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    "What Simon Birmingham has been doing is absolutely fantastic. He has managed to un-mesh the terrible omelette that was created by the Gillard government, the Rudd government in terms of funding; he's undoing all that." 

    Senator Chris Back (Lib. WA) arguing that Catholic schools are getting a raw deal under Gonski 11. AM, ABC Radio, June 19, 2017  ... Read more ... 


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    « Week in review | Main | Will Alstergren »
    Monday
    Feb202017

    Highs and lows of another week

    Week@The Knees February 14 to February 20, 2017 ... Compiled by Sohini Mehta ... Legislative fix for McGlade ... Triggs defends handling of race hate case ... Telcos won't go with the flow of information to government ... Law Council tackles boys' club ... Catholic Church paid out over $276 million to child sex abuse victims ... Former Freehills partners lawyer-up ... Lambie rejects Sharia, whoever that is ... Kirby responds to Ross Cameron's gay outburst  

    THE Federal Government has moved swiftly to introduce legislation to amend the Native Title Act after the landmark McGlade court ruling earlier this month, which found that Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs) cannot be registered unless signed by all native title claimants who are "named applicants".

    The amendment seeks to reinstate the previous legal status quo established by the Federal Court's Bygrave decision in 2010, whereby majority decisions by a claimant group guaranteed a land use agreement.   

    The new laws would uphold not only 123 ILUAs currently registered with the National Native Title Tribunal, but also agreements that are not yet registered - including the giant Adani coal project and other mining, agriculture or infrastructure projects which exchange cash and other incentives for traditional owner consent. 

    *   *   *

    Triggs: parts of the media misinformed

    Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs defended the Commission's handling of a controversial racial vilification complaint at a hearing conducted by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights on Friday. 

    Indigenous administrative officer Cindy Prior claimed she had been vilified by three Queensland University of Technology students on Facebook after she asked them to leave an Indigenous-only computer laboratory in May 2013. In November, the Federal Circuit Court ruled that the complaint should not proceed

    Professor Triggs took aim at "misinformation in some parts of the media", revealing that the commission suggested to Ms Prior at the outset that she should not pursue her complaint and that the complainant and QUT repeatedly asked the commission not to notify the students, a request she now wishes she had rejected.  

    She added that the case was "extremely unusual" and the average complaint is resolved in less than four months. 

    In a new submission on 15 February to the inquiry into free speech in Australia, the AHRC recommended that the grounds for termination be expanded to include a power to terminate where the president is satisfied that an inquiry is "not warranted", and that the prompt use of dispute resolution should be encouraged. 

    *   *   *

    Industry bodies representing hundreds of telecommunications and internet companies, including Optus, Telstra, Vodafone, IBM and Google, lodged a joint submission to the parliamentary inquiry into the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016. 

    The proposed regulatory framework would oblige telcos to "do their best" to protect their networks and notify the attorney general and ASIO of potential security risks of unauthorised access to, and interference with, their networks and facilities.

    The various bodies are agitated about the "one-way flow of information" under the proposed regime, whereby the federal government would gain access to network designs and powers to intervene in vendor selections, with no corresponding obligation to bear unforeseen costs or advise companies of vulnerabilities.  

    In view of the Bill's failure "to answer the fundamental question of what specific failings and/or weaknesses government is seeking to address", the joint submission speculated whether the government has identified and failed to notify the industry of cyber threats. 

    *   *   *

    McLeod: interesting workshop revelation

    The Law Council of Australia is offering face-to-face workshops and online courses to staff at legal practices across Australia to address gender bias in law. 

    President Fiona McLeod SC said that when she did the workshop, despite being a professional person with many professional female role models, she found she had "an unknown affiliation that associated women with family and men with work". 

    "Women make up to two-thirds of law graduates, yet fill less than one-quarter of senior roles and only one-in-10 senior counsel and Queen's counsel positions," said Ms McLeod.

    "The gender pay gap - taking into account part-time work - is also up to 140 per cent."

    *   *   *

    The Catholic Church has paid $276.1 million in claims to 4,445 victims of child sexual abuse, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has heard.

    Claims of child sexual abuse were levelled at 1,049 Catholic Church institutions in Australia. The most common type of institution identified was schools, making up 46 per cent of all claims. 

    The highest number of child sexual abuse claims concerned a residential care facility operated by the De La Salle Brothers in Beaudesert in Queensland, with 219 claims. 

    *   *   *

    Eight former Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) Australia partners have instructed Seyfarth Shaw to represent them in the case filed by their former firm on 10 February before the Supreme Court of NSW in Sydney. 

    HSF Australia claims that the departing partners who left the firm last year to launch offices in Melbourne and Sydney for US firm White & Case breached seven clauses of the firm's partnership record and of the global LLP members' agreement.  

    The firm is seeking a court order to curb the new White & Case partners' dealings with former clients. 

    *   *   *

    Kim Jong-nam: North Korea wants his body back

    At least four people have been arrested in connection with the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.  

    Kim Jong-nam was awaiting a flight to Macau from Kuala Lumpur when two women are believed to have poisoned him by either striking him with poisoned needles or spraying liquid poison on his face.

    South Korean officials have said they suspect the assassination was ordered by Kim Jong-un as part of his effort to consolidate power in North Korea. Malaysian police arrested a North Korean man in connection with the murder on Friday night.  

    North Korea has attempted to block an autopsy on Mr. Kim's body and demanded that Malaysia release the corpse.

    The political, and very public, assassination of Mr. Kim is reminiscent of a spy thriller, albeit one with an amateur cast. 

    For one, the women didn't have a getaway car. Airport surveillance shows one woman queuing for a taxi outside the airport. 

    And according to Indonesia's national police chief, an Indonesian woman arrested over the killing may have thought she was part of a reality TV show

    *   *   *

    Independent Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie's and Youth Without Borders founder and Sudanese-born engineer Yassmin Abdel-Magied butted heads on ABC's Q&A last Monday night (Feb. 13). 

    When Lambie called for the deportation of "anyone who supports sharia law in this country", Abdel-Magied said Islam specified the precedence of "the law of the land that you are on" and questioned Lambie's knowledge of sharia law, saying she gets frustrated "when people go around dissing my faith without knowing about it". 

    The next day, Lambie posted a video to her Facebook page about sharia law. She prefaced her "obvious" six-point critique proudly: "Like most Australians, I'm not an expert in sharia law." 

    *   *   *

    Ross Cameron: nasty calumny

    Former High Court judge Michael Kirby has entered the furore created by Ross Cameron's anti-gay spray at a Q Association dinner. Cameron is a Liberal Party member and an ex-MP. 

    Kirby said that he knew Ross Cameron's father, the late Jim Cameron, who he was sure would have taken young Ross aside and given him a stern talking to about love for others and the need to "avoid nasty calumny of minorities". 

    The retired judge added that Cameron's comments at a political meeting might be protected by Lange v ABC

    "In a representative parliamentary democracy as provided by our Constitution there is a need for active debate whatever might be appropriate in the circumstances." 

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