Recent publications by law reform bodies worldwide

AuthorIngrid Cunningham
PositionB.A., M.A., LL.B., Research Assistant, Faculty of Law, NUI Galway
2006] Recent Publications 239
By Law Reform Bodies Worldwide
A. Australia
Review of Sedition Laws
Issues Paper IP 30, March 2006
Discussion Paper DP 71 May 2006
The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has
been asked to examine the offence of sedition as amended by
Federal Parliament in 2005. The attempt to modernise the old
sedition offences in the Crimes Act 1914 was part of the federal
Government’s Anti-Terrorism Act (No 2) 2005, which targets
activity promoting terrorist violence. The sedition provisions were
controversial, with concerns expressed through the media and
identified by a Senate Inquiry that the laws may encroach
unreasonably upon freedom of speech. In December 2005, the
Attorney General foreshadowed an independent review of the new
sedition laws and provided the Australian Law Reform
Commission with formal Terms of Reference for this purpose in
March 2006.
To help clarify the issues under consideration in this
Inquiry, the ALRC has released two consultation papers: an Issues
Paper, Review of Sedition Laws (IP 30) on 20 March 2006, and a
Discussion Paper, Review of Sedition Laws (DP 71) on 29 My
In releasing the Discussion Paper, the ALRC President
said the proposals aimed to ensure “there is a bright line between
freedom of expression, even when exercised in a confronting or
unpopular manner, and the reach of the criminal law.”
B.A., M.A., LL.B., Research Assistant, Faculty of Law, NUI Galway.
Judicial Studies Institute Journal [6:1
The discussion paper contains 25 proposals for reform, including
the proposal for the removal of the term “sedition” from the
federal statute book, because, given its history, the term “sedition”
is much too closely associated in the public mind with punishment
of those who criticize the established order. The ALRC
recommends the redrafting of offences urging others to use force
or violence to overthrow the Constitution or governmental
authority, to interfere in free elections or to target particular
groups within the community. In so doing, the ALRC wants to
shift the focus away from “mere criticism” and to make clear that
the Crown must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the person
intentionally urged others to use force or violence and intended
that this force or violence would occur.
The Commission also recommends that amendments be
made to offences related to “assisting” an enemy at war with
Australia or engaged in armed hostilities against the Australian
Defence Forces and to clarify that this refers to material
assistance, such as arms, funds, personnel or strategic information,
rather than criticism of government policy.
The Commission proposes that, in applying the law to a
particular case, a jury must take into account the context in which
the conduct occurred, such as whether it was part of an artistic
performance or exhibition, or a genuine academic, artistic or
scientific discussion or an industrial dispute or in a news report or
commentary about a matter of public interest. Other key proposals
for reform include repealing the outdated provision in the Crimes
Act 1914, concerning “unlawful associations,” which has
effectively been superseded by more recent laws on terrorist
organisations and ruling out the need to introduce a UK-style
offence of “glorification of terrorism.”
The closing date for submissions on the Discussion Paper is 3 July
Review of the Privacy Act 1988
On 31 January 2006, The Attorney General asked the
Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) to make an inquiry

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