Right to Know: New South Wales' freedom of information regime
In this article, we take a look at the New South Wales' freedom of information regime, and the "Right to Know Week NSW 2021" to be held in conjunction with the upcoming International Access to Information Day.
What is International Access to Information Day?
International Access to Information Day, originally championed by the United Nations, is held annually on 28 September. It is intended to increase public awareness of the rights of individuals to access government documents and information.
The rights of individuals to access government information in Australia is enshrined in freedom of information (FOI) legislation. Legislation exists in all Australian jurisdictions to provide rights to access information and documents held by Ministers, government agencies and government enterprises. In New South Wales, that legislation is the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW) (GIPA Act).
The GIPA Act is administered by the New South Wales Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC). In conjunction with International Access to Information Day, the IPC runs a campaign known as Right to Know Week. In 2021, the IPC's theme for Right to Know Week is "Open by design: Integrity through greater transparency and accountability in government."1 Throughout Right to Know Week, the IPC will host online events on FOI, the role of data in government policy and decision-making, and the value of open government.
In anticipation of International Access to Information Day, the Association of Information Access Commissioners, which includes the IPC, also recently released an animation highlighting the importance of access to information about government decision-making. The Commissioners highlighted that providing such information encourages governments to make better decisions and to be more transparent, open and accountable, while also strengthening public trust in government processes.
Freedom of information in New South Wales
The object of the GIPA Act is to open government information to the public in order to maintain and advance a system of responsible and representative government. This is to be achieved by:
- both authorising and encouraging the proactive public release of government information;
- providing the public with a legal right to access government information; and
- providing that access to government information is restricted only when there is an overriding public interest for that information not to be provided.
Therefore the right to seek information through FOI requests is the key right in the GIPA Act, however proactive public release of information, without the need to make an application, is also supported.
The IPC's Annual Report for 2019/202 stated that the IPC's Community Attitudes Survey concluded that a significant majority of respondents thought that access to government data was necessary to support both transparent and accountable decision making by government agencies. That Annual Report also noted that the number of complaints received by the IPC in 2019/20 decreased from 2018/19. The IPC's separate Report on the Operation of the GIPA Act 2019/203 (GIPA Act Report) stated that, over the year, 91% of GIPA Act decisions were made within the required statutory time frame and that rates of refusal of access requests under the GIPA Act dropped from 8% to 3%, despite a 9% rise in the number of applications received. This indicates that regulated government agencies and entities are responsive to requests under the GIPA Act.
Recent development at the Commonwealth level
In August 2021, the Commonwealth Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) heard an application made under the Commonwealth Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) relating to access to the minutes of two National Cabinet meetings.4
The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) argued that the documents were exempt from disclosure under the FOI Act because they are official documents of the National Cabinet, which is appropriately characterised as a committee of the federal Cabinet. If this was accepted, the documents would be exempt from disclosure by virtue of section 34 of the FOI Act. In addition, PM&C argued, release of the documents could reasonably be expected to cause damage to relations between the Commonwealth and a State, making them conditionally exempt from disclosure under section 47B of the FOI Act.
In a detailed decision, Justice White concluded that neither ground for exemption was available, primarily because the National Cabinet was not in fact a committee of the federal Cabinet.
Cabinet confidentiality under the GIPA Act
The GIPA Act has its own equivalent of the exemptions under the FOI Act that were unsuccessfully relied upon by PM&C. Under section 14 and Schedule 1 of the GIPA Act a conclusive presumption of an overriding public interest against disclosure exists for each of the following Cabinet documents (including drafts and extracts):
- an official record of Cabinet;
- prepared for the dominant purpose of being submitted to Cabinet, where the document is either so submitted or is or was proposed to be submitted;
- prepared after Cabinet's deliberation or decision on a matter that would tend to reveal information about those deliberations;
- prepared for the purpose of being submitted to Cabinet for Cabinet's approval; or
- prepared before or after Cabinet's deliberation or decision on a matter and which tends to reveal the position or potential position of any particular Minister in relation to that matter.
Section 14 also provides that a public interest consideration that may be taken into account in determining whether or not to provide disclosure under the New South Wales FOI regime is whether the disclosure could reasonably be expected to prejudice relations with another government.
Of course, the minutes of the National Cabinet meetings that were the subject of the dispute before the Commonwealth AAT case could equally have been sought from the New South Wales Premier under the GIPA Act. Given the characterisation of the National Cabinet by the AAT, it is not clear that the New South Wales Premier would have been any more successful in arguing under the GIPA Act that she did not need to disclose the minutes of the relevant meetings.
What does this mean for New South Wales?
As mentioned previously, between 2018/19 and 2019/20, there was a 9% rise in the number of FOI applications made under the GIPA Act. It is likely that this upward trend will be evident when data is released for 2020/21.
The media, public interest groups and even politicians are increasingly challenging the use of FOI exemptions at both the State and Commonwealth level, and seeking more robust enforcement of FOI legislation. The 2019 "Right to Know" campaign co-ordinated by Australia's major media organisations notably called for legislative reform in light of delays and a perceived over-reliance on broad exemptions to refuse access to documents requested under FOI legislation.
Increasing requests for the release of information, as well as increased scrutiny on the reliance on FOI exemptions, makes it clear that New South Wales government departments, agencies and enterprises should be conscious of the need to ensure robust reasons support decisions not to release documents under the GIPA Act.
In the media
Privacy concerns cast shadow over vaccination
The lack of a clear blueprint for vaccination 'passports' that addresses public concerns around safety and security risks is undermining the implementation of vaccine mandates, warns the Australia Institute's Centre for Responsible Technology (10 September 2021). More...
Thousands watch live stream of court cases challenging
mandatory COVID-19 vaccines for NSW workers
Lawyers say NSW's mandatory COVID-19 vaccines order or frontline workers breaches the right to privacy, as the Supreme Court hears four separate cases against the rules (09 September 2021). More...
Review of the Parliamentary Business Resources Act 2017
and Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority Act 2017
The Finance Minister announces the independent review of the Parliamentary Business Resources Act 2017 and Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority Act 2017. The Explanatory Memorandum of the PBR Bill advises that the purpose of periodic independent reviews is to ensure the Act continues to meet its objectives of improving the accountability and transparency of parliamentary business resources (09 September 2021). More...
HRLC: Human rights charter needed to protect press
freedom and public debate in Australia
Australia's journalists and whistleblowers are under increasing threat and urgently need better legal protections, the Human Rights Law Centre has advised in a submission to a Senate inquiry examining free speech and press freedom (09 September 2021). More...
HRLC: COVID-19 sees huge increase in support for a
charter of human rights: Poll
There has been a dramatic increase in support for a charter of human rights compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic, new data reveals (09 September 2021). More...
HRLC: 1,000 days of government inaction on federal
It has been 1,000 days since the Morrison government committed to introduce a federal anti-corruption commission, yet there has been no movement on this reform, which would be a major step forward for democratic accountability and political integrity in Australia (9 September 2021). More...
Privacy tsar wants police blocked from COVID check-in
Australia's privacy watchdog says police access to COVID-19 check-in app histories has the potential to "undermine" contact tracing efforts and should be prohibited. If law-enforcement access remained unconstrained, as remains the case in some states and territories, it could discourage individuals from providing accurate information (07 September 2021). More...
'Extraordinarily dangerous': Backlash to
government's new hacking powers grows
Australia's "extraordinary" new hacking powers for law enforcement authorities represent the next step in the "explosion of the surveillance state", according to a leading digital rights advocate, with backlash against the recently passed legislation gaining pace (07 September 2021). More...
New laws set to tackle religious discrimination
The NSW Government will introduce a bill in Parliament to amend the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW), adding religion to existing protected grounds of disability, sex, race, age, marital or domestic status, homosexuality, transgender status and carer's responsibilities. These reforms will see NSW join other states and territories in making religious discrimination unlawful (07 September 2021). More...
AIC: New study identifies cyber strategies with the
potential to identify and protect victims of child abuse
The Australian Institute of Criminology has released a paper that identifies cyber strategies that have the potential to identify victims of child sexual abuse material and detect offenders (07 September 2021). More...
HRLC: Morrison government must commit to an open,
merit-based selection process for Australian Human Rights
The Human Rights Law Centre criticised the lack of an open, merit-based process for the appointment of Australia's newest Human Rights Commissioner (06 September 2021). More...
Commission welcomes appointment of Human Rights
The Australian Human Rights Commission welcomes the Government's decision to fill the role of Human Rights Commissioner, a role which is a foundational one to the Commission (05 September 2021). More...
New taskforce to protect vulnerable children in
A new child protection taskforce will work to prevent vulnerable children slipping through the cracks, by better coordinating services and support throughout the lockdown and beyond (06 September 2021). More...
AHRC: Statement on passage of Sex Discrimination and
Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amendment Bill 2021
The AHRC welcomes the passage of the Sex Discrimination and Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amendment Bill 2021. The Bill contains important reforms to address sexual harassment in Australian workplaces which were recommended by the AHRC following its world-leading national inquiry into sexual harassment in Australian workplaces, Respect@Work (03 September 2021). More...
Commencement of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of
The Morrison Government welcomes the commencement of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (01 September 2021). More...
ACMA requests internet service providers block more
illegal gambling websites
Following numerous complaints about these services, the ACMA undertook investigations that found them to be operating in breach of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (01 September 2021). More...
DPC rolls out PS vaccine directions
The Department of Premier and Cabinet has issued a circular to guide agencies in determining if their employees should be directed to be vaccinated against COVID-19 (31 August 2021). More...
In practice and courts
APS pay rates in line for a change
The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) has issued a circular setting out changes to APS pay rates to apply between 1 September this year and 31 August 2022. The full circular 2021/04 can be accessed on the APSC website at this PS News link.
Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia - rules of
Court - family law, general federal law and bankruptcy
The Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia and Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia has advised that new rules regarding the family law and child support jurisdictions and general federal law and bankruptcy proceedings in the FCFCOA have been made and will commence on 1 September 2021. A brief summary of the new rule instruments are outlined here (updated 27 August 2021).
Update to the family law profession: Commencement of the
The Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia released information outlining changes to court operations that will occur on the commencement of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA) from 1 September 2021. The attached provides an overview of changes to the FCFCOA's harmonised rules, practice directions, forms and website.
ACMA consultation: Consumer vulnerability: Expectations
for the telco industry - consultation 27/2021
We want to create a statement of expectations for the telco industry to improve outcomes for vulnerable consumers. Closing date 08 September 2021. Click here for more information.
Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional
Development and Communications: Draft Online Safety (Basic Online
Safety Expectations) Determination 2021 consultation
We are seeking submissions on an exposure draft of the Online Safety (Basic Online Safety Expectations) Determination 2021. The draft determination sets out the government's demands for providers that offer a social media service, "relevant electronic service" or "designated internet service", including the nine principle-based "core expectations" included in the Act. View the consultation and consultation paper. Submissions to the consultation close on 15 October 2021.
Law Council update
The Law Council produces a fortnightly newsletter which highlights the Law Council's important activities and advocacy, along with any relevant media and events stakeholders would be interested in. Read the 3 September 2021 update.
Law Council of Australia submissions
06 September 2021 - Law Council
Developing the next national plan to reduce violence against women and their children
06 September 2021 - Law Council
Operationalising the national strategic framework for information sharing between the family law and family violence and child protection systems
The AAT Bulletin is a weekly publication containing a list of recent AAT decisions and information relating to appeals against AAT decisions. Read Issue No. 18/2021, 6 September 2021.
Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation
Constitution Alteration (Freedom of Expression and Freedom of the Press) 2019
Status: Accepting submissions. Date referred: 17 June 2021. Submissions closed: 20 August 2021. Reporting date: 31 December 2021.
Select Committee on Foreign Interference through Social
Select Committee on Foreign Interference through Social Media to inquire into and report on the risk posed to Australia's democracy by foreign interference through social media. The committee is to present its final report on or before the second sitting day of May 2022. The closing date for submissions is 31 October 2021.
NSW Court appointments
Sydney silk to become Supreme Court judge - 08 September 2021
Children's Court president to head NSW Local Court - 01 September 2021
JUDCOM: Civil Trials Bench Book
1 September 2021 - the sample orders and accompanying text of the Civil Trials Bench Book are produced as guidelines only. Click here for more information.
JUDCOM: Local Court Bench Book
1 September 2021 - the Local Court Bench Book is produced as a guideline only and is not intended to lay down or develop any principles of law. Click here for more information.
Supreme Court appointments
11 August 2021: New Chief Judge at Common Law appointment
COVID-19: Information for attending Court - 10 September
The New South Wales Bar Association's consolidated guide to COVID-19-related court arrangements has again been updated in terms of recent developments and includes a District Court update. Click here for more information.
Equitable briefing report due 30 September 2021
A reminder to all barristers who have adopted the Equitable Briefing Policy that you are required to submit your FY21 report to the Law Council of Australia by 30 September 2021. Click here for more information.
Costs disputes - uniform law - indexed amounts
Sections 291, 292 and 293 of the Legal Profession Uniform Law (NSW) relate to costs disputes. The amounts have again been indexed for the financial year 1/7/2021 - 30/6/2022. The Legal Profession Uniform Law (Indexed Amounts) Notice 2021 has been published and is available here.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
The NSW Government believes that the NSW Government can use AI to benefit the community and is taking actions to ensure that AI is used safely, ethically and effectively. We have an AI strategy that outlines our vision for the use of AI, and ensures transparency, fairness and accountability. Have your say to 31 December 2021 here.
Published - articles, papers, reports
Cyber strategies used to combat child sexual abuse
AIC: 07 September 2021. Reviews existing research on cyber strategies to disrupt and prevent CSAM offending. The study identified five key cyber strategies. The report is available here.
Privacy needs to be upfront in pandemic debate
OAIC Commissioner: 7 September 2021. An article by Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk, published by The Australian on 15 August 2021. Click here to read the article.
National COVID-19 privacy principles
OAIC: 2 September 2021. The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner and state and territory privacy commissioners and ombudsmen have produced the following universal privacy principles to support a nationally consistent approach to solutions and initiatives designed to address the ongoing risks related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to read more.
Corporate plan 2021-22
OAIC: 31 August 2021. Angelene Falk, Australian Information Commissioner, present the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner's corporate plan 2021-22, for the 2021-22 to 2024-25 reporting periods, as required under section 35(1)(b) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013. Read more here.
Workforce planning in the Australian Security
ANAO Report No 2: 08 September 2021. The audit objective was to assess the effectiveness of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation's workforce planning to support key activities. Read more here.
Audit quality report 2020-21
ANAO: 3 September 2021. The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) corporate plan is the ANAO's key strategic planning document. It guides our operating environment and sets out how we will deliver on our purpose. This report also includes the achievement of the quality assurance strategy and deliverables set out in the Quality Assurance Framework and Plan 2020-21. Read the audit quality report 2020-21.
The effect of appointing additional judges on District
BOSCAR Crime and Justice Bulletin No. CJB241: September 2021. While the DC7 reforms have only generated a small increase in the number of monthly finalisations in some courts, they appear to have reduced the NSW DC's reliance on acting judges. Read more here.
XV' and Services Australia
(Freedom of information)  AICmr
Freedom of information - whether reasonable steps taken to find documents - (CTH) Freedom of Information Act 1982 section 24A.
'XM' and Australian Financial
Security Authority (No 2) (Freedom of
information)  AICmr
Freedom of information - whether reasonable steps taken to find documents - (CTH) Freedom of Information Act 1982 section 24A.
Fairfax Media Publications Pty Ltd v
Voller; Nationwide News Pty Limited v Voller; Australian News
Channel Pty Ltd v Voller  HCA
Appeal dismissed with costs.
Defamation - publication - where appellants were media companies - where each appellant created, operated and maintained public Facebook page - where each appellant created posts on Facebook page hyperlinking to news stories referring to respondent - where third-party Facebook users left "comments" on appellants' posts - where comments alleged to be defamatory of respondent - whether appellants "publishers" of comments - whether intention to communicate defamatory matter necessary for appellants to be publishers.
Athavle v State of New South
Wales  FCA 1075
HUMAN RIGHTS - freedom of religion - COVID-19 pandemic - applicants sought urgent interlocutory injunction restraining enforcement of NSW and Victorian public health orders (the impugned instruments) to allow observance of Jewish religious holidays - whether serious question to be tried - whether balance of convenience favoured injunction - where orders sought could have dire consequences for public health and third parties -undertaking as to damages inadequate - interlocutory application dismissed.
HIGH COURT AND FEDERAL COURT - interpretation of Constitution - accrued jurisdiction - whether applicants' federal claims merely colourable - borderline case - whether federal claim is bona fide - merely because federal claim is untenable does not deprive Court of jurisdiction - federal jurisdiction enlivened.
STATUTORY INTERPRETATION - whether "principle of legality" applies to read down impugned instruments - whether public health orders unreasonable or disproportionate - common law right to freedom of religion - where purpose of impugned instruments to restrict rights and freedoms to protect public health - where impugned instruments involve complex policy choices - where relief sought invites Court to rewrite impugned instruments - separation of powers between executive and judiciary - no constructional choice available - no serious question to be tried and balance of convenience does not favour applicants.
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW - whether impugned instruments constitutionally invalid - whether implied constitutional right to religious freedom restricting state legislative power - implied right to religious freedom would be contrary to express terms of section 116 of the Constitution - preamble to Constitution does not support implication - no serious question to be tried and balance of convenience does not favour applicants.
BDR21 v Australian Broadcasting
Corporation  FCA
PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - application pursuant to rr 16.21 and 26.01 of the Federal Court Rules 2011 (Cth) and section 31A(2) of the Federal Court of Australia Act 1976 (Cth) to strike out and/or give summary judgment in relation to parts of amended statement of claim - whether reasonable cause of action disclosed - whether any reasonable prospect of success - where applicant alleges reprisal action pursuant to section 13 of the Public Interest Disclosures Act 2013 (Cth) (PID Act) - whether allegations in document subject to parliamentary privilege can be relied upon as disclosable conduct for purposes of whistleblower protections in the PID Act - whether unlawful to adduce evidence of material facts of alleged public interest disclosures by reason of section 16(3) of the Parliamentary Privileges Act 1987 (Cth) - whether document prepared for purposes of or incidental to the transacting of the business of a parliamentary committee - whether material facts require evidence, questions or submissions concerning proceedings in Parliament - whether Parliament intended section 24 of the PID Act to abrogate or modify parliamentary privilege - application granted.
Fahid Rahman v Rodney Kent and Tim
Orlizki t/a Kent Attorneys  NSWSC
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW - judicial review - costs orders - jurisdictional error - error on face of the record - chorley exception - recovery of professional costs by self-represented solicitors - jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under section 69 Supreme Court Act 2005 (NSW).
Secretary, NSW Department of Education
v Gabriel's Family Day Care Pty Ltd
 NSWCATAP 263
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW - children (education and care services) national law - cancellation of provider approval - whether section 31 (e) ground for cancellation included breach of condition to comply with National Law imposed by section 19 (2) - multiple alleged breaches - whether systemic failure to comply with condition of provider approval - whether alleged breaches established - whether alleged breaches sufficient to warrant cancellation of provider approval - whether Briginshaw principle applicable.
APPEAL - adequacy of reasons - whether the Tribunal erred in failing to deal with the essence of the case for cancellation.
Sydney Seaplanes Pty Ltd v
Page  NSWCA 204
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW - Commonwealth and state relations - inconsistency of laws - Supreme Court proceedings pursuant to section 11(2) of the Federal Courts (State Jurisdiction) Act 1999 (NSW) - where those proceedings are linked to incompetent Federal Court proceedings but operate independently of them - where section 34 of the Civil Aviation (Carriers' Liability) Act 1959 (Cth) operates to extinguish any claim for damages under section 5 of the Civil Aviation (Carriers' Liability) Act 1967 (NSW) if not brought within two years after an accident - whether order made under section 11(2) of the Federal Courts (State Jurisdiction) Act 1999 (NSW) undermined the purpose of section 34 of the Civil Aviation (Carriers' Liability) Act 1959 (Cth) - order under section 11(2) not a discretionary extension of time to bring a proceeding otherwise out of time.
LIMITATION OF ACTIONS - operation of bar - action for compensation for death under section 5 of the Civil Aviation (Carriers' Liability) Act 1967 (NSW) - where section 34 of the Civil Aviation (Carriers' Liability) Act 1959 (Cth) provides that the right to damages is extinguished if a party does not bring an action within two years of an aviation accident - characterisation of statutory bar - whether section 34 is a "limitation law" within the meaning of section 11(1) of the Federal Courts (State Jurisdiction) Act 1999 (NSW) - where the law recognises a distinction between the barring of a right of action and its extinguishment.
STATUTORY INTERPRETATION - contextual approach - context to be considered in the first order - context understood in a broad sense - including the existing state of the law, legislative purpose, legislative history and extrinsic materials.
STATUTORY INTERPRETATION - departure from literal meaning - where literal reading of "relevant order" in section 11(1) of the Federal Courts (State Jurisdiction) Act 1999 (NSW) does not conform to the legislative purpose - where purpose determined by reference to immediate context and extrinsic materials.
STATUTORY INTERPRETATION - legislative purpose - remedial legislation - where statute passed to remedy the effect of the decision of the High Court of Australia in Re Wakim; Ex parte McNally (1999) 198 CLR 511; .
HCA 27 - whether "want of jurisdiction" in section 11(1) of the Federal Courts (State Jurisdiction) Act 1999 (NSW) refers to the conferral of jurisdiction held to be invalid by the High Court.
Rahman v Health Secretary in respect
of the Sydney Local Health District and the South West Sydney Local
Health District  NSWIRComm
EMPLOYMENT AND INDUSTRIAL LAW - termination - statutory rights - unfair dismissal - security officer intervened in patient restraint - absence of direction to intervene - consideration of gravity of physical conduct - verbal altercation with co-worker following the restraint - whether conduct was misconduct warranting termination of employment - impact of termination at one Local Health District on employment at another - whether dismissal harsh, unreasonable or unjust.
Christopher v Independent Commission
Against Corruption  NSWCATAD
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW - access to government information - invalid access application - excluded information.
Sex Discrimination and Fair Work (Respect
at Work) Amendment Bill 2021
Assent Act no: 104. Year: 2021. 10 Sept 2021 - implements certain recommendations of the Australian Human Rights Commission report, Respect@Work: National inquiry into sexual Harassment in Australian workplaces by amending the: Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 to amend the definition of 'unlawful discrimination'; and extend the period of time between an alleged incident and the lodging of a complaint in relation to the president's discretion to terminate a complaint.
Commonwealth Electoral Amendment
(Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021
On 2 September 2021 the Senate referred the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021 for inquiry and report by 14 October 2021. The closing date for submissions is 20 September 2021.
Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity
of Elections) Bill 2021
Introduced Senate 01 Sept 2021 - a bill to amend the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 to provide for the routine auditing of the electronic component of Australian federal elections and the provision of voter identification. This bill does not cover referendums.
Charter of the United Nations Amendment
Finally passed both Houses - 02 Sept 2021 - amends the Charter of the United Nations Act 1945 to: Specify that certain counter-terrorism financial sanctions lists and revocations be made by legislative instrument; and confirm the validity of action that has been taken, or which may need to be taken, in respect of conduct in relation to existing counter-terrorism financial sanctions listings that were made but not registered on the Federal Register of Legislation at the time of their making.
Courts and Tribunals Legislation Amendment
(2021 Measures No. 1) Bill 2021
Senate - 3rd reading - 02 Sept 2021 - amends the: A New Tax System (Family Assistance) (Administration) Act 1999, Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975, Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988, Paid Parental Leave Act 2010 and Social Security (Administration) Act 1999 to standardise, across all divisions, the powers of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) to issue summonses to require persons to give evidence or produce documents; Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975 in relation to: procedural fairness; alternative dispute resolution processes; constitution and reconstitution of the AAT; dismissal powers; correction of errors; appointments, authorisations and assignments; taxation of costs; and protection and immunity of reviewers in the Immigration Assessment Authority; and more.
Independent National Security Legislation
Monitor Amendment Bill 2021
Senate 2nd reading - 02 Sept 2021 - amends the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor Act 2010 to: Enable the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor (INSLM) to report on own-motion inquiries in standalone reports; provide that the INSLM's annual report may include information relating to the performance of the INSLM's functions in relation to a referral from the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security; specify reporting arrangements for statutory reviews conducted by the INSLM; provide a framework for the engagement of staff (including contractors) to assist the INSLM in the performance of its functions or exercise of its powers; and provide current and former staff of the INSLM with certain legal protections during the course of assisting the INSLM with performing functions or exercising powers of the INSLM.
Crimes Amendment (Remissions of Sentences)
On 26 August 2021, the Senate referred the Crimes Amendment (Remissions of Sentences) Bill 2021 to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by 14 October 2021. The deadline for submissions to this inquiry is 17 September 2021.
No Requirement for Medical Treatment
(Including Experimental Injections) Without Consent (Implementing
Article 6 of the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human
Rights) Bill 2021
HR 30 August 2021 - although Australia is signatory to the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights, the articles of this Declaration do not form part of Australian law. 4. Australians are currently not receiving 'adequate information' to enable them to give 'free and informed consent' in regard to the administration of preventative medical intervention (the COVID vaccinations).
Acts - 07 September 2021
Foreign Intelligence Legislation Amendment Act
Act No. 95 of 2021 as made
Electoral Legislation Amendment (Party Registration
Integrity) Act 2021
Act No. 94 of 2021 as made
Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Offences
and Preventing Multiple Voting) Act 2021
Act No. 93 of 2021 as made
Electoral Legislation Amendment (Counting, Scrutiny
and Operational Efficiencies) Act 2021
Act No. 92 of 2021 as made
Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Sunsetting
Review and Other Measures) Act 2021
Act No. 88 of 2021 as made
Broadcasting Services (Parental Lock)
Amendment Technical Standard 2021 (No.2)
06/09/2021 - this instrument amends the Broadcasting Services (Parental Lock) Technical Standard 2020 to correct a technical legal flaw in the definition of domestic digital television receiver that was included by the Broadcasting Services (Parental Lock) Amendment Technical Standard 2021 (No. 1).
Biosecurity (Human Biosecurity Emergency)
(Human Coronavirus with Pandemic Potential) Variation (Extension
No. 3) Instrument 2021
02/09/201 - this instrument amends the Biosecurity (Human Biosecurity Emergency) (Human Coronavirus with Pandemic Potential) Declaration 2020 to extend the human biosecurity emergency period for a further 3 months until 17 December 2021.
Marriage (Celebrancy Qualifications or
Skills) Amendment (Guidelines) Determination
01/09/2021 - this instrument amends the Marriage (Celebrancy Qualifications or Skills) Determination 2018 to include a reference to the Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961 for Authorised Celebrants September 2021 as a training material to be utilised in the delivery of the Certificate IV in Celebrancy.
Federal Circuit and Family Court of
Australia Legislation (Consequential Amendments and Other Measures)
30/09/2021 - this instrument amends family law and court-related regulations to ensure that they continue to operate effectively following the commencement of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia Act 2021 and the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Act 2021. It also makes minor and consequential amendments to other Commonwealth regulations to reflect the commencement of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.
Federal Circuit and Family Court of
Australia (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions)
30/09/2021 - this instrument provides transitional rules in respect of amendments to the Federal Court and Federal Circuit Court Regulation 2012 and the Family Law (Fees) Regulation 2012 made by the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia Legislation (Consequential Amendments and Other Measures) Regulations 2021.
Federal Circuit and Family Court of
Australia (Division 2) (Family Law) Rules 2021
30/09/2021 - these Rules adopt the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Family Law) Rules 2021 to apply in family law and child support proceedings in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Division 2), in order to harmonise the rules of court that apply across the federal family law and child support jurisdictions.
Family Law (State and Territory Courts)
30/09/2021 - this instrument adopts the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Family Law) Rules 2021 to apply to state and territory courts exercising family law jurisdiction, in order to harmonise the rules of court that apply to all courts when exercising family law jurisdiction (with the exclusion of Western Australia).
Regulations and other miscellaneous instruments
Administrative Arrangements (Administrative Changes-Miscellaneous) Order (No 2) 2021 (2021-524) - published LW 10 September 2021
Public Health Amendment (COVID-19 Penalty Notice Offences) Regulation (No 4) 2021 (2021-522) - published LW 6 September 2021
Residential Tenancies Amendment (COVID-19 Pandemic Emergency Response) Regulation (No 2) 2021 (2021-527) - published LW 10 September 2021
Private Health Facilities Amendment (COVID-19 Prescribed Period) Regulation (No 2) 2021 (2021-506) - published LW 3 September 2021
Residential Apartment Buildings (Compliance and Enforcement Powers) Amendment (Miscellaneous) Regulation 2021 (2021-510) - published LW 3 September 2021
1 See details about Right to Know Week 2021
4 Patrick v Secretary, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (Freedom of Information)  AATA 2719.
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.