paying the full fee would cause financial hardship.


Subordinate legislation reminder
No 144 Electoral Amendment Regulation 2020
5 Amendment of s 8 (Amount of policy development payment to which eligible registered political party is entitled—Act, s 240) (1) Section 5 commences on 1 January 2022

This publication does not deal with every important topic or change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader's specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice relevant to your circumstances please contact one of the named individuals listed.