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The Forum > Article Comments > Unifying the law > Comments

Unifying the law : Comments

By Michael Bosscher, published 6/2/2007

Itís time for Australia to establish a uniform national criminal law code to replace the current state-by-state chaos.

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Maybe it is time for the major parties to cut to the chase and call a summit on the federation - its purpose objectives and value - forget about incremental changes to national codes or national methods of management

Early in his leader of the oppositionship Rudd talked about reframing the federation - he speaks little of it now. LIndsay Tanner puts in his 2 bobs worth on the subject every now and then as well.

In recent years we have had talk of a national approach to health - those discussions withered on the vine; we are talking of a national approach to our major water way; we have something approaching a national power grid. Julie Bishop is talkng about a national curriculum for schools - we have a national Aged Care network, National social security services - now the scales have fallen from the eyes of the PM we might have a serious and coordinated approach to Climate Change - and here we have talk of a national criminal code -

We are widely known to be on of the most over governed countries in the world - there may be something to say for some of these oves by the feds - personally I am sceptical of their intentions - but the best way to ensure a genuine non partisan approach to a New Federalism is to start a national debate on over arching change - not leave it to the whim of the incumbents - who ever is in charge.

State governments are losing power by attrition and in many instances are having their competence questioned with respect to everything else they manage - maybe it is time to examine their over all usefullness -

We were able to develop a constitution a little over a hundred years ago - maybe its time we rethought our entire system of governance - instead of adopting what looks like a piece-meal approach to enhance the powers of the Federal Governement
Posted by sneekeepete, Tuesday, 6 February 2007 9:54:37 AM
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I am sure that a majority of electors in most states would like me be strongly opposed to any further harmonisation of state criminal laws. Proponents of this simply do not understand geographical multiculturalism. Queensland, particularly north Queensland, is different from NSW or Victoria. Tasmania is different from all other states. If you suscribe to the view that environment shapes people's social attitudes, which I think applies to all except a few internationalists, (who have been completely marginalised ever since the Tampa sailed onto the scene), then this difference is to be expected. In a democratic society differences mean different laws. The main trouble so far is that the is already too much harmonisation. We should have one state where posession of a drug can result in castration, mutilation, decapitation, etc., and on the other side of the frontier (which you are entitled to cross) there would be a bounty payable to all drug growers under the agricultural assistance scheme. We could then enjoy the spectacle of offenders racing for the state frontier pursued by the police, with no interstate extradition available.

The ideal set of traffic laws would require that vehicles change side of the road whenever they cross a state frontier. The only problem with implementing this would be that in South Australia they would have to travel down the centre of the road.

What the commonwealth government should be, (and what is was when the constitution was adopted), is a second-class, second-grade sovereignity of limited and strictly enumerated powers. The changes since that time have not been brought about by a vote of the people, but by judicial action. Is it any wonder that any referendum increasing commonwealth power is vigorously voted down?

One reason Joe Bjelke-Petersen was such a great success is that he understood State patriotism. When Whitlam proposed moving the border to halfway in Torres Strait he said that changing the Australian border was a minor matter to be settled by bureaucrats, but Whitlam was proposing moving the border of QUEENSLAND!
Posted by plerdsus, Tuesday, 6 February 2007 1:37:51 PM
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God help us...the legal fraternity would be in uproar!

National Criminal codes, National road rules, Insurance laws, Education, etc. Just imagine the loss of confusion that now reigns supreme with cross jurisdictional issues. E.g. extraditions, border issues and such. They would never hear of it. The loss of legal 'minefeilds' would be one positive aspect alone in unifying just these 4 acts and their various regulations. Federation has failed us with the now topical water issues, so why would it be any different with applying a state and territory based system for this or any other legislation?

Then again, consider the Family Law Act, and Child Support and see how difficult these are to get any sense from. An unmitigated disaster from the outset.
Posted by Albie Manton in Darwin, Tuesday, 6 February 2007 4:57:55 PM
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There are always objections to progress especially opinion as to what's progress, anchored in archaic aand historic law and process. In a democracy, in 2007, why do we maintain systems that allow a resident of Australia to be literally at the mercy of the practioners (if they can afford same) in various competing and uncoordianted structures of law? Then the autocracy of the judicial system that can be almost whimsical in what's important and what's not?

We have no National child Protection guidelines and a variety of 'systems' around the investigation and prosecution of child offences, and something laughingly called 'child protection' or 'kiddie fiddling' in other arenas. They don't fit into the federal system of Family Court at all.

Domestic Violence is advertised as something one doesn't have to put up with at state and federal levels, but don't try using state funded agencies to support any claim in the Family court, where state agencies and the support they provide are judicially demeaned as 'fringe agencies'.

One can't look at state criminal law in isolation because it doesn't exist in a vaccuum. Not if we have the slightest intention of improving laws for the people and the well-being of our citizens. That is our aim. Isn't it?
Posted by Cotter, Tuesday, 6 February 2007 5:04:45 PM
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"New South Wales does not have a criminal law code, but works under State Government legislation".

I cant help but wonder exactly what that means in real live terms?
Posted by Jolanda, Tuesday, 6 February 2007 9:38:18 PM
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Geographical multiculturalism be buggered!

An over haul of federalism might mean what ever we want it to mean - but I find the notion of states rights and worse still state patriotism puke inducing - but I have a very delicate gag reflex.

We have - for a country of 20,750,00 and then some - an elected officil state and federal for every 25,000 punters - add to that the plethora local councillors ( around 675 councils at an average of 9 council ) we have an elected offical for every 300 or so of us - scary isnt it! - there can be no good reason against over hauling a system with a preponderance of over paid toss pots.

Whether this means increased or decreased federal powers is irrelevant so long as it is easier and cheaper for the average citizens to go about his daily life
Posted by sneekeepete, Wednesday, 7 February 2007 9:51:15 AM
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