26 September 2023

PS from the PaSt: 14–20 March 2012

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1. This week 10 years ago, Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon introduced laws into Parliament to establish a new system for handing complaints against Federal Judges and judicial officers.

Ms Roxon said the new laws aimed to provide a clearer, more accountable and more effective system.

“It is essential that the community continues to have strong confidence in our courts and a transparent and robust complaints process is fundamental to this,” Ms Roxon said.

“Australia’s courts are held in the highest regard and our judiciary takes very seriously the responsibility entrusted to them as holders of judicial office — these reforms will strengthen our legal system.”

2. Prime Minister, Julia Gillard announced a new Small Business Commissioner would be appointed to give Australia’s 2.7 million small businesses a direct voice to the Commonwealth Government.

Ms Gillard said the small business sector employed almost 5 million Australians and made up more than one-third of the Australian economy.

She said the new Commissioner would also provide a “one-stop shop” for services and information and ensure the interests of small business remained at the forefront of Government policymaking.

“Small business owners will be able to access information and advice, and referral to external services such as dispute-resolution services,” Ms Gillard said.

3. In NSW, the Premier, Barry O’Farrell announced the national headquarters for the Federal Government’s $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation would be established in Sydney.

Mr O’Farrell said the State Government had worked hard to secure the office and he described the decision as “a vote of confidence in Sydney and the NSW economy”.

Prime Minister, Julia Gillard said Sydney was selected because it had a strong clean energy sector and a network of financial, legal and professional services that would ensure the smooth set up and operation of the Corporation.

4. A report by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research revealed the Domestic Violence Intervention Court Model (DVICM) had enjoyed mixed success in improving the response of the criminal justice system to domestic violence.

Director of the Bureau, Dr Don Weatherburn said the DVICM aimed to improve police evidence gathering and the efficiency of the court response; provide greater support to victims; and improve the management of offenders.

He said an evaluation found positive support for the program from victims of domestic violence and some improvements in the police and court response; however, there was no change in the number of suspected offenders who were charged, the proportion who pleaded guilty or the time taken to finalise cases in the courts.

5. Victoria Police announced the first phase of a Statewide rollout of tasers, saying operational members in Geelong and Ballarat would be equipped with the weapons more formally known as Conducted Energy Devices (CEDs).

Deputy Police Commissioner, Kieran Walshe said the decision followed a 12-month trial in Bendigo and Morwell.

He said CEDs gave police an additional tactical option to help resolve high-risk incidents without the need for lethal force.

“The trial established that the visible presence of the CED alone was enough to defuse some volatile situations involving armed, uncooperative offenders,” Deputy Commissioner Walshe said.

6. And a decade ago, Federal Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon announced police in three States would receive a new high-tech “Bearcat” armoured rescue vehicle paid for by the Commonwealth.

Ms Roxon said the vehicles from the United States had been ordered for delivery to Queensland, NSW and Tasmania and were designed to help police deal with dangerous situations such as hostage incidents or acts of terrorism.

“Each vehicle is manufactured to protect police and is designed to be both bullet and blast resistant,” Ms Roxon said.

“The vehicles can also be used to assist with the safe rescue of hostages or injured personnel.”

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