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Flashcards in U3O1 Part B Deck (20)
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Reasons why laws need to change: Changing values

In order for law to remain acceptable to individuals in society it must change to keep up with changing values.
Relationships Act 2008 (Vic)
Views on de facto relationships and same sex couples have changed, the act establishes a register for the registration of domestic couples in Victoria.


Reasons why laws need to change: Advances in technology

New situations need to be covered by the law to reduce the opportunity for individuals and groups to be exploited or harmed.
Crimes Amendment (Identity Crime) Act 2009 (Vic)
Made to overcome the problem of individual's identity being stolen online.


Reasons why laws need to change: Protection of rights

When these rights are infringed, and injustices are unable to be resolved through the law, the law needs to change to deal with these injustices.
Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic)
To deal with discrimination in the workplace.



• Not connected to the law-making process
• Within the law-making structures


Pressure groups

Individuals joining together on a common interest to influence the government to change the law.



• A formal written request to the government for action in relation to a particular law that is considered outdated or unjust
• E-petitions are a petition signed online



• Also known as protests or rallies
• Held to alert government to the need for a change in the law



Allows for petitions and demonstrations to inform law makers of the need change a law by publicising the issue.


Petitions: strengths and weaknesses

• Can make direct contact with the government when petition is tabled
• Can show a high degree of support when a lot of signatures are obtained
• Can arouse public awareness of an issue when collecting signatures

• Many petitions are presented to parliament and parliament cannot respond to them all
• It may be difficult to obtain large numbers of signatures
• They are not as visual as other methods such as demonstrations so less likely to gain media support


Demonstrations: strengths and weaknesses

• If numbers are large, the media is likely to report on the demonstration
• With media support, they are likely to gain wide support for a cause
• Can arouse public awareness of the issue

• They have to be publicised well to get the numbers to attend to make am impression
• Unless there is ongoing support and media attention, they are likely to have little effect
• They are time consuming to organise


Media: strengths and weaknesses

• Can gain a groundswell of support for an issue if the issue is widely supported, such as through radio, television, newspapers and blogs
• The government is fully aware of the issues that the media is covering and can gauge public support about an issue through the media
• Without the support of the media, other methods of influencing changes in the law will have little effect

• Can show that there are very strong conflicting views on an issue, which will deter government from changing laws
• Government will only take on board an issue if it fits with their legislative program and there is a high level of community support
• Letters to the editor, newspaper reports, radio, television and blogs will only be influential if public gets behind issue and demands a change in the law


VLRC Main Role

Victorian Law Reform Commission (VLRC), established on 6th April 2001, independent, government funded organisation. The main role of the VLRC is to undertake research and make recommendations for changes in the law on issues that are referred to the VLRC by the state attorney general. (Reference)


VLRC Current inquiry: Jury Empanelment (May 2014)

1. Peremptory challenges
2. Calling of jurors by name or number
3. Operation of S48 of the Juries Act (additional jurors during deliberation)
4. Reducing juror number to 12 (criminal) 6 (civil)
1. Peremptory challenges should still remain, however it should be reduced from six to three for criminal and from three to two for civil.
2. Prospective jurors should be identified in court by number only.
3. Section 48 of the Juries Act 2000 (Vic) should be repealed.
4. If recommendation 14 is upheld then there will be a reduction of jury members.


VLRC Completed Enquiry: Abortion (August 2001)

Processes used:
The VLRC’s research included
• Receiving more than 500 submissions from individuals, groups and organisations
• Holding more than 30 meetings with interested parties – some of these parties went on to make submissions
• Using a panel of medical experts to assist the VLRC
• Conducting national surveys and marker research to ascertain community attitudes on abortion
The VLRC handed down its report to the attorney general in March 2008.
• Repeal the relevant section of the Crimes Act and decriminalise abortion
• Choose from three options to decriminalise abortions
• Require that health providers inform patients of their conscientious objections and provide the patients with referrals to another provider
• There should be mandatory counseling
• There should be a cooling off period
• An abortion should be unlawful, unless performed by, or supervised by, a registered medical practitioner
Legislative Response
The Abortion Law Reform Act 2008 (Vic) reformed the law relating to abortion, put in place regulations in relation to health practitioners performing abortions, and amended the Crimes Act 1958.


VLRC: strengths and weaknesses

• Government has asked the VLRC to investigate an area and therefore the government is likely to act on its report on the need for a change

• Can only investigate issues referred to it by the government or minor issues that it can look into without a reference


Strengths and weaknesses of parliament as a law making body

• It's parliament's primary role to make laws as they are the supreme law making body
• Parliament is elected by the people and therefore responsible to the people
• Parliament can change the law as the need arises

• Parliament is not always sitting and so cannot always change the law as the need arises. Parliaments are restricted to making law only within their jurisdictions
• There are often conflicting views within society that hinder parliament in the law-making process, e.g. same sex marriage
• Parliament may not be able to force all future circumstances and laws can become outdated


Initiating legislation

• Problem presented by the community in which the government thinks should be addressed by a change in the law
• Government departments review laws and the need for change (may employ VLRC)
• Cabinet ministers decide on which laws need to be changed
• Parliamentary committees investigate various areas and report to parliament any recommendations
• If a minister wants to propose a change in the law and is not a member of cabinet, responsibility of minister to contact a member of cabinet to have a proposal brought to the notice of cabinet


Drafting Legislation

1. The Office of Parliamentary Counsel (OPC – Commonwealth) Office of Chief Parliamentary Counsel (OCPC – Victorian) drafts legislation
2. The role of the parliamentary counsel involve
a. Ensure legal effectiveness
b. Check for compatibility with the Charter Human Rights and Responsibilities
3. Upon agreement from government department, the bill is submitted to relevant minister for approval
4. Upon approval, the bill is sent to department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (State level Department of Premier and Cabinet)


Problems drafting legislation

• Mistakes with technical vocabulary
• Time constraints
• Meaning of words change over time


Scrutiny of bills – Victoria

• Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations
Committee considers all bills and reports to parliament any breaches on
- Rights or freedoms
- Inappropriate use of legislative power
- Incompatibility with the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities (statement of compatibility)
- Interference with the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court
• Upon second reading of the bill the senior legal adviser of the committee carefully examines all aspect of the bill