Smoking is bad. Big tobacco is evil. These truisms are as entwined as pies and sauce. Therefore, the plain packaging of cigarette packets must be a progressive step, given tobacco companies have spent tens of millions of dollars fighting the idea. Yesterday, the High Court made such legislation binding.
Even smokers might gloat at the idea of tobacco companies being flogged in a courtroom. And Australia, once again, gets a gold medal for showing the world how it should be done, which is a step up at least from some of ourl male swimmers.
It was a “victory for all families who had lost someone to a tobacco-related disease” said a Gillard Government press release. It was “a relief for every parent”. “For anyone who has ever lost someone, this is for you.” Cigarettes, it seemed, have been reinvented.
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Fed up with the chances of Federal Parliament passing a gay marriage bill this year, marriage equality campaigners have turned their attention to two new arenas: the States and the High Court.
The weekend before last, Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings announced her state would legalise gay marriage if the state parliament says yes. And she was joined at the weekend by South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill, who has thrown his support behind similar plans in his state.
Depending on how it all pans out in the Tasmanian Parliament, gay couples could be getting married as early as this year.
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At a guess you could probably assume that none of our seven High Court judges lives in Merrylands, in Sydney’s west, where the Nomads and Hells Angels are engaged in what the police reassuringly describe not as a bikie gang war but merely “tit for tat violence”.
It is also unlikely that any of these eminent jurists lives in Northmead, where an innocent woman had her house strafed with bullets while she was sleeping last week in a zany address mix-up by a bikie who was having trouble reading his UBD.
Presumably, none of the judges lives in Adelaide’s north-western suburb of Semaphore where an 11-year-old boy, the son of a former member of the Finks, was shot in the leg while he slept during a home invasion last month.
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There is a certain evil logic behind Tony Abbott’s offer to work side-by-side with Julia Gillard to fix the asylum seeker issue. Due to the vagaries of minority government plenty of other members of this shambolic parliament have had a go at playing prime minister, so it’s only fair that Abbott joins the Windsors and the Bandts, the Oakeshotts and the Wilkies, in determining government policy.
Abbott’s offer to work with Gillard is excellent politics in its cheapest form. By extending an invitation to Gillard to support the amendment of the Migration Act to allow offshore processing, Abbott looks like the very model of civilised bipartisanship. In reality it’s a political ploy aimed at drawing even greater attention to the fact that the Gillard Government has failed, again, on border protection.
None of the options Julia Gillard has at her disposal to resolve the asylum seeker problem are politically palatable. Nor are they politically sellable, not in a climate where, according to Newspoll, just 12 per cent of Australians say that Labor is doing a good job on border protection, and are twice as likely to support the Coalition as the party which could best deal with the issue.
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Should we ban the live export of asylum seekers?
In a compelling majority, the High Court seemed to think so, issuing a permanent injunction against the Commonwealth Government, barring them from pursuing the current proposal to trade asylum seekers with Malaysia.
Despite numerous changes to the Migration Act over the decade to expand administrative power, the Act could not be used to justify the transaction of asylum seekers as if they were export goods.
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In ruling the so-called ‘Malaysia Solution’ invalid, the High Court has delivered a spectacular blow to the beleaguered Gillard government in one of its most vulnerable policy areas – asylum seekers.
After an election in which the Opposition almost knocked off a first-term government on a platform that contained a promise to “stop the boats”, the Immigration Minister Chris Bowen was tasked with devising a credible solution to the problem of unlawful arrivals by non-citizens.
The desperate need for new thinking from the government was only underscored by the tragic loss of life when a vessel carrying asylum seekers was wrecked off Christmas Island in December.
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It is not fashionable for a member of Gen Y like myself to care about equal pay for women. So the Australian Services Union equal remuneration case currently before Fair Work Australia should perhaps hold no great interest for me. Equal pay was won in 1969 and equal pay for work of equal value in 1972, long before I was born.
I am apparently of the post-feminist era, and most of my friends have been to university, perhaps even more of the women than the men. At 26, I have watched the boys I went to school with complete engineering and IT degrees and the girls finish teaching, social work or arts.
Perhaps this observation should not bother me. I do not doubt that my friends are excellent at their chosen professions. The problem I have with this scenario is the gap in their respective salaries.
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Many Australians will be welcoming yesterday’s High Court decision in the case of The State of South Australia v. Totani & Another HCA 39 (2010). This is the second legal defeat of this unjust and draconian piece of South Australian legislation.
While most Australians will see the decision as a big win for the bike clubs against the money-wasting, selfish and bloody-minded South Australian Labor Government, from the United Motorcycle Council NSW stand-point it‘s just one more step in the right direction. We have to continue to fight until these hastily enacted and unworkable laws are defeated in our state as well.
There’s no doubt though that we are off to a very promising start. Mike Rann backed himself in the South Australian Supreme Court and lost, then with significant egg on his face took his war to the High Court using taxpayer funds only to lose there as well.
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Getting ready for my appearance before the High Court in Canberra this week I did some eccentric research. I watched The Castle for the first time.
And whether your name is Daryl or Derryn it is pretty daunting walking up those steps to the towering glass façade of the High Court building in Canberra. With life imitating art, some of the media gang and camera crews who played extras in The Castle were there again in real life for my High Court battle.
That’s where the similarity ended. The battler fighting to retain his home on the grounds that a man’s home is his castle had a suburban solicitor and a QC played by Bud Tingwell against a couple of high-powered lawyers.
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It is safe to assume that Australia has the only high court in the world to have an important case of constitutional and military law decided over an incident of “teabagging.”
Following the High Court’s decision in Lane v Morrison on the illegitimacy of the Australian Military Court, the practice of “teabagging” will be forever etched in the legal lexicon of this country.
While Big Brother’s turkeyslapping incident introduced us to genital based attempts at humour taking hold of the national agenda, turkeyslapping was only brought up in Parliament while teabagging made it all the way to the High Court - and won.
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Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code 1860, although drafted by Lord Macaulay, speaks with the coyness of Queen Victoria.
It states: “Unnatural Offences – Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life …”
A law directed against homosexual acts dared not use words like “buggery” or “sodomy”.
The euphemism of “carnal intercourse against the law of nature” was necessary and the Courts were required to fill in the missing spaces.
Over the years, the Courts of India confirmed that any form of sexual penetration other than vaginal intercourse between a man and a woman was “against the order of nature”.
On the second of this month, two judges of the High Court of Delhi declared that s.377 was unconstitutional.
The Chief Justice, Ajit Prakesh Shah, and Justice Muralidhar held that the law would now only apply to non-consensual acts and acts where a party to the act was younger than 18 years of age.
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