​​

​Media Release 2012

    Manly Court to receive $2.5 million upgrade

    Issued: Friday, 21 December 2012

    [PDF, 122kb]

    Manly Courthouse will undergo a $2.5 million renovation, Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today.

    "The upgrade of the courthouse will improve facilities for all court users, including people with a disability, the legal profession, victims of crime and support services," Mr Smith said.

    Mr Smith said the installation of Audio Visual Link (AVL) technology would enable the court to hear evidence from witnesses who are interstate or overseas and bail applications made from prisons.

    "The increasing use of AVL across NSW is reducing the need to transport prisoners to court which creates a safer environment and saves taxpayers millions of dollars," Mr Smith said.

    A safe room for domestic violence victims will be refurbished and made more secure, while the public waiting area and rooms for the legal profession will be improved and expanded.

    Mr Smith said a new registry would make court services easier to access.

    "The registry will include a public computer kiosk and information boards containing booklets on common legal procedures and support services," Mr Smith said.

    "The registry will also have a split-level counter, with the lower level to be utilised by people with a disability, as well as a separate room for private or lengthy enquiries."

    The courthouse will be closed from 24 December until the renovation is completed in late 2013.

    During the renovations, Manly Local Court matters will be transferred to North Sydney and other Sydney courts.

    Mr Smith said the short-term inconvenience would be offset by long-term benefits.

    "Manly has one of the busiest courthouses in suburban Sydney and the building is in need of a makeover to ensure it can continue to meet the needs of the community," Mr Smith said.

    "This will be the most significant upgrade the courthouse has received in more than 20 years."

    In 2005-06, the Department of Attorney General and Justice began a 10-year court upgrade program of more than 100 facilities across NSW. The Manly Courthouse was listed as one of the buildings that would be renovated over the course of the $250 million program.

     

    Public better informed about crime and courts

    Issued: Thursday, 20 December 2012

    Attorney General Greg Smith SC today welcomed a report by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research showing public confidence in the criminal justice system had increased.

    "The report shows people are now better informed about the true level of crime, and the penalties handed out to criminals," he said.

    "Better information has made the public realise the criminal justice system is working well - and they now have more confidence in it."

    "We have refused to engage in a law and order auction, and BOCSAR says the reframing of the public debate about crime and justice may have contributed to the increase in public confidence."

    "These are great results, but we should keep talking openly about the issues facing the criminal justice system, to continue the trend and further reduce misinformation."

    "It is important people realise that crime has been falling, and that violent crime only makes up a small proportion (7per cent) of all crime. The vast majority of people charged with criminal offences are convicted and punished."

    BOCSAR's report "Public confidence in the New South Wales criminal justice system: 2012 update" was published today.

    It shows the rate of citizens who are "very confident" or "fairly confident" in the NSW criminal justice system has increased by about a third in the past five years.

    More than 31 per cent of respondents agreed that the severity of sentences was "about right" – up from 25.5 per cent in 2007.

    "The public can and should have confidence in our courts, and their ability to deliver justice, and to do so promptly and fairly, while meeting the rights and needs of all involved," Mr Smith said.

    "While court results may sometimes be hard to understand, better knowledge of the full circumstances can usually explain the outcome. In addition, an appeal process is available as a safeguard."

    BOCSAR's report is available at www.bocsar.nsw.gov.au

     

    Greater access to Justice for disadvantaged

    Issued: Thursday, 20 December 2012

    [PDF, 109kb]

    The Government has developed new guidelines and funding principles to improve access to community legal services for socially and economically disadvantaged and vulnerable people in NSW, Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today.

    "In tight financial times we have to make sure the money goes where it is most needed – to give legal advice and representation to people who cannot otherwise afford it and for cases which are in the public interest and have a good chance of success," Mr Smith said.

    "I applaud all those who work at Legal Aid and in the community legal sector, and especially those who provide pro bono assistance. They deserve commendation for their commitment, passion and professionalism, and I believe they will support this initiative to help the most disadvantaged and vulnerable."

    "This initiative will enhance the focus of community legal centre services on the needs of the disadvantaged, meaning more people will be able to get legal help."

    Funding for Community legal centres is sourced from the Public Purpose Fund and State and Commonwealth governments.

    The Public Purpose Fund – which is sourced from the interest earned on solicitors' trust accounts – has been diminishing as a consequence of recent reductions in interest rates.

    "The new guidelines will help ensure that all organisations understand the principles which will be considered when making a grant application."

    In NSW, 36 community legal centres, which are not for profit organisations, received more than $18m in public funding last financial year, including $5.26m from the Public Purpose Fund.

    "I will ask the trustees of the Public Purpose Fund and Legal Aid NSW to endorse the new funding guidelines," he said.

    "A steering committee will also develop a medium to long term strategy to enhance delivery of legal services to vulnerable and disadvantaged people in NSW."

    A recent report by the Law and Justice Foundation into Legal Need in NSW found disadvantaged people experienced more legal problems, and overall only half of all people who had a legal problem sought any advice.

    My Department has also completed a review of the delivery of legal assistance and information services to the NSW community and the Government has accepted the recommendations.

    A review will also be held into the Community Legal Centre Program, and Legal Aid will be asked to introduce a time recording system for its own legal services, as recommended by the NSW Auditor General.

    The new funding guidelines say:

    - Funding should be primarily used for casework (legal advice and representation) for socially and economically disadvantaged and vulnerable groups who may otherwise not have access to justice

    - Funding may be used for information and referral services, community consultation, education and capacity building, professional development, advice on law reform and policy issues and activities ancillary to legal casework.

    - Funding may not be used for lobbying activities, public campaigning and providing legal advice to activists and lobby groups.

    - Funding for legal representation should be subject to a means and merit test

    - Funded services should take into account the public interest, such as concerns of disadvantaged and vulnerable people, and issues affecting an individual's rights.

    Mr Smith said: "The introduction of new guidelines should ensure that the grants are properly targeted and that taxpayer's dollars are earmarked for core legal services and advice."

     

    New President of the NSW Court of Appeal

    Issued: Thursday, 20 December 2012

    [PDF, 110kb]

    Attorney General Greg Smith SC today announced the appointment of Justice Margaret Beazley AO as President of the NSW Court of Appeal.

    "Justice Beazley is an exceptional jurist and a worthy successor to Justice James Allsop who is leaving the Court of Appeal to serve as Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Australia," Mr Smith said.

    Justice Beazley will become the first female President of the NSW Court of Appeal, 16 years after she was appointed the court's first female judge.

    During a distinguished career, Justice Beazley has also served on the benches of the Federal Court of Australia, the Industrial Relations Court of Australia, the District Court of NSW and the ACT Supreme Court.  She has also served as Assistant Commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

    Justice Beazley graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Laws with honours in 1974. She commenced practice as a barrister in 1975 and was appointed Queens Counsel in 1989.

    In the 2006 Queen's Birthday Honours List, Justice Beazley was designated an Officer of the Order of Australia for "service to the judiciary and the law, particularly through contributions to professional and ethical standards, to the advancement of women in the legal profession and the community".  In 2008, she received an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws at the University of Sydney.

    Justice Beazley is Chairperson of the NSW Chapter of the Australian Institute of Administrative Law, President of the Arts Law Centre of Australia and is patron of the Toongabbie Legal Centre.

    Justice Beazley will be sworn in as President of the Court of Appeal on March 1, 2013.

    Premier Barry O'Farrell congratulated Justice Beazley on her appointment: "Justice Beazley has led a distinguished career and this appointment will be well-received by all those who know her or know of her work."

    "While this is first and foremost a merit appointment, it's also fitting that as someone who has been a fierce advocate for women in the legal profession and the community generally, she should be appointed as the first female to become the President of the Court of Criminal Appeal."

    Mr Smith said: "I congratulate Justice Beazley on her elevation to one of the highest positions in the NSW justice system and wish her every success in the next stage of her remarkable career."

     

    Strong support for new approach to child protection

    Issued: Tuesday, 18 December 2012

    [PDF, 122kb]

    The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) has recommended the continued use of Alternative Dispute Resolution in child protection cases, after finding 'extremely high' satisfaction rates among families involved in the process.

    Attorney General Greg Smith SC, and Minister for Family and Community Services Pru Goward today released the AIC's evaluations of three new Alternative Dispute Resolution programs in the care and protection field.

    "The AIC's reports found that Alternative Dispute Resolution is giving families a greater opportunity to directly participate in decisions made about their child's future care," Mr Smith said.

    The AIC evaluated Dispute Resolution Conferences, the External Care and Protection Mediation Pilot and the Family Group Conferencing Pilot programs.

    "All three Alternative Dispute Resolution programs achieved high participating rates and the overwhelming majority of family members involved found the process useful and believed they had been listened to and treated fairly,' Mr Smith said.

    Dispute Resolution Conferences are held throughout NSW, the External Care and Protection Mediation Pilot operates at Bidura Children's Court and the Family Group Conferencing Pilot program was conducted in metropolitan Sydney and northern NSW.

    "Conducted in a relatively informal setting, each program encourages families and Community Services caseworkers to speak openly about care issues and work together on a plan that has the child's best interests at heart," Mr Smith said.

    According to the AIC, around 80 per cent of Dispute Resolution Conferences and External Care and Protection Mediations resulted in the child protection issues in dispute being narrowed or resolved.

    Ms Goward said the Family Group Conferencing Pilot program had also proven a success, with plans developed by the family in 90 per cent of cases.

    "The conferences take place during Community Services' casework with a family, with the aim of diverting a case from Children's Court proceedings and empowering families to come up with a plan that addresses caseworkers' concerns," Ms Goward said.

    "There is a greater likelihood that a plan developed by the family will be successfully implemented, as the family has ownership of it."

    Ms Goward said the NSW Government was considering implementing Family Group Conferencing throughout the state.

    "Last month I released a child protection reform discussion paper, which proposes placing an obligation on caseworkers to refer care matters to Family Group Conferencing prior to commencing care proceedings," Ms Goward said.

    "The discussion paper also raises the possibility of Family Group Conferencing being available for matters that are already going through the Children's Court."

    Dispute Resolution Conferences, the External Care and Protection Mediation Pilot and the Family Group Conferencing Pilot program were developed in response to recommendations by the 2008 Wood Special Commission of Inquiry into the NSW Child Protection System.

    The AIC's reports recommended the continuation of Alternative Dispute Resolution in care and protection matters.

     

    New 'how to' guides for reducing crime

    Issued: Saturday, 15 December 2012

    Attorney General Greg Smith SC today launched new resources that show local councils how to prevent the crimes of greatest concern to their community.

    "After reviewing more than 100 local and international studies, the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) has developed a practical guide that explains what crime prevention strategies work and how they can be implemented on a budget," Mr Smith said.

    The guide, which includes handbooks and fact sheets, covers six major crime categories:

    • residential burglary,

    • retail theft,

    • stealing from motor vehicles,

    • stealing from person,

    • malicious damage and

    • non-domestic assault.

    "The material helps local government to plan and implement crime prevention initiatives based on proven strategies, but adapted to local problems," he said.

    The guides examine strategies which include environmental design, lighting, CCTV, responsible service of alcohol, graffiti removal, security guards and  theft-proof locks, but highlight the need to analyse local conditions and review the strategies.

    "The AIC recognises that there is no 'one size fits all' solution to these crimes and the strategies are tailored according to the nature, location and causes of the offence," Mr Smith said.

    "This will enable councils to only adopt the crime prevention measures that are relevant to the problems in their area."

    Mr Smith said councils could be confident that the strategies would deliver results.

    "When developing its resources, the AIC only considered crime prevention strategies that had been properly evaluated and has only endorsed approaches that have succeeded in creating safer communities," Mr Smith said

    The NSW Government provides up to $1.4 million to local councils each year to help them implement their crime prevention plans. 

    "The new guide will make it easier for councils to develop effective crime prevention strategies that are based on proven methods," Mr Smith said.

    The Crime Prevention Division of the Department of Attorney General and Justice commissioned the Australian Institute of Criminology to develop the resources.

    The Effective Crime Prevention Interventions for Implementation by Local Government resources are available at: www.aic.gov.au

     

    Local construction team to build Newcastle Court

    Issued: Tuesday, 11 December 201

    [PDF, 106kb]

    The Newcastle branch of construction giant John Holland will build the $94 million Newcastle Courthouse, with the project to deliver a major boost for the local economy, Attorney General Greg Smith and Member for Newcastle Tim Owen announced today.

    "The seven storey, 12,000 square metre building will be the largest and most technologically advanced NSW court complex outside of Sydney and will significantly improve the Hunter region's access to justice," Mr Smith said.

    Mr Owen said he was delighted that the courthouse would be built by the Newcastle community for the Newcastle community.

    "John Holland has been working in Newcastle for 20 years and will utilise local labour during construction of the courthouse," Mr Owen said.

    "The building façade will also incorporate the designs of local artists."

    Located on the Burwood Wedge site, the high security building will include 10 courtrooms and two tribunal rooms and will host sittings of the Supreme, District, Local and Drug Courts.

    The courthouse, which will be accessible to people with a disability, will also accommodate:

    • holding cells;

    • jury assembly and deliberation areas;

    • legal interview rooms;

    • facilities for victims of crime and support groups;

    • a Sheriff's Office;

    • a state-of-the-art registry; and

    • judicial  chambers.

    Solar panels, energy efficient air conditioning and the use of natural light will minimise the building's carbon footprint.

    "The extensive use of glass on the building's façade will create an atmosphere of openness, reflecting the manner in which justice is administered in NSW," Mr Smith said.

    Construction of the courthouse will begin next month, following the completion of mine rectification work on the site.

     

    Pups in prison- tenth anniversary

    Issued: Monday, 10 December 2012

    [PDF, 143kb]

    Attorney General and Minister for Justice Greg Smith SC has thanked participants in the Pups in Prison program, which today celebrated its ten year anniversary.

    Pups in Prison is a program under which inmates in the state's correctional centres help raise and train assistance dogs for people with physical disabilities. The dogs eventually help their recipients with everyday tasks such as opening doors, picking up objects, paying at the shops and pressing the button at traffic lights.

    The joint initiative between the Department of Attorney General and Justice, Corrective Services NSW and Assistance Dogs Australia started in November 2002

    Mr Smith said: "It is a win-win initiative: more dogs are trained while some inmates gain valuable employment and life skills."

    "Since the beginning of Pups in Prison, more than 50 dogs have been trained inside our correctional facilities - dogs which have given people with physical disabilities freedom and independence," he said.

    "While the Labrador and Golden Retriever pups look cute and cuddly, there is work involved in caring for them and training them, and inmates gain important skills."

    The aim of the program is to give selected inmates valuable employment and life skills and increase their chances of finding jobs and leading law-abiding lives after their release.

    The inmates learn responsibility, patience and communications skills. By working closely with the volunteer dog handlers they also learn about teamwork and build a relationship with a mentor and positive role model.

    "Our participation in this program is driven by the positive impact on rehabilitation, and by the skills inmates can gain through it. It is an extra bonus that the initiative allows inmates to give back to the community and helps a not-for profit organisation provide more assistance dogs to needy recipients."

    Assistance Dogs Australia CEO ​Richard Lord  said: "The Pups in Prison program began as a way for Assistance Dogs Australia to train more dogs to help people with physical disabilities, while helping offenders serving time in corrective centres along the way," said.

    "But, most importantly this program allows these guys to give back to the community, with these dogs eventually giving freedom and independence to someone with a physical disability" Mr Lord said.

    Since 2002 the program has been expanded to correctional centres in Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania. Similar programs are also run overseas.

    In NSW, the Pups in Prison training program currently runs at the Bathurst and Junee Correctional Centres, while a similar program, named Justice Pups, is operating at Frank Baxter Juvenile Justice Centre.

    A birthing facility was opened at Emu Plains Correctional Centre earlier this year.

     

    Domestic Violence Justice Strategy for NSW

    Issued: Monday, 10 December 2012

    [PDF, 110kb]

    A new domestic violence justice strategy will be implemented across NSW to make victims safer, hold perpetrators accountable and prevent re-offending.

    Attorney General Greg Smith, Police Minister Mike Gallacher and Minister for Family and Community Services Pru Goward today announced the strategy, which will be adopted by frontline justice agencies working with domestic violence victims and offenders.

    "A more coordinated and consistent approach to domestic violence in the criminal justice system is set to improve the police gathering of evidence, the efficiency of the court process, the support received by victims and the management of offenders," Mr Smith said.

    "Domestic violence victims in all parts of the state can expect to receive the same high quality services from the moment they report a crime until the conclusion of the justice process."

    The Domestic Violence Justice Strategy focuses on achieving six outcomes:

    1. Victims' safety is achieved immediately and risk of further violence is reduced.

    2. Victims have confidence in the justice system and are empowered to participate.

    3. Victims have the support they need.

    4. The court process for domestic violence matters is efficient, fair and accessible.

    5. Abusive behaviour is stopped and perpetrators are held to account.

    6. Perpetrators change their behaviour and re-offending is reduced or eliminated.

    "The strategy sets time standards and performance measures which will enable the police, the courts and other justice agencies to monitor their responses to domestic violence cases, identify any problems and improve services," Mr Smith said.

    Ms Goward said the more coordinated response to domestic violence in the criminal justice system would reduce the risk of cases falling through the cracks.

    "Agencies will identify victims and their families at high risk of suffering further domestic violence and will work together to keep them safe," Ms Goward said.


    "There will also be a stronger focus on making sure domestic violence offenders complete meaningful behavioural change programs."

    The strategy will incorporate many aspects of the Domestic Violence Intervention Court Model – a successful pilot program that has been operating in Wagga Wagga and Campbelltown.

    "The Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research found most victims involved in the Domestic Violence Intervention Court Model felt safe and were very satisfied with the police response and the support services they received," Mr Gallacher said.

    "The Domestic Violence Justice Strategy will give victims the confidence to report incidents to police, knowing that their case will be taken seriously, handled with sensitivity and that they will be kept informed throughout the process."

    Copies of the strategy can be found at www.domesticviolence.lawlink.nsw.gov.au

    Tying the knot is as easy as 123 on 12/12/12

    Issued: Sunday, 9 December 2012

    [PDF, 145kb]

    A record number of couples are expected to tie the knot on 12/12/12 - the last such date with the same number for the day, month and year for nearly ninety years.

    At the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, 123 couples have registered to get married next Wednesday, exceeding the numbers registered on any date since 01/01/01, and including the popular 08/08/08.

    "For many couples, a special date like this has an irresistible appeal, with the extra advantage that it is an easy anniversary date to remember" said Attorney General Greg Smith.

    "The countdown to 12/12/12 has resulted in record numbers of marriages at the Registry, which has hired additional venues and extended its hours to accommodate the high demand."

    Because of the large number of couples wishing to get married on the day, the first marriage will take place at 8am and the last marriage will finish at 9pm. 

    "The staff at the Registry have done a terrific job arranging the largest number of marriages ceremonies in one day at any Registry office." he said.

    Registry marriage figures over the last 11 years show that many couples seized the opportunity to be married on a special date. Generally, dates that fell on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday were more popular than others.

    There were 967 marriages across the state last year on Remembrance Day 11/11/11 – 101 of them in a registry office. Even though this year the special date falls on a Wednesday, the Registry expects it to be popular also for non-registry weddings.

    NSW Marriages – Number of Marriages (Registry and elsewhere) on special dates:

    01/01/2001

    02/02/2002

    03/03/2003

    04/04/2004

    05/05/2005

    ​Mon

    ​Sat

    Mon​

    Sun

    ​Thu

    ​61

    ​720

    ​56

    169​

    ​61

    06/06/2006

    07/07/2007

    08/08/2008

    09/09/2009

    10/10/2010

    ​Tue

    ​Sat

    ​Fri

    Wed​

    ​Sun

    ​44

    517​

    ​460

    ​230

    ​882

    11/11/2011

    Fri

    ​967

     
    Registry offices across NSW are increasing in popularity with 4,641 marriages conducted in 2011, more than 150% increase since 2001.  Registry office marriages start from $350.  

    To find out more about getting married at the Registry, call 1300 655 236 or visit www.bdm.nsw.gov.au 

    New Kings Cross regulations go into effect

    Friday 7 December, 2012   [PDF,96kb] 

    Licensed venues in the Kings Cross precinct will have to comply with tough new restrictions from today as part of the NSW Government's efforts to reduce alcohol-related violence and anti-social behaviour, Minister for Hospitality, George Souris, said.

    Mr Souris said the Liquor Amendment (Kings Cross) Regulation 2012 is part of a range of initiatives by the Liberals and Nationals Government to clean up Kings Cross.

    "Strict conditions will apply to 131 pubs, clubs, bars and licensed restaurants in the new, expanded Kings Cross precinct from next month, including tough restrictions on the highest risk late trading venues," Mr Souris said.

    Mr Souris said the following special conditions will apply depending on venue type:

    • All Kings Cross licensees, bar staff and security personnel will have to transition to Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) photo competency cards by 1 March 2013, to ensure they have up-to-date knowledge of RSA requirements
    • Alcohol sales to cease one hour before closing for venues that trade after 2 a.m. on weekends
    • ‘Time-outs’ for 24-hour premises on weekends with no alcohol sold between 4am and 5am
    • Ban on glass after midnight on all nights
    • Drink restrictions after midnight on weekends including no shots, doubles, or ready to drink (RTD) beverages above 5% alcohol, and no more than four alcoholic drinks per person per order
    • Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) marshals after midnight on weekends
    • CCTV systems to be maintained on premises under strict conditions
    • "Round the clock" incident registers to be kept by all venues to record any violent incidents
    • Requirement for crime scene preservation following violent incidents
    • Prevention of entry to outlaw motorcycle gang members
    • Removal of street litter from outside of premises
    • Promotion of late night transport options by venues
    • Promotion of patron and customer responsibility measures
    • Provision of alcohol sales data to authorities if requested.


    "The start date for these special conditions is today except for the CCTV and RSA marshal requirements which will commence on December 17, 2012," Mr Souris said.

    "The Government has designed these regulations to be tough, but fair and that’s why operating conditions will apply, depending on the type of licensed venue.

    "As part of this common-sense approach, conditions relating to RSA marshals and CCTV systems will not apply to small venues with up to 60 patrons and restaurants which aren’t allowed to serve alcohol without a meal. Small venues will not have to comply with drink restrictions, while licensed restaurants without authorisation to serve alcohol without a meal will not have to introduce bans on glass.

    "Licensed premises will be able to apply for limited exemptions if they can show they have alternative safety measures that will be effective in reducing alcohol-related violence, anti-social behaviour or harm in the Kings Cross precinct. These applications will be assessed by the Director General of NSW Trade & Investment on a case-by-case basis.

    "This sensible and balanced approach recognises that some Kings Cross venues such as a typical licensed restaurant pose much less risk than large hotels and nightclubs."

    Mr Souris said the regulations support the Liquor Amendment (Kings Cross Plan of Management) Act 2012 which was passed by the NSW Parliament on 14 November 2012 to:

    • Expand the existing boundary of the Kings Cross precinct
    • Allow special licence conditions to be imposed on premises in the Kings Cross precinct by the Regulation
    • Extend the Kings Cross freeze on new liquor applications until 24 December 2015
    • Exclude small venues (not more than 60 patrons) in the Kings Cross precinct from the freeze
    • Require all licensees, bar staff and security personnel in the Kings Cross precinct to hold a responsible service of alcohol photo competency card by 1 March 2013.

    Architects for $15 million Wollongong courthouse upgrade  

    [PDF, 210kb]

    Attorney General Greg Smith SC today announced the appointment of architects to design the $15 million renovation of Wollongong Courthouse.

    "Jackson Teece Chesterman will draw the plans for the project, which will improve court security and provide better facilities for juries, people with a disability, the legal profession and staff," Mr Smith said.

    A new registry will provide simpler, faster and easier access to court services. Court users will be able to browse legal resources online at the registry's computer kiosk, while information boards will contain details of support services and common legal procedures.

    "The new registry will have a split-level counter, with the lower level to be utilised by people with a disability, as well as a separate room for private or lengthy enquiries," Mr Smith said.

    The original entrance to the building will be re-opened and will include a lift and handrails. The layout of the courthouse will also be modified to reduce the risk of prisoners coming into contact with victims of crime and members of the public.

    Other features of the upgrade will include:

    • a new callover court;

    • additional interview rooms for the legal profession (existing rooms will be renovated);

    • improved jury assembly and deliberation rooms; and

    • improved fire safety facilities.

    Jackson Teece Chesterman, an Australian company with more than 40 years of experience in architecture, is expected to deliver its design by the end of the year. Construction is set to begin in the second half of 2013.

    Mr Smith said the project was the latest stage in the ongoing improvement of Wollongong Courthouse.

    "More than 9000 local, district and Supreme Court matters are lodged in Wollongong each year and the NSW Government recognises the pivotal role the city's courthouse plays in the NSW justice system," Mr Smith said.

    In recent years, the courthouse has received an upgrade of Audio Visual Link (AVL) and Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) facilities.  The court's historic clock tower has also been restored.

    New Bail Laws to put community safety first

    Issued: Wednesday, 28 November 2012
    [PDF, 210kb]


    A new risk management approach for deciding who does and does not get bail will put the safety of the community first, Premier Barry O'Farrell announced today.

    The NSW Government will introduce a new, simpler Bail Act that aims to achieve greater consistency by removing complexities such as the presumptions scheme, which have led to so many bail decisions that confound the community.

    Mr O'Farrell, Attorney General Greg Smith SC and Police Minister Michael Gallacher today announced the NSW Government's response to the Law Reform Commission's review of the Bail Act. 

    "We have all been left scratching our heads from time to time about the inconsistency in which the current bail law is applied," Mr O'Farrell said.

    "The new, simpler bail law will be applied consistently by police bail sergeants, magistrates and judges – this means police and legal resources can be focused on catching and prosecuting criminals.

     "Accused criminals who pose a serious risk to community safety or are likely to commit further crimes will not get bail under this model.

     "Under the current law, decisions about bail are made based on the offence a person has been charged with – not the risk they pose to the community. Our reforms will ensure the risk to the community is the first thing taken into account."

     Under the government's reforms, when considering bail the police and courts will need to decide if an accused person poses an unacceptable risk of:

    • endangering the safety of the community

    • committing a serious offence

    • interfering with witnesses

    • failing to attend court when required

    Mr Smith said the government would abolish the system of presumptions for or against bail and replace it with a simpler, risk management approach.

    "Anomalies under the existing law mean it can be easier to get bail if a person is charged with possessing an unregistered firearm in a public place than with having a paint ball gun in a public place," Mr Smith said.

    "Some sexual offences, including committing an act of indecency against a child under 10, currently carry a presumption in favour of bail, while repeat property offences may carry a presumption against bail.

    "Since first being enacted 34 years ago, the Bail Act has been amended on 85 separate occasions, making more than 200 changes to the Act. The previous Labor Government alone amended the Act 57 times in 16 years.

    "The Law Reform Commission's report said, 'the complexity of the current Act and its language means that it is unintelligible not only to ordinary citizens, but also to legal practitioners'. It's little wonder the community feels let down and why a new approach is long overdue.

    "The current system of presumptions is inconsistent, resulting in bail decisions which sometimes don't seem to make sense.

    "The government has rejected some of the recommendations of the Law Reform Commission such as its suggestions of a universal presumption in favour of bail, or allowing additional applications for bail for adults.

    "However young people, who are more vulnerable, will be allowed a second bail application in some circumstances under the new model."

    Mr Gallacher said bail was designed to ensure alleged criminals did not interfere with witnesses, flee the country or commit further crimes.

    "Police and courts can also impose tough conditions on those granted bail to ensure the alleged offenders behave themselves while waiting for their trial," Mr Gallacher said.

    "Police stringently enforce bail conditions and can arrest anyone who breaches them. 

    "Under these rules everyone's eligibility for bail will be assessed on a case-by-case basis according to the same rules," he said.

    The chairman of the Law Reform Commission, Justice James Wood AO QC said: "The proposed bail framework builds on the solid foundation of the Commission's report. It will simplify the law and ensure bail outcomes reflect the circumstances of the accused and the alleged offence."


    Commander Police Prosecutions, Chief Superintendent Tony Trichter, said: "We welcome what is a modernisation of state bail laws. We have been asking for changes to the bail legislation for about five years along the lines we have seen today.

    "Today's announcement ensures the bail laws have moved into the 21st century.

    "Previous legislation has served us well but it is now appropriate for matters to be assessed on a risk basis.''

    The government plans to introduce the new Bail Act into Parliament next year. It is due to commence operation in 2014, allowing time to adequately train police bail sergeants, magistrates and judges, and to give legal practitioners enough time to become familiar with the new reforms.

    The Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research will collect data on the operation of the Act and the legislation will be reviewed after three years.

    NSW Violent venues at lowest level ever

    Wednesday 28 November, 2012    [PDF,77kb]

    The latest list of the State’s most violent venues contained the lowest number of pubs and clubs since the scheme began four years ago, Minister for Hospitality, George Souris, announced today.

    "The latest violent venues list, based on data for the past financial year, has confirmed a continuing and pleasing downward trend in the number of venues facing operating restrictions due to excessive levels of alcohol-related violence," Mr Souris said.

    "For the 18 venues named on the latest list the message is clear – you need to lift your game and take urgent corrective action to reduce violence on your premises.

    "Four venues on the latest list recorded 19 or more assaults in 2011/12 and will have to abide by Level 1 operating restrictions for the next six months.

    "Fourteen other venues recorded between 12 and 18 violent incidents in the year to be classified as Level 2 premises.

    Mr Souris said as well as a record low number of Level 1 and 2 premises, another 16 licensed venues have now been removed from the list altogether after their assault rates fell below the threshold of 12 incidents in a year, while two other NSW venues were included on the list for the first time.

    "It is pleasing that 16 venues which successfully removed themselves from the list by achieving the most impressive reductions in alcohol-related violence.

    "The Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) will be engaging the 18 venues on the list to encourage licensees to lift their game. OLGR will also conduct increased compliance activities across these venues to enforce responsible service of alcohol and monitor compliance with licence conditions.

    "Overall, the results indicate that most licensees are getting the message that they need to operate their premises responsibly and safely or face naming and shaming and tougher operating conditions.

    Mr Souris said while no Kings Cross venues are on the violent venues list, six Kings Cross venues were just below the Level 2 threshold after recording either 10 or 11 violent incidents, with a further 10 Kings Cross venues recording between four and seven incidents. This is a total of 16 venues in a concentrated area frequented by a high number of patrons.

    "The Government has taken decisive action to clean up Kings Cross and make it safer for the public, having passed legislation to enshrine a range of operating conditions on high risk venues," Mr Souris said. 

    He warned that all the venues on the threshold of Level 2 should consider themselves on the radar, immediately review their alcohol and security management plans and take steps to reduce the risk of alcohol-related violence.

    "The Government remains committed to introducing measures to reduce alcohol-related violence and anti-social behaviour in NSW communities and the Three Strikes disciplinary scheme has provided motivation for all licensed venues to lift their game or risk the ultimate sanction – loss of licence."

    Mr Souris said the NSW Government is currently assessing the violent venues scheme following the lowest number of licensed premises ever listed on the register.

    "The downward trend reflects the efforts of the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) in working with the liquor industry and NSW Police to ensure the number of violent venues remains low," Mr Souris said.

    The review will use data from research into liquor licence density, and determine if conditions and restrictions are effective across a range of venue sizes. OLGR began its analysis after the start of Round 7 of the violent venues list on 1 June 2012 with its review due to finish in time for the start of Round 9 on 1 June 2013.

    Restrictions applying to Level 1 venues (19 or more violent incidents in a year)

    • A 2am lockout;
    • Cease alcohol service 30 minutes prior to closing;

    • An appropriate extra security measure such as additional guards, CCTV, digital video and audio recording devices, or electronic ID scanning;

    •  Drinks must not be served in glass or breakable containers after midnight;

    • No shots, no doubles, no RTDs (ready to drink) over 5% after midnight;

    • A limit of four alcoholic drinks per customer per order after midnight;

    • Alcohol time-outs or the provision of free water and food for 10 minutes every hour after midnight; &

    • Required to maintain a detailed incident register whenever trading.

    Restrictions applying to Level 2 venues (12 to 18 violent incidents in a year)

    • Cease alcohol service 30 minutes before closing;

    • No glass or breakable containers after midnight;

    • Alcohol time-outs or the provision of free water and food for 10 minutes every hour after midnight; & Required to maintain a detailed incident register whenever trading.

     

    JP's longstanding service to the community

    Issued: Thursday, 22 November 2012

    [PDF, 137kb]

    Attorney General Greg Smith SC will today present a commemorative certificate to the State's longest serving Justice of the Peace.

    Mr John Kay of Darling Point has served as a JP consecutively since 1942 and has witnessed hundreds of signatures and certified countless copies of documents.

    "Seventy years of service is a remarkable achievement and Mr Kay's contribution to the community should not be underestimated," Mr Smith said.

    Mr Kay, 93, was a chartered accountant in private practice, and is still occasionally serving as a JP in his retirement.

    "JPs provide an important free and voluntary service to the community, which most people need at some stage in their lives."

    JPs witness signatures for affidavits or statutory declarations, and may also certify copies of documents needed for a variety of purposes such as job or loan applications.

    There are more than 87,000 JPs in NSW, and Mr Kay is one of 454 JPs who have been serving continuously for over 50 years and who will receive a commemorative certificate in coming weeks.

    "I thank all of them for their many years of service signing and witnessing thousands of signatures over so many decades."

    "Thirty-two JPs have between 60 and 70 years of service and 422 individuals have served as JPs for between 50 and 60 years."

    "I applaud their significant contribution to the community."

    "JPs are trusted to be honest, and to carry out their duties with due care. They have a great responsibility because a falsely witnessed document can potentially harm someone's interests."

    Earlier this year the Government introduced a new law requiring authorised witnesses such as JPs to take additional steps to confirm the identity of a person when they witness a statutory declaration or affidavit.

    "This helps courts and the wider community be confident that affidavits and statutory declarations have been made by the person whose signature appears on them."

     

    NSW Justice in key appointments

    Issued: Tuesday, 20 November 2012

    [PDF, 106kb]

    Attorney General Greg Smith SC today congratulated two senior judges on their new appointments to federal courts.

    The current Chief Justice of the Federal Court Patrick Keane has been appointed as a new Justice of the High Court, while James Allsop, the current President of the NSW Court of Appeal will replace Justice Keane to head the Federal Court.

    "Justice Allsop is a leading jurist with a great intellect, and his appointment to the position of the Chief Justice of the Federal Court is well deserved," Mr Smith said.

    "He has been a tribute to the state and I welcome his elevation to become the fourth Chief Justice of the Federal Court."

    With this appointment Justice Allsop returns to the Federal Court where he was a judge from 2001 to 2008, before he was appointed to the NSW Court of Appeal.

    "His appointment to the NSW Court of Appeal in 2008 had been heralded by many and he was a great success in this position. We regret losing his great legal ability and leadership from the NSW court."

    "I also congratulate Chief Justice Keane – a former judge of the Queensland Court of Appeal - on his elevation to the High Court. He is a lawyer of distinction."

    "Chief Justice Keane replaces Justice Dyson Heydon on the bench of the High Court. Justice Heydon has made a brilliant contribution to the court and I wish him well in his retirement."

    Both new appointments are expected to take effect in March and the Government will name the new President of the Court of Appeal in due course.

     

    Asia Pacific Coroners to discuss big issues in Sydney

    Issued: Tuesday, 20 November 2012

    Can puppies help prevent deaths in custody? Are eyewitnesses reliable? Will modern science make autopsies a thing of the past? These are just some of the diverse issues that will be explored at the Asia Pacific Coroners' Society Conference in Sydney over the next three days.

    The conference will bring together some of the brightest minds in law and justice to share their expertise and discuss emerging challenges in the coronial jurisdiction.

    The speakers will include the former High Court judge, Mary Gaudron AC QC, New Zealand Chief Coroner, Judge Neil MacLean and NSW State Coroner Mary Jerram. 

    Magistrate Jerram, who is the president of the Asia Pacific Coroners' Society, will lead a panel of experts in a discussion about asylum seeker deaths.

    Magistrate Jerram said the conference was vital to the ongoing education of coroners, pathologists, grief counsellors and others involved in coronial practice.

    "Whether we like it or not, the work of the coroner is more open to comment and scrutiny than ever before,' Magistrate Jerram said.

    "The conference will help participants improve their knowledge and skills so that we can continue to conduct thorough investigations into deaths and treat the dead and the bereaved with dignity."

    Members of the Asia Pacific Coroners' Society are located in Australia, New Zealand, and various nations in the Asia Pacific region.  The society has being holding annual conferences since 2002. NSW is the only state or territory to have hosted the conference twice.

    The Asia Pacific Coroners' Society Conference 2012 is being held at the Amora Jamison Hotel, 11 Jamison St, Sydney from 20-23 November.  To view the conference program, go to: www.asiapacificcoroners.org

     

    Sydney Barrister appointed as a Magistrate

    Issued: Wednesday, 14 November 2012

    [PDF, 105kb]

    Attorney General Greg Smith SC today announced the appointment of barrister Derek Lee as a magistrate of the Local Court of NSW.

    "Mr Lee is an accomplished legal practitioner, who has appeared for the prosecution and the defence in proceedings before most courts in NSW," Mr Smith said.

    Since being called to the Bar in 2007, Mr Lee has appeared as counsel in jury trials, sentences, conviction appeals and severity appeals.  He has also provided legal advice to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the WorkC​over Authority of NSW.

    Mr Lee began his career at the NSW Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP), where he served as a solicitor for eight years. 

    "During his time at the ODPP, Mr Lee had carriage of a diverse criminal practice of matters involving murder, sexual assault and large scale drug offences,' Mr Smith said.

    "He also worked within the ODPP's Special Crime Unit, where he handled referrals from the Police Integrity Commission and the Independent Commission Against Corruption and was involved in the prosecution of police officers and public officials."

    In 2005, Mr Lee was awarded the Director of Public Prosecutions' Service Excellence Award.

    Mr Lee joined the Legal Aid Commission of NSW in 2006, where he managed a criminal law practice of more than 40 matters.

    Mr Lee will be sworn in as a magistrate on 26 November 2012.

     

    Filming of Curti Inquest a victory for open justice

    Issued: Wednesday, 14 November 2012

    [PDF, 264kb]

    Attorney General Greg Smith SC today welcomed the State Coroner's decision to allow a television news camera to film the conclusion of the inquest into the death of Brazilian man Roberto Laudisio Curti.

    Magistrate Mary Jerram will today deliver her findings into the death of Mr Curti at the State Coroner's Court in Glebe.

    "While cameras aren't typically allowed in court, the State Coroner has made an exception for the inquest findings due to the significant public interest in the case both locally and abroad," Mr Smith said.

    Earlier in the inquest, Magistrate Jerram also permitted the filming of Counsel Assisting the Coroner, Jeremy Gormly SC's opening address and a statement given by Mr Curti's family. 

    "The NSW Coroner's Court is unlike any jurisdiction in Brazil and I am sure the transparency of the inquest has made it easier for the many millions of people in Mr Curti's home country to follow the proceedings via the media," Mr Smith said.

    The level of media interest in the inquest has been unprecedented for the NSW Coroner's Court, with more than 20 Australian and international journalists attending the hearing.  

    "While the public gallery at the inquest has filled up quickly on most days, any reporter unable to secure a seat has been able to watch a live stream of the proceedings in the waiting area of the Coroner's Court," Mr Smith said.

    In recent years, television news crews and documentary makers have been permitted to film a range of proceedings in NSW including District Court trials, Supreme Court sentences and Circle Sentencing hearings.

    Mr Smith said allowing television cameras into courts in appropriate cases was helping to build confidence in the justice system.

    "The Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research has found people who are more informed about crime and criminal justice are more likely to have confidence in sentencing," Mr Smith said.

    New Kings Cross Laws pass upper house

    Wednesday 14 November,2012    [PDF, 38kb]

    Minister for Hospitality, George Souris, has welcomed the passing of legislation today aimed at curbing alcohol-fuelled violence and anti-social behaviour in Kings Cross.

    The Liquor Amendment (Kings Cross Plan of Management) Bill 2012 will enable the implementation of further actions, including liquor licence restrictions, announced by the NSW Government on 15 August and 18 September, 2012, has passed the Legislative Council and will be implemented in time for the summer holidays next month.

    “The Bill implements Stage One of the NSW Government’s response to address alcohol- related violence and anti-social behaviour in Kings Cross.

    “That response includes conditions which will be imposed by way of regulation on licensed premises in the newly defined Kings Cross precinct,” Mr Souris said.

    Mr Souris said the principal legislation:

    • Expands the geographic boundaries for the Kings Cross precinct to cover an area
    • beyond that currently covered by the Kings Cross freeze on new liquor licences;
    • Extends the liquor licence freeze for the expanded Kings Cross area until December 2015;
    • Excludes small venues, with 60 or less patrons from the freeze;
    • Requires all Kings Cross licensees, bar staff and security personnel to transition to a Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) competency card by 1 March 2013, thereby ensuring they have up to date knowledge of RSA requirements;
    • Allows conditions to be imposed by regulation on licensed venues within the new expanded Kings Cross precinct by the Director General of the NSW Trade & Investment.

    The conditions that will be imposed by regulation will reinforce existing requirements applying to Kings Cross venues relating to:

    • Prevention of entry to outlaw motorcycle gang members
    • Promotion of late night transport;
    • Clearance of street litter; and
    • Ensuring patrons are aware of “fail to leave” offences in the liquor laws.

    New conditions are also proposed to be included in the regulation which will require: 

    • Preservation of a crime scene
    • Maintenance of incident registers;
    • Cessation of liquor supply 60 minutes prior to closing (for venues trading beyond 2am)
    • Restrictions on the sale of certain drinks (e.g. shots) after midnight on weekends to mitigate the rapid consumption of alcohol;

    • Ban on glass containers after midnight;

    • RSA Marshals in venues after midnight on weekends; and

    • Operation of CCTV systems for higher risk premises.

    “The Government is taking decisive action to clean up Kings Cross and make it safe for the public. The passing of this legislation proves we are serious,” Mr Souris said.

    He said that some of the proposed conditions vary from those announced in August and was an appropriate outcome given the significant expansion of the area and the extra licensed premises that will be subject to these strict conditions.

    “Some of these premises are lower risk venues which do not present the same level of risk posed by larger, late trading hotels and nightclubs. A number of other factors have also been
    taken into account, including advice from the Director-General of NSW Trade & Investment following receipt of submissions from licensees..

    “The Director-General will also have the power to request data from licensees about the amount of alcohol sold or supplied for consumption on the premises for specified hours to help inform future policy making.

    “The Director-General may also grant exemptions, but only in limited circumstances; for example, the prohibition on glass containers after midnight and drink restrictions. An exemption to the CCTV requirements can only be sought by restaurants.

    “However, there are strict controls governing exemptions, including a requirement for other measures to be in place and that any exemption is unlikely to result in an increase in alcohol-related violence or anti-social behaviour in the Kings Cross precinct.

    “Conditions relating to Responsible Service of Alcohol Marshals and CCTV systems will start later in December so that licensees have sufficient time to meet requirements.


    “This is a whole-of-Government approach that shows our determination to send a strong message to would-be trouble-makers that their violent and anti-social behaviour will not be
    tolerated and to venue operators that they must do more to ensure the safety of patrons.

    “The new regulations will be closely monitored to ensure they are effective and if necessary will be further refined,” Mr Souris said.

    Once gazetted, a copy of the Regulations and explanatory information will be available on the website of the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (www.olgr.nsw.gov.au).

     

    Telephone 'phishing scam' - people claiming to represent the Department

    Issued: Wednesday, 31 October 2012

    The Department has recently become aware of a telephone 'phishing scam'. Some people have received phone calls from people claiming to represent the Department of Attorney General and Justice, who have asked for personal financial details such as bank account numbers. Our Department would not be seeking this information by phone. Please call the Department to check any request for information before providing any details over the phone. Our switchboard number is 02 8688 7777.

    $48 Million for NSW gambling counselling services

    Tuesday 30 October, 2012      [PDF,kb] 

    The NSW Government has called tenders valued at more than $48 million for high quality counselling and support services for problem gamblers and their families across the State, Minister for Hospitality and Racing, George Souris, said.

    Mr Souris called for expressions of interest from suitably qualified counselling providers while releasing a new report,

    Prevalence of Gambling and Problem Gambling in New South Wales, which identified a problem gambling rate of 0.8 per cent of the NSW adult population.

    "While this report shows only a small proportion of NSW residents are problem gamblers, the Government is committed to improving efforts to address what is an important social issue," Mr Souris said.

    "The Liberals and nationals Government is calling for tenders valued at over $48 million for organisations to provide high quality and free counselling and support services for NSW problem gamblers over the next four years.

    "We want to support best practice services and programs with proven ability to operate efficiently and effectively at the frontline of our communities.

    "The Government will be ensuring that the needs of people in all areas in NSW can be met – from metropolitan areas to regional and remote communities.

    "Evaluating service delivery and ensuring that problem gambling services are accessible and relevant is vital to the NSW Government’s commitment to ensuring high standards.

    "We also recognise that problem gambling service delivery should be informed by the latest available research, with the Responsible Gambling Fund Trustees overseeing a high quality research agenda."

    Mr Souris said NSW currently has 46 problem gambling counselling and support services operating at more than 200 locations across the State which are funded through the Responsible Gambling Fund, with funding agreements due to expire on 30 June 2013.

    "A total of $48.112 million will now be allocated across the State from the NSW Responsible Gambling Fund to support new contracts for problem gambling counselling and support services from July 2013 through to 30 June 2017," Mr Souris said.

    "Services being funded include mainstream problem gambling counselling services, multicultural counselling services, problem gambling legal services and training services for problem gambling counsellors.

    "This will be an opportunity for NSW to strengthen its efforts to address problem gambling through improved service delivery following a needs analysis of the sector.

    "The Government has consulted widely with the counselling services sector, examined data about gambling prevalence and access to counselling across the State, and will be providing services based on sound evidence that can help turn around the lives of problem gamblers and their families.

    "Identified areas for improvement include the need for more after hours counselling support, the need for financial counselling alongside therapeutic counselling, ensuring clients with complex mental health issues are referred to appropriately skilled clinicians, more community education and service promotion and the need for better targeted key performance indicators."


    Mr Souris said some of the key findings from the

    Prevalence of Gambling and Problem Gambling in New South Wales report, which surveyed 10,000 NSW residents from September to November 2011, included:

    • 65 per cent of the NSW population had participated in at least one gambling activity in the previous 12 months – down from 69 per cent in 2006.
    • The most popular gambling activity was lotteries (41 per cent) followed by instant scratch tickets (28 per cent), gaming machines (27 per cent), horse-greyhound races (24 per cent), Keno (14 per cent), sports betting (8 per cent), table games in a casino (7 per cent) and casino or pokies-style games on the Internet (2 per cent).
    • In NSW, problem gamblers are significantly more likely to be male, younger (18-24 years and 35-54 years), be single, be divorced/separated/widowed, unemployed, have low educational attainment and be a regular gambler on gaming machines, on horse or greyhound races and on sports or non-sports events.
    • The survey classified 0.8 per cent of adults as problem gamblers, 2.9 per cent as moderate risk gamblers and 8.4 per cent as low risk gamblers. Using a similar methodology to the previous 2006 survey, the 2011 problem gambling prevalence rate would be 0.4 per cent, moderate risk gambling would be 1.5 per cent and low risk gambling would be 2.5 per cent.

    The Prevalence of Gambling and Problem Gambling in New South Wales report is available at www.olgr.nsw.gov.au/gaming_research_year.asp

     

    Simple, quick and effective justice for NSW

    Issued: Friday, 26 October 2012

    [PDF, 191kb]

    The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC today announced a plan to simplify the state's "complex and bewildering" tribunal system and make it more accessible to the community.

    Mr Smith said 23 of the state's tribunals will be integrated into a new overarching tribunal that will provide a simple, quick and effective process for resolving disputes, supervising occupations and reviewing executive action.

    "The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) will be a one-stop shop for almost all state tribunals, ranging from relatively small bodies such as the Chinese Medicine Tribunal through to the much larger Consumer, Trader & Tenancy Tribunal," Mr Smith said.

    The Industrial Relations Commission is not one of the bodies to be consolidated at this time.

    "Enabling tribunals to exist as a network, rather than in isolation will improve the quality, consistency and transparency of services."

    Mr Smith said the new integrated body would be divided into five specialist divisions – Consumer, Administrative and Equal Opportunity, Occupational and Regulatory, Guardianship, Victims - and staff will continue to use their specialised expertise.

    "One of the strengths of the state's tribunals is that their panels contain experts from the community and relevant professions and these specialist panels will form the backbone of NCAT," Mr Smith said. "This will allow us to take advantage of their expertise."

    "The NSW model will be structured to preserve existing specialties rather than taking a 'one size fits all' approach," Mr Smith said.

    "In that way, the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal will be different from the super tribunals operating in Victoria, Western Australia, Queensland and the ACT and we are hoping to learn from their experiences."

    NCAT will have an internal appeals panel to enable quick and accessible reviews of most tribunal decisions. 

    "Currently there are limited avenues of appeal against the decisions of some tribunals, but all divisions of NCAT will be accountable for their determinations," Mr Smith said.

    NCAT will include the following tribunals and bodies exercising tribunal-like functions:

    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Tribunal

    • Aboriginal Land Councils Pecuniary Interest and Disciplinary Tribunal

    • Administrative Decisions Tribunal

    • Charity Referees               

    • Chinese Medicine Tribunal

    • Chiropractors Tribunal

    • Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal

    • Dental Tribunal

    • Guardianship Tribunal

    • Local Government Pecuniary Interest and Disciplinary Tribunal

    • Local Land Boards

    • Medical Radiation Practice Tribunal

    • Medical Tribunal

    • Nursing and Midwifery Tribunal

    • Occupational Therapy Tribunal

    • Optometry Tribunal

    • Osteopathy Tribunal

    • Pharmacy Tribunal

    • Physiotherapy Tribunal

    • Podiatry Tribunal

    • Psychology Tribunal

    • Vocational Training Appeal Panel

    • Victims Compensation Tribunal

    A small number of bodies will not be consolidated. A Supreme Court judge will be appointed President of NCAT to ensure its independence and Deputy Presidents with relevant experience will head the five divisions. 


    The Government will establish a steering committee to ensure NCAT starts operating in January 2014. The committee will take advice from tribunal members and administrators, representatives of tribunal users and professional associations.  

    The President of the Administrative Decisions Tribunal, Judge Kevin O'Connor AM, welcomed the integration of tribunals, saying it would strengthen their professionalism and versatility.

    "NCAT will have greater flexibility to move resources to areas of greatest need. The sharing of facilities will mean that people in both metropolitan and regional areas will have access to tribunal services through one point of access."


    The Legislative Council Standing Committee on Law and Justice recommended the NSW Government establish a new tribunal to consolidate existing tribunals "where it is appropriate and promotes access to justice".

    The committee found many stakeholders viewed the current system as "complex and bewildering". The Government today tabled its response to the inquiry.

    New DVD helps witnesses get ready for court

    Issued: Thursday, 18 October 2012
    [PDF, 106kb]

    The Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today launched a DVD that will demystify the court process for victims of crime and help them prepare to give evidence.

    "Victims of crime are often the most crucial witnesses in a trial and the Justice Journey DVD will help ensure they understand their role in court and are not overwhelmed by the experience," Mr Smith said.

    The DVD provides a step-by-step guide to the justice process, from the time the crime is reported to police until the matter is finalised in court.  


    Mr Smith said the DVD addresses fears and anxieties commonly felt by victims of crime and other witnesses during criminal proceedings.

    It also gives practical tips about coming face to face with the alleged offender in court, warns them to be prepared for court delays and how to prepare for the possibility of a not-guilty verdict.


    "Victims can be assured that they are not alone and the DVD explains how they can access support services and avoid suffering additional trauma in court," Mr Smith said.

    "One of the Justice Journey case studies involves a victim of sexual assault, who gives evidence via closed circuit cameras to avoid being in the same room as her attacker."

    The DVD is divided into sections so that it can be stopped and discussed in counselling and court preparation sessions. It includes sections on courtroom processes and protocol, the role of key court participants and the role and rights of witnesses.

    The DVD is supported by a booklet and other resources that will be available to all victim support organisations.

    "Justice Journey will be a valuable resource for victims of all ages and backgrounds, as well as their families and supporters," Mr Smith said.


    "It is engaging, educational and all the information is presented in a way that is sensitive and respectful towards victims.

    "I hope this DVD encourages more victims to give evidence and help bring those responsible for the crime to justice."


    The Department of Attorney General and Justice funded and coordinated the Justice Journey DVD in consultation with victim support groups, the NSW Police Force, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions NSW, Legal Aid NSW, the Judicial Commission of NSW, the Law Society of NSW, the NSW Bar Association, NSW Health and a range of other agencies. 


    Major step forward for Wagga Court redevelopment

    Issued: Friday, 12 October 2012
    [PDF, 500kb]


    NSW Attorney General Greg Smith SC and Member for Wagga Wagga Daryl Maguire today announced the appointment of architects to design the $17 million redevelopment of Wagga Wagga Courthouse.

    Mr Smith said Tanner Architects, an Australian practice with 35 years of experience, would begin working on the project immediately.

    "A team of architects is reviewing a masterplan and will start detailed design work within weeks on what will be the largest expansion of the courthouse in its 110 year history," Mr Smith said.

    The architectural plans and the development application process will be completed by mid next year, with construction work to begin in the second half of 2013.

    "Building onto the site of the old Police Station adjacent to the courthouse, the redevelopment will deliver better facilities for victims of crime, the legal profession, the judiciary and members of the public," Mr Smith said.

    "The expanded courthouse will be more technologically advanced and will be protected by airport-style perimeter security."

    The redevelopment will include:

    • three new courtrooms, including two capable of hosting jury trials;

    • a new registry;

    • additional interview rooms for the legal profession;

    • additional Audio Visual Link facilities;

    • a new safe room for victims of domestic violence; and

    • improved access for people with a disability.

    Mr Maguire said the redevelopment would enable the courthouse to keep pace with the city's growth.

    "This is a sign not just of Wagga Wagga's status as the state's largest inland city with a growing population, but a sign of the O'Farrell government's commitment to development in the regions."

    "The courthouse is the result of a dedicated campaign by hard working local MPs," Mr Maguire said.

    "The last substantial upgrade was in the 1990s, and the redevelopment will make the courthouse more comfortable for all users and will help to improve the efficiency of the justice system."

    The project will preserve the heritage value of the courthouse and the new facilities will be designed to minimise the building's carbon footprint.
    The project is due for completion in 2014.

    Decision on Chiew Seng Liew

    Issued: Friday, 12 October 2012
    [PDF, 81kb]


    NSW Attorney General Greg Smith SC has said he decided not to appeal against yesterday's Supreme Court ruling which upheld an earlier decision to grant parole to one of the men convicted over the killing of Dr Victor Chang in July 1991.

    "I have carefully considered the judgment and decided not to appeal against it," Mr Smith said.

    "I admire the strength of character and dignity of the Chang family during this very difficult time."

    Mr Smith said the Supreme Court had accepted his submission that the lack of supervision and enforcement of parole conditions in Malaysia was a relevant factor the State Parole Authority had to consider in its decision.

    After careful analysis of the State Parole Authority's decision, the Supreme Court concluded the authority had taken sufficient notice of these issues, he said.

    "We have tried to prevent the release of this offender on parole. We've done what we could."

    Chiew Seng Liew is due to be handed over to immigration authorities who will arrange his deportation to Malaysia.

     

    Supreme Court Decision – Chiew Seng Liew

    Issued: Thursday, 11 October 2012

    NSW Attorney General Greg Smith SC said today he would be reviewing the reasons of the Supreme Court.

    "This is a difficult day for the family of Dr Victor Chang and my thoughts are with them."

    "We tried very hard to have the decision to grant parole reviewed and are naturally disappointed with today's outcome. I will read the judgment before considering our response."

    New training framework to help clubs stay in shape

    Sunday 7 October, 2012    [PDF,170kb]

    A new training framework for directors of registered clubs and managers is being developed by the NSW Government with the support of ClubsNSW and the Club Managers’ Association Australia, Minister for Hospitality, George Souris said today.

    Mr Souris said the new training framework, which was announced today by the Premier in his speech to the Clubs NSW Conference, would help the State’s 12,000 club directors develop the skills to ensure their clubs remain sustainable.

    "This is another significant reform identified in the Memorandum of Understanding that we signed with ClubsNSW to help secure the viability of registered clubs across the State," Mr Souris said.

    "Clubs provide much needed jobs, high quality facilities and services and financial support for community and sporting organisations. They are particularly important in regional NSW where the local club is often the backbone of the town.

    "According to the Allen Consulting Group and the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal, NSW clubs employ 44,000 people and spend more than $1.2 billion on wages.

    "The research has also shown that clubs mobilise 44,000 volunteers in support of their core purposes, provide 1,550 bowling greens, 366 golf courses, 163 playing fields, 80 gymnasiums and 66 swimming pools.

    "The new training framework has been developed in close consultation with ClubsNSW and the Club Managers’ Association Australia.

    "The NSW Government is working closely with the industry to ensure clubs are involved in developing the framework and they benefit from the opportunities it presents."

    Mr Souris said the NSW Government would deliver this much-needed training framework for club directors, secretaries and managers to help secure the long-term future of the club industry.

    "Training helps to ensure club boards have the appropriate governance skills to make significant business decisions, while understanding their responsibilities in managing community-owned assets," Mr Souris said.

    "Training for directors will focus on board operations and club finances, including analysing financial reports and budgets. Club secretaries and managers will receive training on board governance and the role of the club secretary.

    "The training will be appropriate to the role these office-holders play in their clubs and to the size of the club, with sufficient time allowed for training to be undertaken. The new training requirements will commence from 1 July 2013."

    More information on the new training framework for clubs will be available from www.olgr.nsw.gov.au

    Attorneys General to examine impact of social media on trials

    Issued: Friday, 5 October 2012

    [PDF, 138kb]

    A working group will look at the impact of social media and its potential to compromise jury trials, Attorneys General from the States, Territories and Commonwealth agreed today.

    After a lively discussion on recent issues in social media including cyberbullying or trolling and the impact social media comments have on the right to a fair trial the Attorneys agreed to seek a coordinated national approach to the issue.

    NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, highlighted the need to develop protocols with overseas based social media organisations to ensure they comply with the state's suppression order laws. The companies also needed to accept service of take-down orders in a prompt manner so that potential damage from publication on social media can be contained.

    The Standing Council on Law and Justice agreed to set up a working party with representatives of mainstream and social media, judicial officers and law enforcement officials.

    The proposal was put forward by Victorian Attorney General, Robert Clark, who will also chair the working group.

    The group will make recommendations on:

    • model guidelines and warnings for users about prejudicial material

    • protocols with social media organisations for the removal of prejudicial material

    • procedures for law enforcement and courts to use social media to issue orders against users of social media and issue warnings to them

    • model jury directions on this issue which might be adopted by all states and territories

    • laws dealing with offences by jurors

    • the need for further research on the impact of social media on the actions of jurors.

    The Attorneys also noted "the potential for social media to jeopardise the right to a fair trial and in particular to compromise a jury trial".


    Daylight saving begins on Sunday

    Issued: Friday, 5 October 2012

    [PDF, 70kb]


    Daylight saving begins in NSW on Sunday, 7 October 2012, at 2am when clocks should be put forward one hour.

    Daylight saving will end on Sunday, 7 April 2013, at 3am when clocks are to be put back one hour.

    Daylight saving is held from the first Sunday in October until the first Sunday in April in all Australian states and territories except Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory where daylight saving is not observed.


    Attorney General supports Chief Magistrate

    Issued: Friday, 28 September 2012 

    NSW Attorney General Greg Smith SC, has today assured the Chief Magistrate Graeme Henson of his full support.

    "Suggestions in the media today that legislation dealing with entitlements to judicial pensions was amended to stop "double-dipping" by any individual are incorrect," Mr Smith said.

    "Chief Magistrate Henson had always made it clear when he was appointed a District Court judge he was not seeking a second pension."


    The Attorney General, when speaking on the amendments in the Legislative Assembly last month, said that the law was amended to address an anomaly in the act.

    "This amendment will clarify that a chief magistrate cannot count time served as chief magistrate towards the requirements for a judicial pension. The current Chief Magistrate agrees with this position," Mr Smith told parliament.

    Mr Smith today telephoned Chief Magistrate Henson to tell him he is fully aware of the Chief Magistrate's position on the issue.

    Violent offenders to stay in jail 

    Issued: Monday, 24 September 2012
    [PDF, 266kb]

    Violent prisoners who pose an unacceptable risk to the community on their release will be kept in jail under new legislation to be introduced by the NSW Government, Attorney General Greg Smith SC said today.

    Mr Smith said offenders could currently ignore the programs on offer and simply wait for their release date, without showing any signs of rehabilitation.


    "The community has a right to be protected from the worst of the worst for whom violence is a way of life," he said.

    The move follows a Sentencing Council report which said the Government "should introduce a continuing detention and extended supervision scheme for high-risk violent offenders".


    "There has been a gap in the law where a violent criminal is released without parole or where their parole is completed. There is need for further close supervision of some dangerous offenders," Mr Smith said.

    The legislation will be modelled on existing legislation under which serious sex offenders can be kept in jail or under extended supervision in the community after their sentence expires.

    Should the State decide to oppose the release of a violent inmate, an application will be made to the Supreme Court – a process that will involve assessment by independent medical practitioners.

    The court orders and management of the offenders under such orders will be regularly reviewed.

    Mr Smith said the government had a "zero-tolerance" attitude when it came to serious violent crime.

    "Public safety should not be compromised by violent offenders who show no interest in rehabilitation," Mr Smith said.

    "We want them to undergo treatment, under extensive supervision, which assists them to reintegrate into the community and obey the law."


    "Some inmates are like ticking time bombs, just waiting to go off and cause untold damage. We cannot stand by and let that happen if we have been warned of the risk."

    "We expect those who 'do the crime' will 'do the time' and to keep doing the time until they are no longer a serious risk to the community."

    Offenders with a history of serious violent offences will be assessed before their release to determine if this legislation will apply to them.

    An audit by Corrective Services identified 14 high-risk offenders due for release within three years. Most are serving sentences for multiple offences such as murder, torture, armed robbery, kidnapping and maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm. Most also have a history of misconduct in jail. They range in age from 23 to 65.


    Review of Parole Authority decision

    Issued: Sunday, 23 September 2012
    [PDF, 106kb]

    Attorney General Greg Smith SC will ask the Supreme Court to review the decision to grant parole to the killer of heart surgeon Victor Chang, Chiew Seng Liew.

    The State Parole Authority decided last Thursday that Liew should be released on parole next month.

    "I received legal advice that a judicial review of the authority's decision is warranted," Mr Smith said. 

    "This killer cannot be supervised by Australian authorities once he is deported and there is no way to enforce his parole conditions in Malaysia."

    "I believe it is not in the public interest to release him when he has only served one year of his six year parole period."

    Liew has served 21 years of a maximum 26 year sentence for the killing of Dr Chang in July 1991 in a Mosman street.

    The Supreme Court will be asked to consider the motion as a matter of urgency.

    Liew's earliest possible release date is October 3.

    Commonwealth DPP to become District Court Judge

    Issued: Friday, 21 September 2012
    [PDF, 165kb]

    The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, Chris Craigie SC, will be appointed a judge of the District Court of NSW after his five-year term as the nation's top prosecutor ends at midnight.

    The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today congratulated Mr Craigie on his appointment and paid tribute to his achievements as Commonwealth DPP. 

    "During Mr Craigie's tenure, the office of the Commonwealth DPP has achieved successfully prosecutions in some of the most challenging and complex cases brought before the nation's courts," Mr Smith said.

    "These include terrorism trials in NSW and Victoria and the trial of former NSW Crime Commission assistant director Mark Standen for a drug importation conspiracy. "

    Mr Craigie will bring 36 years of legal experience to the bench of the District Court.  He has specialised in criminal law, regularly appearing as trial and appellate counsel. 

    In the early stages of his career, Mr Craigie worked in the criminal indictable section of the NSW Public Solicitor's Office (the predecessor to the Legal Aid Commission).  He was called to the Bar in 1980 and maintained a successful criminal practice until he became a Public Defender in 1994.

    In 2001, Mr Craigie was appointed a Senior Counsel and in the same year was elevated to the position of Deputy Senior Public Defender for NSW.  He was Acting Senior Public Defender when selected as Commonwealth DPP in 2007.

    Mr Craigie is a member of every state and territory Bar. He has also been a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law, a member of the Council of the Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration and is a member of the University of New South Wales Law School's Dean's Advisory Council.  

    Mr Craigie will be sworn in as a District Court judge on 15 October 2012

    Crown Prosecutor to be a District Court Judge

    Issued: Thursday, 20 September 2012 
    [PDF, 105kb]

    The Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today announced the appointment of Crown Prosecutor, Sarah Huggett, as a judge of the District Court of NSW.

    "Ms Huggett has been prosecuting serious criminal trials in NSW for more than a decade, including a large number of complex sexual assault cases," Mr Smith said.

    "She has also played a role in bringing some of the state's worst killers to justice."

    Ms Huggett performed the role of junior counsel for the prosecution in the trial of Sef Gonzales who murdered his family at their North Ryde home in 2001.  She also assisted in the prosecution of backpacker killer Ivan Milat.  Both men are serving life sentences.

    Ms Huggett has advised the Director of Public Prosecutions on a range of important matters, such as whether to commence criminal proceedings in matters referred by the coroner. 
     

    She is also a member of the NSW Sexual Assault Review Committee and the Criminal Law Committee of the NSW Bar Association.

    Prior to being appointed as a Crown Prosecutor in 2001, Ms Huggett served as a Trial Advocate in the Central West region of NSW and as a solicitor for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in Sydney.

    Outside of the courtroom, Ms Huggett has lectured in comparative criminal law in Los Angeles and is a volunteer in a University of Sydney mentoring program for women.
    Ms Huggett will be sworn in as a District Court judge on 15 October 2012.


    DPP to appeal sentence

    Issued: Thursday, 20 September 2012
    [PDF, 43kb]

    The Director of Public Prosecutions yesterday decided to lodge an appeal against the sentence given to Mahmoud Mariam for affray and the manslaughter of Mr Bob Knight.

     

    NSW to introduce R18+ Computer game rating

    Issued: Wednesday, 19 September 2012
    [PDF, 268kb]

    Legislation to introduce a new classification regime for computer games was passed by the NSW Parliament today.

    Attorney General Greg Smith SC, said changes to the classification of computer games would introduce an R18+ rating and tighten the existing MA 15+ rating.

    "This is a victory for adult gamers and a victory for parents who want to protect their children from computer games with unsuitable content," Mr Smith said.

    The Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Enforcement Amendment (R18+ Computer Games) Bill 2012 will implement a national regime to bring the rules for computer games into line with films.

    "Many parents are rightfully concerned that some games rated R18+ in other countries carry an MA 15+ rating in Australia," Mr Smith said.

    "Some MA 15+ games may now be reclassified as R18+ if they contain material that is not suitable for teenagers under 18."

    "Minors should be protected from material that is likely to harm or disturb them."


    Mr Smith said the reforms would not dilute the Refused Classification category. "Even at an R18+ level, actual sexual violence will not be permitted, nor will implied depictions if they are interactive, not justified by context or related to incentives or rewards."

    In July last year, Federal and State Attorneys General agreed to introduce an R18+ rating for computer games.  After extensive negotiations, the NSW and Federal Attorneys General have reached agreement on guidelines for the classification of computer games.

    New federal guidelines on the classification of computer games will come into effect from 1 January 2013. 

    Under the new state law, it will become an offence to sell an R18+ computer game to a minor.

    More than 98 per cent of submissions to a 2009 Federal Government discussion paper supported an adult rating for computer games. In 2010, a national phone survey found 80 per cent of Australians supported the rating.

    First ever graduates of Intensive Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program 

    Issued: Friday, 14 September 2012
    [PDF, 123kb]

    NSW Attorney General and Minister for Justice Greg Smith, SC, has praised the first participants to complete the Government's new Intensive Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program (IDATP), who graduated from the program on Thursday.

    "I commend the achievements of these 20 graduates," Mr Smith said. 

    "In completing this intensive program they have taken a very big step towards addressing their problems with drugs and alcohol."

    The Intensive Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program is a major NSW Government initiative that aims to provide a new approach to alcohol and other drug treatment and reduce drug-related crime for offenders serving custodial sentences. 

    It is a unique partnership between Corrective Services NSW, Justice Health and the Forensic Mental Health Network to address primary health and the mental health needs of offenders.

    "IDATP is a full-time, custody-based therapeutic centre to help offenders overcome drug and alcohol addictions – on a scale never seen before anywhere in the world," Mr Smith said.

    "The program encompasses a treatment facility that recognises the multi-layered needs of alcohol and drug dependant offenders.

    "Treatment incorporates a range of therapeutic, health, education, vocation and employment programs aimed at addressing substance dependence and offending behaviour.

    "Treatment is tailored to meet the individual needs of each offender, based on evidence-based best practice. These are methods that are known to work in drug and alcohol treatment and in reducing the risk of re-offending."

    The concept for the program recognises the importance of supporting participants through their transition to the community and beyond. 

    "Pre and post support of offenders is integral to the program's success and will include engagement with a range of community and government agencies to enhance reintegration opportunities," Mr Smith said.

    The therapeutic program focuses on:

    • Enhancing and maintaining motivation to abstain from addictive behaviour

    • Learning how to cope with urges and cravings

    • Using rational ways to manage thoughts, feelings and behaviours

    • Balancing short-term and long-term pleasures and satisfactions in life

    • Changing antisocial thoughts, values and choices

    • Interpersonal and social skills training for cognitive self-control, relationships and community responsibility

    • A comprehensive relapse and recidivism change plan with interaction, role playing, skills practice and homework.

    Eligible offenders are sentenced inmates with a documented history of problematic drug and/or alcohol use. They must have a minimum non-parole period of six months still to serve and a minimum or medium security classification.  


    The program, being implemented over several stages, commenced in February this year, with the opening of a 62-bed unit at John Morony Correctional Centre.

    The second stage, which was implemented in July, will see another 62-bed unit filled and the second class of participants is currently working through the program.

    Two more units will be opened next year, resulting in a total of 248 beds before the final stage is implemented in mid 2014. 

    This will provide an extra 50 female beds within Dillwynia Correctional Centre, bringing the total number of participants to 298 when the program is fully implemented.

     

    Call to support changes to right to silence 

    Issued: Wednesday, 12 September 2012
    [PDF, 269kb]


    The Attorney General Greg Smith, SC, today challenged the Opposition to back the State's police by supporting action to break criminals' code of silence.

    Mr Smith said a draft Bill outlining proposed changes to the "right to silence" law will be posted on the website of the Department of Attorney General & Justice today and encouraged stakeholders to comment on the planned changes.

    "The NSW Government is closing a legal loophole to stop criminals exploiting the system to avoid prosecution," Mr Smith said.

    "This is a common sense reform that will have widespread community support  - it's time the Opposition backed police whose efforts in dealing with recent criminal activity have been frustrated by suspects using silence as a shield against the criminal justice system."

    Last month, the Government announced plans to allow juries and judges to draw adverse inferences against alleged criminals who refused to speak to police but later produce "evidence" at trial.

    Under the plan, designed to tilt the scales of justice towards common sense, police will issue people suspected of serious crimes with a new caution, warning them that it could harm their defence if they fail to tell police about something they later rely on in their defence.

    The Bill would give police the power they need when confronted with suspects who use silence as a shield against the criminal justice system, Mr Smith said.

    "A jury will be able to draw adverse inferences against an accused who failed to mention something to investigating police they could, given the circumstances, reasonably have been expected to mention," Mr Smith said.

    The new law would apply only to adult defendants (over 18 years); would not apply to people with cognitive impairments; and would only apply to people who had had the chance to consult a lawyer about the implications of remaining silent.

    The Government is committed to trialling a telephone advice line staffed by lawyers to provide advice to suspects held for questioning by police.

    "The proposal will safeguard vulnerable people including juveniles and those with a mental illness, but ensure that hardened criminals will face the full force of the law, and do not hide behind a wall of silence," said Mr Smith.


    The law reflect reforms made in Britain and Wales in 1994, and will apply to serious indictable offences. 


    Interested parties can comment on the draft bill until September 28.

    The draft bill and details of the consultation process are available at the following website: http://www.lpclrd.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/lpclrd/lpclrd_index.html

    Sydney Silk appointed a District Court Judge

    Issued: Thursday, 6 September 2012
    [PDF, 46kb]


    The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today announced the appointment of Ian McClintock SC as a judge of the District Court of NSW. 

    "Mr McClintock is one of the state's foremost barristers, who has practised principally in criminal law in a career spanning 35 years," Mr Smith said. 

    "He is a Commissioner of Legal Aid NSW, a Member of the Criminal Law Committee of the NSW Bar Association and a founding member of the Forbes Chambers in Sydney, which specialises in criminal law." 

    Mr McClintock has frequently represented defendants in serious criminal matters before the District Court, the Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeal and has occasionally conducted prosecution work in the District Court and the Land and Environment Court and the ACT Supreme Court. 

    Mr McClintock has also appeared as Counsel Assisting the Coroner, most recently at the inquest into the death of a man in a brawl at St George Leagues Club following the 2010 grand final.

    In addition, Mr McClintock has appeared in hearings before the Industrial Court, the Local Court, the Independent Commission Against Corruption and various crime investigatory bodies. 

    Mr McClintock began his legal career in 1977 and was involved in the establishment of the Redfern Legal Centre. Prior to being admitted to the Bar in 1986, he worked for Legal Aid and the Criminal Law Review Division of the Attorney General's Department. Mr McClintock was appointed senior counsel in 2002. 

    Mr McClintock will be sworn in as a District Court judge on 24 September 2012.

     

    Banning order legislation unused

    Issued: Friday, 24 August 2012
    [PDF, 133kb]

    The decision to repeal the Sporting Venues (Offender Banning Orders) Act 2005 was made after a review confirmed no banning orders had been made under the Act since it commenced, the NSW Attorney General Greg Smith SC said today.

    "A review of the Act, which considered submissions from legal stakeholders and sporting bodies, found that no banning orders had been made and that the Act was doing nothing to prevent violence and disorder at sporting events," Mr Smith said. 

    "A sporting body can issue their own ban immediately following unacceptable behaviour, which is more effective than going through a time consuming court process.

    "The banning systems administered by sporting bodies are far more flexible and can be applied with national or even international consistency."

    The NSW Minister for Sport and Recreation, Graham Annesley, said the current protocols being administered by major sporting codes against unruly conduct at sporting events had proven to be successful.

    "The Football Federation of Australia has been vigilant having banned 16 people since 2009, and they have already banned individuals involved in recent incidents at Campbelltown Stadium and Edensor Park.

    "The NRL currently has a memorandum of understanding with the NSW Police enforcing bans which has seen over 30 people banned," Mr Annesley said.

    "In addition to being banned from venues, violent spectators may expose themselves to prosecution under the Crimes Act," Mr Smith said.

    Mental illness and the criminal justice system

    Issued: Thursday, 23 August 2012
    [PDF, 105kb]


    The NSW Government will carefully consider the NSW Law Reform Commission's report on the diversion of people with cognitive and mental health impairments in the criminal justice system, the Attorney General, Greg Smith SC said today.

    "People with mental impairments are overrepresented in our courts and jails and the report's recommendations aim to reduce their reoffending by ensuring their impairments are identified early and they have access to appropriate treatment and support," Mr Smith said.

    The report's 55 recommendations include:

    • expanding services that conduct mental health assessments of defendants at an early stage of the court process;

    • reforming existing legislative powers for courts to divert people with cognitive and mental health impairments;

    • creating a specialist court list to manage cases involving people with cognitive and mental health impairments;

    • expanding the Court Referral of Eligible Defendants into Treatment (CREDIT) program, which addresses the causes of an offender's criminal behaviour; and

    • clearer definitions of mental health and cognitive impairment.

    "Courts alone can't resolve the complex problems faced by people with mental impairments – an effective response will require continuing support from a variety of agencies in areas such as health, justice, housing and disability," Mr Smith said.

    "More comprehensive and effective management of cases involving defendants with mental health issues will help to create safer communities and reduce the risk of unwell people falling through the cracks and committing further crime."

    The Department of Attorney General and Justice will set up a committee to prepare a whole-of-government response to the Law Reform Commission's report. The committee will include senior officers from key mental health, disability and criminal justice agencies. The report can be obtained at www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/lrc

    The Law Reform Commission is currently examining matters involving fitness to be tried for a criminal offence, the defence of mental illness and the management of forensic patients. This report is due for completion later in the year.

    Graffiti removal day - 23 September 2012

    Issued: Wednesday, 22 August 2012
    [PDF, 251kb]


    The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today urged communities across NSW to join the fight against graffiti by participating in Graffiti Removal Day on Sunday 23 September 2012.

    Mr Smith said the NSW Government was taking big strides in fighting the scourge of graffiti but local communities should also get involved. 

    "Graffiti Removal Day will enable frustrated communities to get involved in the fight against the scourge of graffiti," Mr Smith said. 

    "Community members and local councils will be able to nominate graffiti hotspots and volunteer for the clean-up via the Graffiti Removal Day website."

    Rotary Down Under is running Graffiti Removal Day and will harness the power of social media to maximise the impact of the day.

    "Rotary is utilising Facebook and Twitter to update the community on the event and encourage people to contribute their ideas on tackling graffiti." 

    Mr Smith said the success of the NSW Government's new Graffiti Hotline (1800 707 125) demonstrated the importance of community involvement in combating graffiti.

    "The hotline has received 1076 calls since it was established in March, resulting in 940 graffiti reports being referred to councils and other government agencies for action," Mr Smith said.

    "The volume of calls shows that the community feels strongly about graffiti and wants to do something about it"

    Mr Smith said that Graffiti Removal Day and the Graffiti Hotline are key parts of the government's graffiti strategy, which also includes stronger penalties for graffiti offenders.

    "These laws will send young offenders a very clear message – if you go out to vandalise public or private property you will face the consequences and that can include the time you spend on a learner or provisional driver's licence."

    For more information on Graffiti Removal Day 2012 call 1300 665 310 or visit the website at: www.graffitiremovalday.org.au


    Tough new graffiti laws to come into force  

    Issued: Tuesday, 21 August 2012
    [PDF, 278kb]


    The NSW Government will deliver on its promise to implement tough new laws targeting graffiti, with legislation set to pass Parliament.

    The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, said the new laws will:

    • Require juvenile graffiti vandals to appear before the court for a graffiti offence;

    • Give courts the power to:

    • extend the time graffiti offenders spend on learner or provisional licences

    • limit the number of demerit points they are able to accrue over a specific period;

    • Require the cleaning up of graffiti be a condition of any court imposed Community Service Order on graffiti offenders.

     "These are tough reforms by any measure," Mr Smith said.

    "The new laws are significantly stronger than anything Labor introduced over 16 years and would have been even stronger had Labor supported the original Bill.

    "With the passing of these laws, magistrates will be empowered to put offenders on licence restrictions and reduce the offender's number of demerit points.

    "It sends young offenders a very clear message – if you go out to vandalise public or private property you will face the consequences and that can now include the time you spend on a learner or provisional driver's licence.

    "The NSW Government is determined to eliminate the scourge of graffiti.

    "If the community is concerned about why our original bill is not being delivered in full, they should ask their local Labor MP why they failed to support this legislation when it was presented the first time around."


    Inspector of custodial services bill passes parliament

    Issued: Thursday, 16 August 2012 
    [PDF, 195kb]


    The bill establishing an Inspector of Custodial Services has passed the NSW Parliament, Attorney General and Minister for Justice Greg Smith SC announced today.

    The Inspector of Custodial Services Bill 2012 has passed through both the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council without amendment.

    "The legislation will enable the appointment of an inspector who will be a champion for prisons and prison officers," Mr Smith said.

    "The appointment of an Inspector of Custodial Services will deliver on another of the NSW Government's election commitments."

    The Inspector will have jurisdiction over all correctional facilities, including public and private sector prisons and juvenile justice centres, court custody centres, police cells managed by Corrective Services NSW, transitional centres, prisoner transport and support services. 

    The independent watchdog will be able to review correctional and juvenile justice facilities at any time and make recommendations about issues of concern.

    The Inspector will be required to:

    • report on each juvenile justice facility at least once every three years;

    • report on each adult correctional facility at least once every five years;

    • conduct additional inspections at the request of a government minister; and

    • provide an annual report to Parliament and the Minister for Justice.

    "It will be an offence to give a false statement to an Inspector or to hinder their investigations and the law will protect whistle-blowers," Mr Smith said.

    An Inspector will be appointed for a five-year term before the end of the year.

    Government campaign to fight alcohol abuse

    Wednesday 15 August 2012   [PDF,94kb]

    Minister for Hospitality, George Souris, has announced that the NSW Government would soon unveil a major advertising campaign warning of the many problems associated with binge drinking and misuse of alcohol.

    "This follows a pledge I made at a recent Town Hall forum on violence in Kings Cross in the wake of the tragic death of young Thomas Kelly," Mr Souris said.

    "At that forum, Mr David Anstee, a friend of the Kelly family, made a heartfelt plea to me asking for a government-run advertising campaign to help change attitudes of young people regarding the misuse of alcohol and attack the underlying culture that binge drinking is cool.

    "I pledged that I would contact my colleague, Minister for Health, Jillian Skinner, in that regard and get back to him and I have done that".

    Mrs Skinner said the NSW Ministry of Health is contributing to a whole-of-Government response to public concern about the effects of excessive alcohol consumption, particularly among the State’s youth.

    "The NSW Government is committed to ensuring the public has access to health information in a variety of mediums, on issues including the effects of excessive alcohol consumption," Mrs Skinner said.

    Mrs Skinner said one campaign is aimed at educating young people (16-29 years of age) about the risks associated with binge or excessive drinking and public drunkenness.

    "It is anticipated that the campaign will run across a variety of mediums including outdoor posters, in-venue advertising and print media, with the capacity to develop a digital/social application."

    Mrs Skinner said the aim of the campaign is to reduce levels of excessive drinking and anti-social behaviour while increasing community awareness about the physical and social effects of alcohol abuse.

    "An additional campaign is set to engage the broader community about how and why we drink and the ways negative drinking behaviours can be addressed," Mrs Skinner said.

    Mr Souris announced that a further initiative - an interactive, internet-based alcohol education resource for senior secondary school students, developed by the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing is developing in partnership with the Department of Education and Communities which will be available to all senior NSW public high schools in term 4 of this year.

    "It aims to improve young people’s awareness around alcohol, the law and the potential risks and dangers associated with alcohol use.

    "By educating young people about the impacts of their behaviour on themselves, their friends and their community, this initiative aims to minimise alcohol-related harm among younger people, Mr Souris said.

    "Changing Australian drinking culture will not happen overnight nor will it happen with a single burst of advertising. In order to maximise the impact of the Alcohol and Culture Campaign…commitment is required... and we have that commitment".

    Restrictions on Kings Cross licensed venues

    Wednesday 15 August ,2012   [PDF,248kb]

    Premier Barry O’Farrell today announced tough new conditions on Kings Cross pubs, bars, nightclubs and restaurants following an audit by the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing.

    Mr O’Farrell said the audit of all late trading venues in the Cross last month made a compelling case for dramatic change.

    "During the audit, the incident registers of the late trading venues – registers they are required by law to keep – were carefully examined," Mr O’Farrell said.

    "That examination revealed a large disparity between the number of people being refused service because they were drunk; and the number of people turfed out for being drunk.

    "Many more people were turfed out than were refused service – a scenario which has raised serious concerns about the application of responsible service of alcohol laws in the Cross.

    "The unfortunate conclusion is that in the Cross, you will continue to be sold alcohol until you are so drunk you are thrown out – and the problem is transferred to the streets.

    "This is not what the community wants in what should be a vibrant and safe nightspot."

    Mr O’Farrell said tragic death of teen Thomas Kelly had, quite rightly, focussed attention on Kings Cross.

    "A man is facing court over the death of young Tom Kelly, and the justice system will deal with this terrible case," Mr O’Farrell said.

    "In the meantime, the Government makes no apologies for dealing with the situation in Kings Cross. Further changes can be expected as the Kings Cross Plan of Management is finalised.

    "The licensees in the Cross can now make a submission on the new conditions, but they should be under no illusion about our determination to reduce alcohol-related violence."

    Hospitality Minister George Souris said the Director General of NSW Trade & Investment, whose department oversees the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing, today notified the 58 licensed venues in the Kings Cross Precinct Liquor Accord of the planned restrictions.

    "The NSW Government is determined to act swiftly to improve safety in and around licensed venues in the Kings Cross precinct," Mr Souris said.

    "These proposed measures impose strict restrictions on these high-risk licensed venues to bolster alcohol and patron management and help ensure the safety of both individuals and the community."

    The changes in the licence conditions in the Cross will mean that on Friday and Saturday nights:

    • shots, doubles, and ready-to-drink beverages (over five per cent alcohol) will be not be sold after midnight;
    • no-one will be able to buy more than four alcoholic drinks at a time after midnight;
    • from 11pm, two Responsible Service of Alcohol marshals must be on duty in each venue; and
    • no alcohol will be sold or supplied in the hour before closing.

    On every night of the week, the changes will mean:

    • glasses, glass bottles and glass jugs will be banned after midnight;
    • venue managers will immediately notify police of any violence causing injury, and preserve the crime scene;
    • all licensed venues trading past midnight must maintain a digital CCTV system covering entries and exits, the footpath immediately adjacent to the venue, and all publicly accessible areas within the venue (excluding toilets). It must operate continuously from opening time until one hour after closing and footage must be provided to authorities within one working day of a request; and
    • incident registers must be maintained at all times, rather than just just after midnight, as is the case now.

     

    The 58 licensed venues to be covered by the proposed new conditions are: Aperitif Restaurant, Bada Bing Night Spot, Barons Restaurant, Barrio Chino, Bayswater Brasserie Events Pty Limited, Bayswater Brasserie Restaurant, Beachhaus, Bootleg Bar & Italian Food, Caffe Roma Restaurant, Candy's Nightclub, Cazalys Sydney, Charcoal Plaza BBQ Buffet Restaurant, Club 21, Dancers Cabaret, Deans Cafe Restaurant, Disco Nightclub Pty Ltd, Dreamgirls, First Empire Hotel, Fountain Cafe Restaurant, Hampton Court Hotel, Holiday Inn Potts Point, Hugo's Bar Pizza, Hugo's Lounge, Iguana Bar & Restaurant, Jimmy Lik's, Ju Ju Japanese Restaurant, Kings Cafe Restaurant, Kings Cross Eye Bar, le panic, Mansions Hotel, Miss G's, Moulin Rouge, New Paradise Restaurant, Piccadilly Hotel, Sapphire Lounge, Showgirls, Sugarmill Hotel, Suite 17, Tharen Restaurant & Bar, The Backroom, The Bank Hotel Sydney, The Bourbon, The Crest Hotel, The Elk Kings Cross, The Kings Cross Hotel, The Lincoln Bar, The Palladium Restaurant, The Rouge Downunder, The Village Potts Point Pty Ltd, The World Bar, Tomatillo Mexican Grill, Tonic Lounge, Trademark Hotel, Tunnel Nightclub, Vegas Hotel, Villa, Watermoon Japanese Restaurant, and Zanzibar Café.

    *Note: 18 of the 58 venues are not currently trading. The new restrictions will apply to these venues if and when they resume trading.

     

    Crime crackdown: "Right to silence" law toughened

    Issued: Tuesday, 14 August 2012

    [PDF, 205kb] 

    The scales of justice will be tilted towards common sense when the "right to silence" law is toughened, NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell announced today.

    Mr O'Farrell said the Evidence Act would be amended to allow juries and the judiciary to draw an adverse inference against an alleged criminal who refuses to speak to investigating police, but later produces "evidence" at trial in a bid to be found not guilty.

    The current law sees juries explicitly instructed by trial judges not to draw an adverse inference from such behaviour.

    "It's been too easy to say: 'I have nothing to say'," Mr O'Farrell said.

    "Jurors are smart enough to know if there is something suspicious about evidence which suddenly appears at a trial and is designed to get the accused off."

    Attorney General Greg Smith said the right to silence was an important legal principle but it was too easily exploited.

    "There are many occasions where it is just sensible to conclude there is something a bit suspicious about an accused who fails to co-operate with police during an investigation, only to later reveal something which they claim proves their innocence," Mr Smith said.

    "On the other hand, juries are smart enough to be able to apply common sense if it's clear someone has been wrongly accused of a crime.

    "For example, an innocent accused may fail to provide relevant evidence to police because they panicked, or were trying to conceal a shameful act or minor crime.

    "But it is not common sense for us to keep a law which means juries are actively instructed not to draw an adverse inference in such circumstances."

    The caution now given by police:

    "You are not obliged to say or do anything unless you wish to do so, but whatever you say or do may be used in evidence. Do you understand?"

    will be changed to:

    "You are not obliged to say or do anything unless you wish to do so. But it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something you later rely on in court. Anything you do say and do may be given in evidence. Do you understand?"

    The proposed change reflects reforms made in Britain and Wales in 1994, and will apply to serious indictable offences.

    Police Minister Mike Gallacher said the change would be welcomed by police and the community.

    "The right to silence can be exploited by criminals and failing to answer police can impede investigations," Mr Gallacher said.

    "They won't be able to hide behind their vow of silence anymore."

    The NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione welcomed the change to the right to silence law.

    "This is a welcome aid to what is traditionally a difficult area in policing," Mr Scipione said.   "This is a common sense approach which should see a decrease in the use of silence by suspects during police questioning.

    "The NSW Police welcomes anything that helps us break down this wall of silence.'' 

    Mr O'Farrell said a draft bill would be finalised by the end of August with legislation to be introduced into Parliament in October.

     

    Jail sentences for match fixing

    Issued: Tuesday, 14 August 2012

    [PDF, 172kb] 

    NSW Minister for Sport and Recreation, Graham Annesley, said legislation to be introduced into Parliament will send a clear message that anyone found guilty of match fixing or corrupting the betting outcome of a sporting event could face up to 10 years jail.

    "There is no bigger threat to the integrity of sport than match-fixing and this legislation will ensure anyone involved in the industry is sent a very strong message about the risks and consequences," Mr Annesley said.

    "NSW is the first jurisdiction in Australia to introduce these tough new penalties.

    "Sport is big business these days and it would be naive of any government to think sport is immune to corrupt conduct.

    "NSW is setting the benchmark and will ensure anyone convicted will face severe penalties," Mr Annesley warned.

    The proposed Crimes Amendment (Cheating at Gambling) Bill 2012 will see a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment for anyone found to have engaged in or facilitated conduct that corrupts the outcome of an event.

    NSW Minister for Hospitality and Racing, George Souris said: "These reforms are essential for a safe, transparent and legitimate market in sports and racing betting.

    "Quite simply, cheating at any level undermines public confidence and the NSW Government and the Racing Industry is absolutely committed to making certain the reputation of sport and racing in this state remains intact," Mr Souris said. 

    NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, said: "The proposed reforms follow a Law Reform Commission Report, agreement with all states and territories on a nationally consistent approach, and an extensive consultation process involving a wide range of legal and industry based interests."  

     

    Mr Annesley added: "The new legislation will be the linchpin of a national approach to ensuring the integrity of sport is protected."

    Aboriginal problem gambling targeted

    Monday 13 August , 2012      [PDF,96kb]

    Minister for Hospitality and Racing, George Souris, today announced a multi-million dollar, three-year strategy to target problem gambling in NSW Aboriginal communities.

    Mr Souris said the comprehensive; $4.05 million Gambling and Aboriginal People Strategy will include community engagement, education and awareness, problem gambling screening, counselling and support services, training, and a cadetship programme for Aboriginal problem gambling workers.

    He also announced a further $192,940 for a six-month extension to the NSW Aboriginal Safe Gambling Service program run by former Newcastle Knights footballer and problem gambling counsellor Ashley Gordon and currently being provided to more than 30 communities.

    Mr Souris also announced an additional $50,000 to develop and promote problem gambling resources and marketing communications for Aboriginal communities.

    "This $4.29 million allocation by the NSW Government through its Responsible Gambling Fund will focus on supporting aspects of programs which have been proven to deliver achievements and outcomes for Aboriginal people experiencing gambling problems," Mr Souris said.

    "The Gambling and Aboriginal People Strategy will adopt lessons from previous successful programs to build on knowledge, experience, community support and trust which has been built up to date.

    "In doing so, it will seek to provide visible, culturally-appropriate and effective education, prevention, early-intervention and treatment of problem gambling and associated issues within NSW Aboriginal communities."

    Mr Souris said key elements of the Gambling and Aboriginal People Strategy will include:

    • Community engagement to raise awareness of problem gambling as a complex health and cultural issue for Aboriginal people;
    • Education programs including strategies for prevention and early intervention and the promotion of help-seeking and assistance;
    • Screening for problem gambling including information on problem gambling, the development of specialist treatment of problem gambling within Aboriginal communities, and improved protocols for mainstream Gambling Help services interacting with Aboriginal people;
    • Cultural awareness training to support successful interactions with Aboriginal communities on problem gambling and with Aboriginal clients to control gambling and achieve harm minimisation;
    • Distribution of Aboriginal-specific information and materials on problem gambling to Aboriginal organisations and mainstream services that work with Aboriginal communities;
    • $1.5 million over three years to establish an Aboriginal Problem Gambling Counsellor Cadetship Program. Initially announced in the May Budget, this program will allocate $500,000 a year for training, mentoring and placement of Aboriginal workers within Gambling Help counselling services to deliver community education and support in Aboriginal communities.


    Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Minister for Citizenship and Communities, Victor Dominello, welcomed the strategy.

    Mr Dominello said gambling is a source of significant problems for both individuals and families in Aboriginal communities resulting in financial hardship, family discord and contact with the criminal justice system.

    "According to the Centre for Gambling Education and Research, problem gambling is prevalent in about two per cent of the mainstream population but in Aboriginal communities that figure is about 15 per cent with some communities experiencing over 30 per cent prevalence," Mr Dominello said.

    "The harm associated with gambling is linked to the abuse of alcohol and other drugs, financial distress, domestic violence, neglect of children, eviction and a myriad of other health and welfare issues.

    "The NSW Government is committed to helping address this important social issue through programs that effectively meet the specific needs of Aboriginal communities."

    Good Will Week starts this Sunday: Before you take off, take up a Will

    Issued: Friday, 3 August 2012

    This year's Good Will Week (5-11 August 2012) encourages adults to make a valid Will, and to make sure they update it as their life changes. Good Will Week is a community education program organised by NSW Trustee & Guardian to encourage all adults in NSW to make sure they have an up-to-date and legally valid Will.

    Recent research by NSW Trustee & Guardian has found 47 per cent (*) of Australians saying they take risks and do things on holiday they would not try at home.  With so many Australians travelling overseas, the theme of Good Will Week 2012 - Before you take off, take up a Will, is reminding people to make sure they have an up-to-date and legally valid Will before they head overseas.

    The study asked over 2,000 Australian adults about their attitude to travel, the types of risks they take on holiday and why, as well as whether they have a Will in place before they travel.

    "Our research found that around half the number of adults do not have a Will, however recent Newspoll (**) research found that 20 per cent of adults said that going on an overseas holiday would trigger them to make a Will, which is why we are especially targeting this group this year," said Ruth Pollard, Assistant Director Legal Services, NSW Trustee & Guardian.

    "Whether we are at home or heading overseas, none of us knows what is around the corner, so it is important for us to be prepared so we don't leave behind a logistical and emotional mess for our loved ones."

     

    What's on – Good Will Week

    How to have the holiday of a lifetime!

     

    FREE workshop - Friday 10 August 2012

    If you are looking for holiday inspiration or simply how to make your next holiday the trip of a lifetime, then this FREE Good Will Week workshop is for you.  Join intrepid traveller and host of Sydney Weekender Mike Whitney and Dr David Beirman, senior lecturer in tourism at UTS, as they share their insights on places to go and how to make the most out of any trip.

     

    With more than seven million Australians travelling overseas every year, the organiser of Good Will Week 2012, NSW Trustee & Guardian is reminding every adult that before they take off on holiday, they should make or update their Will.

    • Date: Friday 10 August 2012

    • Place: State Library, Macquarie Street, Sydney

    • Time: 12.15pm for 12.30pm start, through until 1.30pm

    • Cost: FREE

    • Booking: 02 9240 0797 or visit www.goodwillweek.com.au to book

    Saturday Wills Days

    On Saturday 11 August there will be a number of Wills Days throughout the State where busy people can write or update their Will.  There is no charge to make their Will when they appoint NSW Trustee & Guardian as executor; fees are charged on estate administration only.  Visit the Good Will Week website to make a booking at one of the Wills days www.goodwillweek.com.au.

     
    Good Will Week Website

    The Good Wills Week website at www.goodwillweek.com.au contains lots of information about Good Will Week and Wills in general, including: advice on how to start planning your Will; results of our travel survey; details on the range of community events taking place during Good Will Week, as well as an online booking form to reserve a place; and facts and real life scenarios on why it's important to make a Will.

    Visitors to the site will also be able to request a Wills appointment at one of the Saturday Wills days or any day, Monday to Friday at a NSW Trustee & Guardian branch.

    Notes: (*) Pure Profile June 2012 (**) Newspoll June 2012


    Sydney barrister appointed Supreme Court Judge

    Issued: Thursday, 26 July 2012
    [PDF, 93kb]


    The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today announced the appointment of Geoff Lindsay SC as a judge of the Supreme Court of NSW.

    Mr Lindsay has been practising as a barrister for 33 years, specialising in equity, commercial and administrative law. He was appointed Senior Counsel in 1994.

    At the time of his appointment as a judge, he was the Chairman of the Council of Law Reporting of NSW and was a member of the Council of the NSW Bar Association.  He was also the Bar Association's representative on the Uniform Rules Committee and the Supreme Court Rule Committee. 

    "Aside from being highly proficient in the law, Mr Lindsay is also an accomplished writer whose succinct and engaging columns have kept the legal profession informed and entertained," Mr Smith said.

    Mr Lindsay has served as editor of the Australian Bar Review since 1996 and was the editor of the "People in the Law" column in the Australian Law Journal for many years.

    He also has a strong interest in advancing the study of Australian legal history. He has been the secretary of the Francis Forbes Society for Australian Legal History since its foundation in 2002.  The society's activities include the conduct of the Australian Legal History Competition, which is open each year to all secondary school and undergraduate tertiary students throughout Australia.

    Mr Lindsay will be sworn in as a judge of the Supreme Court on 6 August 2012.

    "I congratulate Mr Lindsay on his well-deserved appointment and wish him success as he enters this new chapter of his career," Mr Smith said.

     

    Phase 1 of Kings Cross audit complete

    Monday 23 July, 2012        [PDF,54kb]

    Minister for Hospitality, George Souris, has announced that the first phase of the audit of late trading licensed venues in Kings Cross which began last Tuesday night (17 July) has now been completed.

    “The Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) inspectors have visited 45 venues in Kings Cross which are currently trading, recording details of their incident and responsible service of alcohol (RSA) registers as well as interviewing licensees and checking the adequacy of the venues’ CCTV coverage,” Mr Souris said.

    “I am advised that inquiries have revealed substantial variations in the levels of incident reporting and CCTV coverage between venues. In terms of incident reporting, comparisons will need to be made with official incident data and reports held by police and BOCSAR before it can be determined whether there has been any under-reporting of incidents”.

    Mr Souris said the analysis of information collected, including data comparisons with police and BOCSAR records and the development of individual venue profiles is a substantial effort
    that will be done as quickly as possible, but will need to occur alongside OLGR’s other ongoing regulatory activities.

    “However, this will be a valuable exercise that will help provide a clear picture of venue peak trading nights, capacities, target demographics, CCTV coverage, incident reporting, responsible service of alcohol (RSA) register standards, security and alcohol management plans and any identified risks.

    “This will help identify any trends that may be occurring at individual venues as well as on a precinct-wide basis and help inform the adequacy of existing licence conditions and precinct
    controls.

    “If deficiencies are confirmed through this project we will have a proper evidence base from which to consider further regulatory measures at Kings Cross, including further possible licence conditions being imposed both on a precinct-wide basis and on individual licensed venues”.

    Mr Souris has congratulated OLGR on its efforts and has assured the community that authorities are working hard to ensure licensed venues are operating safely and responsibly
    across the State.

    OLGR carried out 1,557 audits of licensed venues across NSW last financial year, detecting 3,031 breaches of liquor, gaming and registered club laws, resulting in the issuing of 2,619 compliance notices, 379 penalty notices and 33 court prosecutions.

    “Both OLGR and NSW Police will be jointly conducting many more overt and covert operations

    at Kings Cross and other high risk locations in NSW to enforce the liquor laws,” Mr Souris said.

     

    Circle Sentencing celebrates 10th Birthday

    Issued: Wednesday, 11 July 2012
    [PDF, 183kb]


    The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today paid tribute to the Aboriginal Elders involved in Circle Sentencing as the pioneers of the ground-breaking program celebrated its 10th anniversary. 

    "The Aboriginal Elders who have volunteered their time to Circle Sentencing have helped hundreds of offenders address the causes of their behaviour and get their lives back on track," Mr Smith said.

    A ceremony was held today in Nowra - the birthplace of Circle Sentencing - to recognise the contributions of Elders involved in the program, with Chief Magistrate Graeme Henson attending.

    "The Elders have shown how Aboriginal communities can work with the justice system on common goals of reducing re-offending and helping victims of crime in their recovery," Mr Smith said.

    Almost 800 Circle Sentence sittings have been held for adult Aboriginal offenders since the program began in 2002.  The alternative sentencing process, which is conducted in a community setting, enables Elders and victims of crime to speak directly to the offender about the impact of their behaviour.

    "Offenders often find Circle Sentencing more confronting than a conventional court because there is nowhere to hide and they must face up to the consequences of their actions," said Nowra Circle Sentencing project officer Gail Wallace.

    "The Circle tailors a sentence to the offender that not only fits the crime but will also help them to address issues such as anger management and drug and alcohol dependency."

    The Member for South Coast, Shelley Hancock, said the program had become an important feature of the justice system.

    "Circle Sentencing started in Nowra and a measure of its success is that it is now

    operating across NSW,'' Ms Hancock said.  

    "There's no doubt Circle Sentencing is changing people's lives for the better, with many participants now earning an honest living and reconnecting with their families.''

    Mr Smith praised the Elders involved in Circle Sentencing for their long-term commitment to helping offenders. 

    "The Elders don't forget about offenders when the Circle Sentence finishes- they monitor their progress in the community and provide invaluable support and advice," Mr Smith said.

    Mr Smith also acknowledged the contributions of other participants in Circle Sentencing, including magistrates, police prosecutors and project officers. The program operates at 11 locations; Armidale, Brewarrina, Blacktown, Bourke, Dubbo, Kempsey, Lismore, Moree, Mount Druitt, Nowra and Walgett.

    Meeting on Grafton jail

    Issued: Friday, 6 July 2012
    [PDF, 108kb]


    Acting NSW Premier Andrew Stoner and Attorney General Greg Smith SC met a delegation of Grafton community and union representatives in Sydney this afternoon in the wake of last week's announcement to downsize Grafton Correctional Centre.

    Mr Smith said the Government had an obligation to taxpayers across the State to run the prison system efficiently and that Grafton had reached its use-by date, with millions of dollars in maintenance required every year.

    Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis led a delegation that included Clarence Valley Mayor Richie Williamson, Chamber of Commerce President Jeremy Challacombe and three union officers, but Mr Smith told them the decision would not be put on hold.

    Mr Smith, who is also Minister for Justice, explained that Grafton Correctional Centre's cost per inmate was $173 against $98 for the new centre at Cessnock – where many of the prisoners will be relocated.

    "I acknowledge the upheaval this will cause in Grafton and that's why we had the meeting today,'' Mr Smith said. "I feel most sympathy for the families of prison officers who will be devastated by this decision.

    "However, Cessnock is a recently upgraded facility with better safety measures in place for both prisoners and correctional officers. We started moving prisoners into more modern jails last year and this is part of that process.''

    Mr Smith said he had accepted the advice of Corrective Services to downsize the jail but said officers who do not want to move to other centres would be offered voluntary redundancies.

    Earlier today, Mr Stoner announced that the NSW Government would develop a Northern Rivers Jobs Plan to help businesses in the region create new jobs, and invited local businesses to apply for grants under the scheme.

    The NSW Government has grown public sector jobs in the region since coming to power, with an extra 164 nurses in the Local Health District, 32 Department of Education and Communities staff in the Clarence, and 24 new probationary police officers in the Local Area Command.

    New Commissioner of Corrective Services

    Issued: Tuesday, 26 June 2012
    [PDF, 248kb]


    The NSW Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Greg Smith SC, today announced the appointment of Peter Severin as the new Commissioner of Corrective Services NSW. 

    "I am delighted that Mr Severin has agreed to become the new Commissioner in NSW, after having served South Australia and Queensland with distinction," Mr Smith said. 

    Mr Severin is currently the Chief Executive of the South Australian Department for Correctional Services and was previously the Deputy Director General of the Queensland Department of Corrective Services. 

    As the Chief Executive of the South Australian Department for Correctional Services, Mr Severin has achieved the lowest return to prison rate of any Australian jurisdiction for the last four years.  

    "Mr Severin's record of success demonstrates that he is the ideal person to address the high rate of reoffending in NSW," Mr Smith said.     

    Mr Severin said he was excited about his new role and determined to set high standards for Corrective Services NSW. 

    "I intend to use the skills and experience I have acquired in other jurisdictions to advise the Minister regarding best practice policies," Mr Severin said.  

    The Minister for Justice thanked the previous Commissioner, Ron Woodham, who has retired after 43 years of service to NSW. 


    $75,000 Facelift for Picton Court

    Issued: Monday, 25 June 2012 
    [PDF, 86kb]


    The heritage-listed Picton Courthouse is receiving a $75,000 makeover, the NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, announced today.

    "Picton Courthouse is one of the oldest justice buildings in NSW to still be functioning and significant repairs are necessary to ensure that it can continue to operate," Mr Smith said.

    The first stage of the refurbishment has been completed, with painting and crack repairs carried out in the courtroom and staff amenities area.

    The courthouse will be closed from 2nd to 6th July 2012, while major structural cracks are repaired in the registry and magistrate's chambers.  Both sections will also be repainted.   

    "Picton's caseload will be redirected to Moss Vale Courthouse during the short period of closure," Mr Smith said.

    All repairs will be completed before the next Local Court sitting at Picton on 23 July 2012.


    The Victorian-style Picton Courthouse opened in 1865, after being built at a cost of £1500.  It was among 130 courts designed by the Colonial Architect James Barnet.  The court's stone foundations came from the old Picton jail, which was demolished in 1863 after it was flooded in 1860.

    "The Picton Courthouse has a rich history and the NSW Government is ensuring that it also has a future," Mr Smith said.

    Around 650 cases are lodged in Picton Courthouse each year.

    Funding boost for NSW gambling counselling services

    Friday 22 June, 2012     [PDF, 107kb]

    Minister for Hospitality and Racing, George Souris, today welcomed funding increases for each of the State’s 46 problem gambling counselling and support services.

    Mr Souris said the Gambling Help services operate at more than 200 locations across the State providing free, confidential and effective counselling and support to problem gamblers and their families.

    "These services offer high quality face-to-face services ranging from gambling counselling, financial counselling, and support for specific groups such as culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, youth and women," Mr Souris said.

    "As announced in the recent State Budget, the NSW Government is providing a record $10.6 million in funding in 2012/13 for our network of problem gambling counselling and support services.

    "These counselling services operate on the frontline in often difficult circumstances and this extra funding will help ensure that they continue to receive the support they need to provide a very important community service.

    "These welcome increases in funding will help these services meet rising operational costs and can continue providing invaluable support to communities across metropolitan, regional and rural NSW."

    Mr Souris said NSW's problem gambling counselling services provided a total of 19,819 counselling sessions to 4,237 clients in 2010/11.

    "These services included a state wide Multicultural Problem Gambling Service plus five culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD)-specific counselling services for the Chinese, Arabic, Vietnamese, Greek and Italian speaking communities which provided a total of 2,511 counselling sessions to 543 clients," Mr Souris said.

    "As well as counselling services there is a state wide training service, provided by the Centre for the Community Welfare Training, which provides a range of problem gambling counselling related training courses to Gambling Help counsellors across NSW, provides financial assistance to enable regional and rural counsellors to attend relevant training courses if they are not available in their area and conducts the annual NSW Problem Gambling Counsellors’ Conference.

    "There is also a state wide legal service, provided by Wesley Community Legal Service, which provides free legal advice and representation to problem gamblers and their families across NSW, and free legal advice and training to Responsible Gambling Fund-supported counselling services."

    Mr Souris said as well as face-to-face counselling services, the Government’s Responsible Gambling Fund also supports the 24-hour Gambling Help (1800 858 858) line which assisted 6,700 callers in 2010/11 including problem gamblers or family members.

    Further assistance was also offered through the national Gambling Help Online

    service which provided 1,491 live online counselling sessions in 2010/11, including 586 in NSW, as well as further information support via email interactions.

    For further information on problem gambling support services visit

    www.gamblinghelp.nsw.gov.au or phone 1800 858 858.

    Sydney liquor licence freeze extended

    Wednesday 20 June, 2012   [PDF,170kb]

    A freeze on new liquor licences and related development applications in entertainment precincts in the City of Sydney will be extended for another six months, Minister for Hospitality, George Souris, announced today.

    Mr Souris said the extension of the freeze in Darlinghurst, Kings Cross and the southern Sydney CDB until the end of the year to allow a density study to be completed, means certain new liquor licences will not be issued during that period.

    "The liquor freeze on new licences, which applies to Kings Cross, Darlinghurst and Sydney City’s south, is one of a range of measures designed to combat alcohol-related anti-social behaviour and violence in Sydney’s entertainment areas," Mr Souris said.

    The liquor freeze was introduced by the previous Government in 2008 and has already been extended twice.

    The freeze restricts the expansion of trading hours and patron capacity for some existing licensed premises as well as prohibiting new hotel, club, nightclub, producer/wholesaler and packaged liquor licences.

    "The Liberals and Nationals Government is committed to introducing new measures to reduce the negative impact of alcohol on local communities, including through initiatives such as strengthening ‘Move On Powers’, introducing the new offence of ‘Intoxicated and Disorderly’, and the ‘Three Strikes’ disciplinary scheme.

    "The Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) last year commissioned research into the relationship between liquor licence density and alcohol-related issues and will help inform future policy making. This study is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

    "The Government will also consider other measures that can be implemented to further strengthen the regulation of licensed venues that allow alcohol-related violence and anti-social behaviour.

    Mr Souris said the NSW Government would not tolerate irresponsible licensed venue operators and excessive consumption of alcohol or the unacceptable impacts it has on local communities

    "The Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) cannot approve a new liquor licence unless it is satisfied that the overall social impact of the licence will not be detrimental to the well-being of the local or broader community," Mr Souris said.

    "ILGA takes into account a range of matters when assessing a liquor licence application, including the proposed trading hours, proximity to hospitals, schools, churches and parks, issues raised during the public consultation process, density of licensed venues in the immediate area, and local demographics and alcohol-related crime statistics.

    "Local councils also have to approve any development applications for new licensed venues."


    NSW Government helps retailers combat shoplifting

    Issued: Tuesday, 19 June 2012
    [PDF,  94kb]


    The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today announced a new program that shows retailers how they can prevent shoplifting and other crimes without spending a cent.

    "The NSW Government and the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) have created innovative online training resources that will help retailers make their stores more resistant to crimes that affect their bottom line," Mr Smith said.

    The Preventing Retail Loss and Financial Risk program is an online training module that demonstrates how the design of a store can affect whether it is targeted by shoplifters.

    "Retailers can reduce shoplifting and increase detection of the crime by following the training module's guidelines on store layout, which include advice on arranging shelves and the placement of products," Mr Smith said. 

    "The guidelines will cost little or nothing to implement, but could save retailers thousands of dollars."

    ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said: "loss prevention should be at the forefront of retailer's minds but we know retailers are very busy people often on the shop floor as well as running back of house operations. 

    "The flexibility offered by the online, self-paced learning means in a little as 30 minutes retailers can have practical skills to put into place on the shop floor that will help to minimise the impact and financial risk theft poses to retailers across NSW," Mr Zimmerman said.

    The first 500 NSW retailers to use the module will be granted free access, with the costs covered by the Department of Attorney General and Justice (DAGJ).

    "The module has been user tested on retailers and there is significant demand for the program," Mr Smith said.

    To complement the training module, DAGJ has worked with NSW Police to develop an online Retail Security Resource that provides information on preventing a broader range of crimes that affect retailers, including fraud, break and enter, robbery and vandalism.

    Commander of NSW Police Force's Operational Programs, Superintendent Helen Begg, says the Force is delighted to be working in partnership with the NSW Government and retailers for a safer retail environment.

    "Crimes against retailers are a major concern for police and, like most things, prevention is the best remedy."

    The NSW Government has made commitments through the State Plan 2021 to prevent and reduce crime while also improving the performance of the NSW economy.

    "The O'Farrell Government will achieve these goals not by being soft on crime, but by being smart on crime," Mr Smith said.

    The Preventing Retail Loss and Financial Risk training module is accessible via the websites: www.crimeprevention.nsw.gov.au and www.retail.org.au. The Retail Security Resource is available for free download at www.crimeprevention.nsw.gov.au

    According to the Global Retail Theft Barometer, retail theft cost the Australian economy more than $2 billion in 2011 - the equivalent of 1.43 per cent of the nation's retail sales.

     


    Bail report tabled

    Issued: Wednesday, 13 June 2012
    [PDF, 231kb]


    The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today tabled the NSW Law Reform Commission's report on the Bail Act.

    Mr Smith said the Government would now examine the 363-page report and respond to the recommendations by the end of the year.

    He said the current Bail Act was confusing and inconsistent after 19 significant changes since its introduction in 1978. 

    "The Government went to the election with a commitment to review the Bail Act and that is what we are doing,'' Mr Smith said.

    The report describes the NSW laws as "voluminous, unwieldy, hugely complex" and says "the results are frequently anomalous and unjust''.

    Mr Smith said the Government is committed to a Bail Act which is simple, consistent and protects the community. 

    He said the Government favoured a "risk management" approach for bail determinations. Such an approach takes into account risk factors such as a person committing another offence, endangering the public or interfering with witnesses. 

    The Attorney General thanked the Law Reform Commission for its report, which was led by retired judges Hal Sperling and James Wood.  

    "The Bail Act is so complex it is little wonder we regularly get decisions that are inconsistent and confuse the public,'' Mr Smith said.

    "Most people have, at times, been left perplexed or even angry at bail decisions which have seemed inconsistent.

    "What we need is clarity in our bail laws to deliver the consistency the community demands and provides protection to the public from violent crime."

    For the report go to www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/lrc.


    More courts and rehabilitation programs for NSW

    Issued: Tuesday, 12 June 2012
    [PDF, 415kb]


    The NSW Liberals & Nationals Government will build new courts, expand prisoner rehabilitation programs and step up the fight against graffiti, the NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, announced today.

    Mr Smith said the 2012-13 Budget provided almost $34 million for the construction of new courthouses, including:

    • $16 million towards the construction of the $94 million Newcastle Justice Precinct;

    • $11 million towards the development of a $54 million justice precinct at Coffs Harbour; and;

    • $6.9 million for the completion of the new Armidale Courthouse.

    The Budget also includes $32 million for the renovation and expansion of courthouses at 40 locations including Wagga Wagga, Wollongong, Liverpool, Manly and at the Downing Centre in Sydney's CBD. The funding will also enable the State Coroner's Court in Glebe to relocate to the court complex at 50 Phillip St in Sydney's CBD.

    "While the Coroner's Court will still be able to utilise courtrooms at its old headquarters in Glebe, it will soon have a new registry in the city and will conduct inquests at the Phillip Street complex," Mr Smith said. 

    Mr Smith said $4.2 million would be invested in innovative programs to reduce reoffending and rehabilitate inmates, including $2 million for the new Intensive Drug and Alcohol Treatment program and $1 million for Intensive Learning Centres.

    "Studies have consistently shown that a high proportion of prisoners are poorly educated and commit offences while under the influence of alcohol and drugs - often to support an addiction," Mr Smith said. 

    "The Drug and Alcohol Treatment program will help up to 300 inmates at John Morony Correctional Complex overcome their addiction, while the Intensive Learning Centres will help prisoners develop job skills."

    An Intensive Learning Centre is to be established at the South Coast Correctional Centre with pilot programs to be introduced at the Lithgow and Mid North Coast Correctional Centres.

    There is $24 million allocated for the completion of the redevelopments of Cobham and Riverina Juvenile Justice Centres.

    The Budget also provides for the appointment of an Inspector of Custodial Services to deliver oversight of adult and juvenile custodial services.

    There is $1 million for programs to clean up and prevent graffiti, particularly in communities that have been repeatedly targeted by vandals.

    "Government funding will help local councils modify the environmental design of hotspot areas to make them more resistant to graffiti," Mr Smith said.

    "In addition, the Government is helping community groups set up volunteer graffiti removal squads and is continuing to support the Graffiti Hotline (free call 1800 707 125), which enables anyone in NSW to report graffiti as soon as they see it."

    Mr Smith said the Government would also make the administration of justice more efficient and effective. 

    "More than $4 million will be spent over two years on a new system to manage arrangements for people being enrolled and called for jury service, while $2 million has been allocated for the next phase of the Joined Up Justice project, which will improve the exchange of electronic information between the courts and the NSW Police Force," Mr Smith said.


    DA submitted for $73 Coffs Harbour Justice Precinct

    Issued: Friday, 1 June 2012
    [PDF, 159kb]


    A development application for the $73 million Coffs Harbour Justice Precinct has been submitted to council, NSW Attorney General Greg Smith SC, Police Minister Mike Gallacher, and Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser announced today.

    Mr Fraser said the Justice Precinct, to be located on the corner of Beryl Street and the Pacific Highway, would be a significant complex for Coffs Harbour.

    "When people travel through the Coffs Harbour CBD they will see modern and sophisticated justice buildings that befit a major regional centre experiencing significant population growth," Mr Fraser said. 

    Mr Smith acknowledged that Coffs Harbour had been calling for a new courthouse and police station for many years. "The wait is almost over," he said.

    Mr Gallacher also welcomed the progress.

    "The submission of the development application is the project's most important milestone to date, with the building designs giving the community an insight into the future of justice in this city," 

    Set over five levels, the new courthouse will be 50 per cent larger than the existing courthouse.  It will include two local courts, two district courts and a multipurpose room that could be utilised for tribunal hearings and mediations.

    "Featuring large LCD screens, the courts will be able to display exhibits in high definition, receive testimony from off-site witnesses and hear bail applications made from prisons," Mr Smith said.

    "Victims of sexual assault will be able to give evidence 'in camera' from a private room within the courthouse, which will spare them the trauma of coming face-to-face with their alleged attacker."

    Mr Smith said the courthouse would have an abundance of interview and conference rooms for the legal profession and support services.

    "Every participant in the court process will find the new facilities infinitely superior to what is on offer at the existing courthouse," Mr Smith said.

    The courthouse will be protected by airport-style perimeter security and will share a cells complex with the new police station.

    Mr Gallacher said the new police station will ensure Coffs Harbour meets local operational needs now and into the future.


    "The new Local Area Command facility will have modern forensic, custodial and cell facilities that are required," Mr Gallacher said.


    Both buildings will be accessible to people with a disability and include environmentally friendly design features to minimise energy and water use.


    The justice precinct will also include a kiosk, pathways to link the buildings and extensive landscaping.  

    Mr Fraser said the facilities were long overdue.

    "I have been waiting for this project to commence for over 16 years,'' he said.  

    "The last time it was mooted was when the Coalition was last in Government, so it's nice to have a Government that is getting on with the job. 

    "This new complex will alleviate the cramped and outdated conditions of the current Police Station and Court House and will ease the stressful working condition that the staff currently working under.''

     

    NSW efforts to promote responsible drinking on track  

    Monday 28 May, 2012   [PDF, 83kb]

    Minister for Hospitality, George Souris, welcomed a comprehensive report released today confirming the NSW Government's crackdown on problem liquor operators is working with irresponsible service and consumption of alcohol on licensed premises in decline.

    Mr Souris said the report by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) shows NSW licensed premises are becoming more responsible in serving alcohol and young people less likely to abuse alcohol on licensed premises.

    BOSCAR commissioned a survey of more than 2,500 young adults to assess responsible service of alcohol experiences.

    "The NSW Government has made it clear it will not tolerate irresponsible service and consumption of alcohol and the associated community impacts," Mr Souris said.

    "It is encouraging to see BOCSAR's survey results which found lower rates of excessive and frequent acute risk drinking by young people in licensed venues than in 2006.

    "I also welcome BOCSAR's findings showing lower rates of young people exhibiting signs of intoxication and higher rates of them being more effectively targeted by responsible service of alcohol RSA) measures in licensed venues.

    "Licensed venues were found to be more stringent with RSA practices in dealing with intoxicated patrons, with higher proportions being refused alcohol or asked to leave, while also putting in place measures to prevent intoxication such as encouraging patrons to consume low-alcohol or non-alcoholic drinks and food.

    "Congratulations to those responsible venues, their staff and patrons as well as authorities who have contributed to this positive result."

    Although Mr Souris was pleased with the comments by the Director of the Bureau, Dr Don Weatherburn who said that the report showed the Government crackdown on irresponsible service of alcohol was working and that irresponsible service and consumption of alcohol on licensed premises was in decline, he also agreed with Dr Weatherburn that there is still a long way to go.

    "Our Three Strikes disciplinary scheme imposes the toughest ever sanctions on irresponsible pubs, clubs, liquor stores and nightclubs that continually put the safety of patrons and the broader community at risk.

    "Licensees who wilfully or knowingly commit serious offences are on notice that they face the ultimate sanction – loss of their liquor licence – if continually found wanting.

    "The scheme provides enormous incentive for licensees to improve alcohol and security management and implement effective measures to prevent intoxication, underage drinking, violence and use of illicit drugs on their premises while NSW’s violent venues list names and shames venues that commit liquor law breaches.

    "The NSW Government has also introduced the offence of Intoxicated and Disorderly and strengthened police move on powers to target individuals who drink to excess and participate in offensive and violent behaviour in public places.

    "The Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) Liquor Accord Delivery Unit continues to support the State’s 149 liquor accords which implement a range of practical solutions to local alcohol problems including the promotion of responsible service and consumption of alcohol.

    "NSW was also the first State to introduce a photo card to authenticate mandatory RSA training for bar workers in licensed venues. The Government is continuing to implement further measures to strengthen the training scheme including refresher training for all RSA certificate holders and an online training course to be launched later this year.

    "OLGR and NSW Police also continue to work together to raise compliance standards across all licensed venues and enforce the liquor laws to improve patron and community safety.

    "The NSW Government will continue to target irresponsible licensees and patrons and reduce alcohol-related violence and anti-social behaviour." 

    Magistrate appointed to District Court

    Issued: Thursday, 24 May 2012 
    [PDF, 127kb]


    The Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today announced the appointment of Magistrate Gordon Lerve as a judge of the District Court of NSW.

    "Magistrate Lerve has excelled as an Acting Judge of the District Court over the past eight months and I am pleased that his appointment has been made permanent," Mr Smith said.

    Prior to joining the District Court, Magistrate Lerve served on the bench of the Local Court for six years. He mostly presided over courts in rural and regional areas, including Albury and Moree.

    In a legal career spanning more than 30 years, Magistrate Lerve also:

    • served as a Crown Prosecutor for 15 years, appearing in hundreds of criminal trials, including murder trials in the Supreme Court;

    • worked as a barrister in private practice for four years; and

    • was a Senior Legal Officer at the National Crime Authority for one year.

    Magistrate Lerve has been involved in legal education with the Legal Practitioner's Admission Board Course.  He has also been a member of the Chief Magistrate's Education Committee and has written a number of research papers that are used in judicial education.

    Outside of the courtroom, Magistrate Lerve has been a member of the Royal Australian Air Force Specialist Reserve for 21 years and has attained the rank of Wing Commander.

    Magistrate Lerve will be sworn in as a District Court judge on 31 May 2012.

    Rotary to run Graffiti Removal Day

    Issued: Wednesday, 16 May 2012
    [PDF, 109kb]


    The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today announced that Rotary Down Under would take the lead role in organising Graffiti Removal Day for 2012.


    "Rotary is one of the world's most respected organisations and has been at the forefront of community-based campaigns in NSW to combat graffiti," Mr Smith said.

    Graffiti Removal Day 2012 will encourage local councils and community members to nominate sites that have been vandalised with spray paint.  

    "The Government can't win the war against graffiti on its own. We need people all across the state to be involved," Mr Smith said

    "Graffiti Removal Day will enable exasperated communities to restore civic pride by taking a united stand against vandals."

    Rotary will harness the power of social media to maximise the impact of Graffiti Removal Day.

    "Community members will be able to nominate graffiti hotspots and volunteer for the clean-up via a Graffiti Removal Day website," Mr Smith said.

    "Rotary will also utilise Facebook to update the community on the event and encourage people to contribute their ideas on tackling the scourge of graffiti."

    Rotary Down Under Executive Director, Bob Aitken AM, said the organisation was delighted to be involved in Graffiti Removal Day.

    "Rotarians are passionate about combating graffiti, which is why we have been working with the NSW Government on setting up volunteer graffiti removal squads around the state," Mr Aitken said.

    "We are excited by the opportunity to lead a much larger grass-roots campaign against graffiti and we encourage all members of the community to get involved."

    Mr Aitken said the campaign reflected Rotary's focus on serving the community.

    "Clubs across Australia already play a vital role every year in community events such as the Red Shield Appeal, and the promotion of mental health awareness."

    The Government's decision to award Rotary Down Under the contract for Graffiti Removal Day followed an open tender process.

    Mr Smith said the success of the NSW Government's new Graffiti Hotline demonstrated the importance of community involvement in combating graffiti. 

    "The hotline has received 582 calls since it was established in March, resulting in 482 graffiti reports being referred to councils and other government agencies for action," Mr Smith said.

    Mr Smith said the date for Graffiti Removal Day 2012 would be announced shortly.

    NSW Support services help t​ackle problem gambling

    Monday 14 May, 2012   [PDF,64kb]

    Minister for Hospitality and Racing, George Souris, is encouraging people battling a gambling problem to take advantage of the NSW Government’s network of free,
    effective and confidential counselling and support services.

    Speaking at the start of Responsible Gambling Awareness Week 2012 (14 – 20 May), Mr Souris said Gambling Help services provide high quality face to face, telephone

    and online counselling for problem gamblers and their families.

    He said help is available 24 hours a day by calling 1800 858 858 or visiting

    www.gamblinghelp.nsw.gov.au.

    The NSW Government also today launched a new DVD developed in six languages - Mandarin and Cantonese, Vietnamese, Arabic, Greek, and Italian - to help tackle problem gambling across multicultural communities.

    “Problem gambling can affect all parts of the community, regardless of cultural background. Responsible Gambling Awareness Week 2012 is a chance for people to reflect on why they gamble and the impact it may be having on their lives and loved ones,” Mr Souris said.

    “By openly discussing the issue of problem gambling, and promoting the free services that are available from the NSW Government, we’re hoping to help people with gambling problems take that important first step towards getting help.”

    Mr Souris said warning signs of a gambling problem include:

    • increasingly spending more time and money on gambling
    • repeatedly promising to stop gambling but not actually stopping
    • borrowing money to gamble or pay off gambling debts
    • losing time from work or study due to gambling
    • lying to cover up gambling activity
    • suffering from feelings of remorse or depression due to gambling
    • gambling ‘until the last dollar is gone’

    Mr Souris said the "What’s Gambling Really Costing You?" DVD aims to break through cultural barriers to address the issue.

    “This free DVD, also available online at www.youtube.com/gamblinghangover, includes interviews with counsellors, doctors and community leaders as well as information on free, confidential and culturally-sensitive counselling services,” Mr Souris said.

    “Importantly, it emphasises that there is no shame in seeking professional help for a gambling problem, which can be an issue in some multicultural communities.

    “The DVD is part of the NSW Government’s Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Problem Gambling Awareness Campaign.

    “In 2010, the NSW Government launched a problem gambling awareness campaign in Arabic, Chinese, Greek, Vietnamese and Italian as part of a $2.4 million, three-year early intervention and prevention strategy.”

    Mr Souris said the NSW Government’s Responsible Gambling Fund (RGF) was investing more than $11 million in its network of Gambling Help counselling and support services this financial year (2011/12).

    “This includes 44 face-to-face counselling services operating at more than 200 locations across the State, which in 2010/11 provided a total of 19,819 counselling sessions to 4,237 clients,” Mr Souris said.

    “We also have a 24-hour Gambling Help telephone counselling service which provided assistance to 6,700 callers in 2010/11 including problem gamblers or family members.

    “There is also online assistance available from the national Gambling Help Online service which provided 1,491 live online counselling sessions in 2010/11 including 586 in NSW as well as further information support via email interactions.”

    Details of counselling services and their locations can be found on the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing website at

    http://www.olgr.nsw.gov.au/gaming_rgf_counselling_support_services.asp


    DVD to educate jurors and help reduce mistrials

    Issued: Monday, 14 May 2012
    [PDF, 108kb]


    The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today opened law week and launched a DVD containing important information that will be shown to every person in the state attending court for jury service.

    Mr Smith said the DVD, titled 'Welcome to Jury Service', would explain the jury process and highlight the need for prospective jurors to inform the court if they have concerns about serving on a trial.

    "The Sheriff's Office estimates that two to three mistrials occur each month due to jurors being discharged,'' Mr Smith said.

    "This causes delays to the trial process and when jury trials cost around $8000 a day it also places a significant burden on taxpayers. 

    "It is frustrating that some mistrials are the result of jurors simply not declaring issues affecting their ability to serve until after the trial had started."

    Mr Smith said prospective jurors were given ample opportunity if they needed to be excused from a trial.

    "Unfortunately some people are reluctant to speak up because they are embarrassed or feel overwhelmed," Mr Smith said.

    "The DVD informs prospective jurors that they have the option of writing down the reason they wish to be excused if they are reluctant to announce it publicly.

    "The court will consider reasonable requests that could amount to "good cause" under the Jury Act 1977 for a prospective juror to be excused."

    The Chief Justice of NSW, Tom Bathurst QC, said the DVD was informative, accessible and inclusive.

    "The DVD achieves the dual objectives of emphasising the importance of the community's continued participation in the delivery of criminal justice in the 21st century and ensuring that eligible jurors have an appreciation of what serving on a jury involves," Chief Justice Bathurst said.

    Select this link to view the jury DVD: www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsPtMaLO1J0

     

    Law Week: Law and Justice in Your Community

    Issued: Monday, 14 May 2012

    Monday, 14 May marks the beginning of National Law Week 2012. 

    Themed 'Law and Justice in Your Community', Law Week is an annual event that aims to increase awareness of our system of law and justice, and to improve access to legal services within the community. 

    Law Week provides an opportunity for people who may not often come into contact with the legal system, or may not know about the range of services available to them, to meet government and non-government legal service providers at a wide range of free, public events. 

    Over 100 Law Week events are being held in NSW alone, in metropolitan, rural and regional areas, including:

    • Community Legal Information Days at Martin Place in Sydney (Monday, 14 May), in Parramatta (Tuesday, 15 May) and in Blacktown (Thursday, 17 May), where government and non-government organisations will provide free, face-to-face legal information on a range of topics.

    • The 'Walk for Justice' on National Pro Bono Day (Tuesday, 15 May), sponsored by the Public Interest Law Clearing House to raise awareness about the need for free, quality legal services in the community.

    • Talks and workshops in courts, libraries and other public venues throughout the state on topics including buying and selling a property, domestic violence, family law, cyber-bullying, strata living, making a will and Power of Attorney.

    • 'Mock trial'-style events for school students to help them understand more about the justice system in NSW.

      Find out more about Law Week​ events in your local area.


    Lawyers act out fairy tale at Wollongong Court

    Issued: Monday, 14 May 2012

    The only surviving member of the three little pigs will be desperate to save his bacon when he stands trial for the murder of the Big Bad Wolf at Wollongong Courthouse during Law Week.

    "The Trial of the Reasonably Intelligent Pig is a comical play that will demonstrate how the criminal justice system operates," said Kathy Frost, Senior Registrar at Wollongong Courthouse.

    "Performed by local lawyers, court staff and law students, the play will examine whether the pig was a callous killer or had acted in self defence when he took the life of the Big Bad Wolf. 

    "Members of the audience could find themselves on the jury that decides the pig's fate."  

    Ms Frost said The Trial of the Reasonably Intelligent Pig continues a Law Week tradition of using fairy tales to make the law more accessible to young people in the Illawarra region.

    "The fairy tale trials, held during Law Week since 2008, are based on fiction but they make clear the different steps involved in real life criminal hearings," Ms Frost said.

    During Law Week, the court will also host a hypothetical exercise that will explore the legal issues that arise when a group of young people drink, take drugs and participate in a fatal street race.  

    "The issues will be discussed by an expert panel that will include a Local Court magistrate, a barrister, media, and representatives of the NSW Police Force and the State Coroner's Court," said Ms Frost.

    Other Law Week events at Wollongong Courthouse include:

    • the official opening of Law Week on Monday, 14 May;

    • a tour of the courthouse cells;

    • presentations by the NSW Police Force Dog Squad and a Corrective Services K9 team; and,

    • information sessions with the NSW Police Youth Liaison Officer and Crash Investigation Unit, and the Ambulance Service of NSW.

    All Law Week events at Wollongong Courthouse are free and are open to all members of the public.

    The Illawarra will host a number of other events during Law Week, including talks at local libraries and a 'Wills Day' hosted by the NSW Trustee and Guardian to encourage people to make or update their will.

    A Sentencing Forum will also be held at City Beach Function Centre in Wollongong at 6pm on Wednesday, 9 May.  District Court Judge Paul Conlon and the President of the Wollongong & Illawarra District Law Society, Helen Volk, will host the forum, which is open to the public. The forum will focus on answering questions about sentencing and the criminal justice system.

    For further information about Law Week and what is happening in your area, visit: www.lawweek.com.au

    National Law Week runs from May 14 –20. The theme is Law and Justice in Your Community. Over 100 Law Week events are being held in NSW alone, in metropolitan, rural and regional areas. 


     

    Greater access to the Law in Tweed Heads

    Issued: Monday, 14 May 2012

    People with restricted mobility who have limited access to services will be among those to benefit from Law Week activities in the Tweed Heads region in May.

    During National Law Week, staff of Tweed Heads Local Court will visit a number of retirement villages, residential care facilities and the local hospital to sign Powers of Attorney and Enduring Guardianship forms for community members who can't easily make these arrangements themselves. 

    "Law Week provides a great opportunity to visit less mobile members of the community, to explain how Power of Attorney and Enduring Guardianship work and to help take some of the worry out of what can be quite stressful situations," said  Karryn Gavenlock, Registrar of Tweed Heads Local Court.

    "People who live in assisted care and patients in hospital can find it difficult to access important services because of their often restricted mobility," Ms Gavenlock said. 

    "Our Law Week events aim to alleviate that difficulty for members of the Tweed Heads community."

    Tweed Heads Local Court will visit two care facilities as well as hosting a signing session at the courthouse on Recreation Street on Wednesday 16 May between 10am and 12pm. 

    Members of the public will also be able to take a tour of the courthouse on Wednesday 16 May between 1.30pm and 2pm. Ms Gavenlock, a local duty solicitor and a police prosecutor will be available to answer questions during the tour.

    Other Law Week events in the Tweed Heads and North Coast areas include:

    • A 'Wills Day' hosted by the NSW Trustee & Guardian's Lismore branch, where people can make – or update – their will.

    • 'Legal Information at the Library' sessions hosted by the Richmond Tweed Regional Library, where Legal Studies students can learn how to use the library's Legal Information Access Centre resources.

    National Law Week is an annual event that aims to increase awareness of the law and improve access to legal services in the community.  National Law Week runs from May 14 –20. The theme of Law Week 2012 is Law and Justice in Your Community. 

    Over 100 Law Week events are being held in NSW alone, in metropolitan, rural and regional areas.

    For further information about Law Week and what is happening in your area, visit: www.lawweek.com.au.

     

    Community legal information day in Parramatta - Tuesday, 15 May

    Issued: Monday, 14 May 2012

    People in the Parramatta area will be able to access free legal information from a range of government and non-government organisations during National Law Week in May.

    The Department of Attorney General and Justice is hosting a free community legal information day in Parramatta's Church Street Mall on Tuesday, 15 May from 9am – 2pm.

     

    More than 30 legal service providers will have stalls at the free, public event, offering help on how to:

    • write a will;

    • arrange a free mediation session to resolve a neighbourhood dispute;

    • contact victim support services;

    • access free legal information and find your nearest lawyer;

    • access a range of other legal services including locating a Justice of the Peace;

    • source legal information at the local library;

    • access family law information; and,

    • obtain information for people who are having difficulty paying fines.

    "The legal information day is an opportunity for members of the community to find out about the legal information and services available in the Parramatta area," said Suzanne Jenner, Registrar of Parramatta Local Court. 

    This is the second community legal information day in Parramatta, following the successful event at Parramatta Local Court during Law Week 2011. 

    "We're looking forward to meeting more community members this year, with the event taking place in Church Street Mall," said Ms Jenner.

    The community legal information day is part of National Law Week, an annual event aimed at increasing awareness of the law and improving access to legal services within the community.

    National Law Week runs from May 14 –20. The theme of Law Week 2012 is Law and Justice in Your Community. 

    Over 100 Law Week events are being held in NSW alone, in metropolitan, rural and regional areas. Events include mock trial exercises for students; talks and open days in courthouses and libraries; and legal information days across Sydney.

    For further information about Law Week and what is happening in your area, visit: www.lawweek.com.au.


     

    Get to know the law in Blacktown - Thursday, 17 May

    Issued: Monday, 14 May 2012

    People in the Blacktown area will be able to access free legal information from a range of government and non-government organisations during National Law Week in May.

    The Department of Attorney General and Justice is hosting a free community legal information day in Blacktown's Civic Plaza on Thursday, 17 May from 9am – 2pm.

    More than 25 legal service providers will have stalls at the free, public event, offering help on how to:

    • write a will;

    • arrange a free mediation session to resolve a neighbourhood dispute;

    • contact victim support services;

    • access free legal information and find your nearest lawyer;

    • access a range of other legal services including locating a Justice of the Peace;

    • source legal information at the local library;

    • access family law information; and,

    • obtain information for people who are having difficulty paying fines.

    "The legal information day is an opportunity for members of the community to find out about the legal information and services that are available in the Blacktown area," said Garry Northcote, Registrar of Blacktown Local Court.

    "The Blacktown community is very diverse and this event is about making legal and justice services more accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds," said Mr Northcote.

    The inaugural Blacktown community legal information day is part of National Law Week, an annual event aimed at increasing awareness of the law and improving access to legal services within the community.

    National Law Week runs from May 14 –20. The theme of Law Week 2012 is Law and Justice in Your Community. 

    Over 100 Law Week events are being held in NSW alone, in metropolitan, rural and regional areas. Events include mock trial exercises for students; talks and open days in courthouses and libraries; and legal information days across Sydney.

    For further information about Law Week and what is happening in your area, visit: www.lawweek.com.au.

    High- security court sets new benchmark

    Issued: Sunday, 13 May 2012 
    [PDF, 123kb]


    The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, has welcomed the opening of one of the largest courtrooms in NSW, which will be capable of hosting high-security trials involving up to 14 defendants.

    Mr Smith inspected the $2.5 million courtroom at the Downing Centre complex in Sydney's CBD last week and declared it the best trial court in Australia.

    "This is the Rolls Royce of courtrooms - a 232 square metre monster that will be utilised for the longest, largest and most complex criminal trials in NSW," Mr Smith said.

    "The Sydney West Trial Courts, which hosted the recent terrorism and airport bikie brawl trials, set a benchmark for security and technology.

    "But this new court has raised the bar even further.''

    The new courtroom includes:

    • A 20-seat dock that can be opened or enclosed (the dock includes six seats for Corrective Services officers);

    • Two bar tables accommodating up to 36 legal practitioners;

    • A 66 square metre jury deliberation room; and

    • A 15 seat jury box (a regular trial has a 12-member jury but up to 15 jurors can be empanelled for long trials).

    Mr Smith said the jury box featured eight high-definition television screens.

    "Instead of passing photographs around and taking turns to scrutinise evidence, jurors will be able to watch video evidence and electronic exhibits more closely - and in a more timely fashion," Mr Smith said.

    An audio-visual link system will enable the court to hear bail applications made from prisons and witness testimony given from remote locations.

    Mr Smith said the court's technology would make the justice system more open and accessible. 

    "If the public gallery becomes full during high profile cases, the court will have the option of broadcasting its proceedings on screens outside the courtroom. 

    "And with the consent of the court, the media will also be able to stream proceedings such as the sentencing of an offender," Mr Smith said.


    Independent inspector to monitor prison standards

    Issued: Sunday, 13 May 2012
    [PDF, 108kb]


    An Inspector of Custodial Services will be appointed to monitor standards in correctional facilities across NSW, Attorney General and Minister for Justice Greg Smith SC announced today.

    The Inspector will have jurisdiction over all correctional facilities, including public and private sector prisons and juvenile justice centres, court custody centres, police cells managed by Corrective Services NSW, transitional centres, prisoner transport and support services. 

    The independent watchdog will be able to review correctional and juvenile justice facilities at any time and make recommendations about issues of concern.

    "The Inspector will be a champion for prisons and prison officers,'' Mr Smith said.

    "The new position will build public confidence in the justice system and ensure that correctional facilities are safe, secure and operate to a high standard. 

    "Prison officers will also be able to air their concerns without fear of being harassed or having their careers prejudiced as a result of assisting an Inspector.''

    The Inspector will be required to:

    • report on each juvenile justice facility at least once every three years;

    • report on each adult correctional facility at least once every five years;

    • conduct additional inspections at the request of a government minister; and

    • provide an annual report to Parliament and the Minister for Justice.

    "It will be an offence to give a false statement to an Inspector or to hinder their investigations and the law will protect whistle-blowers," Mr Smith said.

    The administration of the Official Visitors program will be transferred from Juvenile Justice NSW and Corrective Services NSW to the Inspector.  This will enhance the independence of the Official Visitors program.

    The Inspector will not deal with individual complaints made by prisoners, but may refer them to the Ombudsman.

    An Inspector will be appointed for a five-year term that can be extended for an additional five years. A joint parliamentary committee will monitor the functions of the Inspector and examine reports of the Office of the Inspector.

    "By appointing an Inspector of Custodial Services, the NSW Government is delivering on another of its election commitments," Mr Smith said.
     
    Mr Smith noted the success of Inspectors in other jurisdictions. 

    "There is an Inspector in Western Australia, where the office is held in high regard by the community and both sides of politics in that state. This has also been the case in foreign jurisdictions including England, Scotland and Wales.''
     
    The Government will advertise the position shortly and it is expected that the Inspector will commence before the end of the year. 

    Attorney General pardons bail out participants

    Issued: Saturday, 12 May 2012
    [PDF, 183kb]


    The NSW Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Greg Smith SC, has today pardoned 'inmates' who took part in the Whitelion Bail Out event at Yasmar Juvenile Detention Centre.

    Barristers, businessmen and an advertising executive are among 60 'inmates' who have paid at least $1,000 each to be locked up overnight in order to help young people stay out of jail.   

    The 'inmates' who arrived at the former detention centre on Friday for processing included: BMF director, Warren Brown; Maurice Byers barristers Philip Strickland SC, Ertunc Ozen and Nicholas Broadbent, as well as Lend Lease director David Tucker and General Manager NSW/ACT David Paterson.

    Mr Smith said he was a strong supporter of the event, which has made a real difference to young people's lives.

    "Whitelion works closely with Juvenile Justice staff to provide our young offenders in NSW with a job that will help them stay on the right track. 

    "The businesses who have signed up with Whitelion should be congratulated and I would encourage other businesses to lend their support to this worthy cause. 

    "Employment provides young offenders with structure, purpose, confidence and skills. 

    "Young offenders should be doing something productive and not destructive, and these initiatives help make that possible," Mr Smith said. 

    Whitelion is a national non-profit organisation which offers young people mentoring, education, training, jobs and connection to community.

     

    Response to report on asbestos compensation

    Issued: Friday, 11 May 2012
    [PDF, 115kb]

     
    The NSW Government has today announced its response to the Law Reform Commission's report on compensation to relatives. 

    The Attorney General, the Hon Greg Smith MP, said that the Government had reluctantly decided that it would not be appropriate to implement the Commission's recommendations.

    This followed legal and actuarial advice that indicated that to do so would have constituted a material breach of the Asbestos Injuries Compensation Fund (AICF) Funding Agreement.

    That Agreement was entered in 2006 into following negotiations between the NSW Government, unions, victims' representatives and James Hardie. It includes a provision under which the NSW Government promised that it would not legislate to increase or decrease damages for dust diseases.

    The AICF Funding Agreement is the key mechanism by which Australian asbestos victims continue to have access to around $1.5 billion in compensation funding from James Hardie. The Agreement will run for at least another thirty years.

    "The Government appreciates and regrets that this response will disappoint some asbestos victims and their families," Mr Smith said.

    "However, we hope that they will understand why the Government needs to consider the importance long-term of providing certainty of continued compensation to all asbestos victims, both current and future generations." 

    For the Government's response, including the legal and actuarial advice, go to:

    http://www.dpc.nsw.gov.au/about/accessing_dpc_information/dpc_disclosure_log


    Leading Criminal Lawyer Appointed Judge

    Issued: Thursday, 10 May 2012
    [PDF, 115kb]


    The Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today announced the appointment of a Deputy Senior Public Defender, Richard Button SC, as a judge of the Supreme Court of NSW.

    "Mr Button is a leading practitioner of criminal law in NSW who has appeared in many significant jury trials, sentencing hearings and appeals against convictions and sentences," Mr Smith said.

    Mr Button was admitted as a solicitor in 1984 and was called to the Bar in 1989. After two years in private practice, Mr Button was appointed a Public Defender and has retained that appointment until now.

    From 1996 until 1998, he was seconded as Director of the Criminal Law Review Division of the NSW Attorney General's Department, where he was involved in state and federal law reform.

    Mr Button was appointed Senior Counsel in 2005 and was appointed one of two Deputy Senior Public Defenders in 2010.

    This came after he led a defence team in the Supreme Court terrorism trial at Parramatta in 2008 and 2009.

    During his 28-year legal career, Mr Button has sat on many law committees, including the Bar Association Criminal Law Committee. He represented the Senior Public Defender on the NSW Government's DNA Review Panel.

    Mr Button will be sworn in as a judge of the Supreme Court on 12 June 2012.

    NSW Government welcomes Crump ruling in High Court

    Issued: Friday, 4 May 2012
    [PDF, 172kb]
     
    The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, has welcomed the High Court decision today which will help keep convicted murderer Kevin Crump behind bars for the rest of his life.

    In a unanimous 7-0 decision, the Court dismissed a challenge to 2001 legislation which was designed to keep Crump and other convicted murderers in jail until they die.

    The Court upheld the State law which means Crump can only be released on parole if he is in imminent danger of death or so incapacitated that he lacks the physical capacity to harm another.

    In 1974, Crump and his co-accused Allan Baker were convicted of conspiring to murder Virginia Morse and sentenced to life imprisonment, with the judge declining to fix a non-parole period and saying they should spend the rest of their lives in jail. They were charged with conspiracy under NSW law, because the murder actually took place in Queensland.

    Baker was also convicted of the murder of Ian Lamb during a robbery, and Crump of being an accessory to the murder of Lamb.

    In his judgement, Chief Justice Robert French said "the killings were callous, and in the case of Mrs Morse, preceded by pitiless and degrading abuse''.

    "Kevin Crump is one of the worst killers ever seen in NSW,'' Mr Smith said.

    "What he and Baker did to that young woman should not be forgotten.

    "Crump is no better than a vicious animal and when he committed those crimes he forfeited his right to be part of society.

    "I hope he spends the rest of his days reflecting on the misery he has inflicted on the Morse family.''

    After the 1974 verdict, the law was changed to allow courts to fix a minimum term before someone was eligible for parole. Crump made an unsuccessful application to the Supreme Court in 1992, but in 1997 the Court imposed a minimum term which meant that he would be eligible for consideration for parole after 2003. 

    Section 154A of the Crimes Act was then enacted in 2001 and it meant Crump and others would not be eligible to be released on parole unless certain conditions were fulfilled. It was this section which Crump challenged in the High Court.

    However, the High Court found the 1997 Supreme Court ruling had not created any right or entitlement for the plaintiff to be released on parole and that the legislation did not interfere with an order of the court.

    The High Court said "the practical reality which faces a sentencing judge is the prospect of legislative and administrative change in parole systems from time to time".

    "Neither the substance nor the form of the 1997 Supreme Court determination had created any right or entitlement for the plaintiff to be released on parole,'' the Court said. "Section 154A was therefore not invalid."

    Bike colours ban in Kings Cross Starts today

    27 April 2012    [PDF, 169kb]

    Minister for Police and Emergency Services Michael Gallacher and Minister for Hospitality, George Souris have welcomed the ban on bikies wearing gang colours in all late trading licensed venues in Kings Cross which comes into force today (April 27).

    Mr Gallacher said the initiative is part of a NSW Government crackdown on recent incidents of shootings and violence perpetrated by Outlaw Motor Cycle Gang (OMCG) and Outlaw Crime Gang (OCG) members.

    The Director General of NSW Trade & Investment, whose department oversees the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing, imposed the ‘no bikie colours’ measure on 58 pubs, clubs and restaurants following a submission by police under the liquor laws.

    Minister Souris said the NSW Government is determined to assist licensees and their staff to prevent illegal and undesirable behaviour at Kings Cross venues.

    "This ban on bikie colours gives licensees legal force to refuse entry to gang members seeking to take over their venue and intimidate staff and patrons trying to have a peaceful night.

    "From 5am today any person wearing any clothing, jewellery or accessory with a link to 23 OMCGs and OCGs, including their name, colours, club patch, insignia or logo or the ‘1%’ or ‘1%er’ symbol, is prohibited from entering or remaining on these premises.

    "This initiative will help protect the public safety, good order and amenity of the Kings Cross precinct.

    "It will also significantly reduce the risk of licensees, their staff and patrons being subjected to violence, intimidation or threats from gang members. The Director General’s decision reflects the preparedness of the overwhelming majority of licensees to stamp out this problem and willingly accept the imposition of licence conditions.

    "The ban on bikies wearing colours has been introduced under the terms of the Kings Cross Precinct Liquor Accord. All late trading licensed venues in Kings Cross must comply with the accord terms including this measure as a condition of their liquor licence.

    Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Michael Gallacher said that licensees can be assured they will have the full co-operation and support of police in implementing and enforcing this measure to reduce the presence and influence of gang members.

    "Police have committed to providing an increased physical presence in and around licensed premises in Kings Cross as a highly visible deterrent to support the implementation of the ban including immediate assistance to licensees and security staff if required.

    "The NSW Government will continue to support police and licensees in targeting violent, intimidating and threatening behaviour in our entertainment precincts to ensure they are safe and enjoyable for everybody.

    Mr Gallacher said that the Government is committed to backing police officers and ensuring they have the ability to address the problems that exist on our streets, particularly in areas like The Cross.

    "Police are working around the clock to tackle gun related violence, and we continue our call for the Federal Government to address the issue of border security and the illegal importation of guns that continue to arrive on our streets.

    "Operation Spartan has made great results and since January have made more than 300 arrests and laid more than 500 charges," Minister Gallacher concluded.


     

    Privacy Awareness Week starts on Sunday, 29 April

    Issued: Friday, 27 April 2012

    Privacy Awareness Week (PAW) begins this Sunday, running from 29 April to 4 May, and is all about promoting awareness about privacy rights and responsibilities in the community. This year the focus is on the privacy rights of young people. 

    PAW is an initiative of Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities (APPA) of which the Information and Privacy Commission (IPC) is a member. 

    These days young people are Internet-savvy and confident users of social media, but do they know about how to protect their privacy online and their privacy rights? There's lots of information out there about protecting privacy, but sometimes it's hard for students, parents and teachers to find what they need, when they need it. 

    APPA members have created this list of useful resources for young people from across the Asia Pacific region to help them find the information product that meets their needs. From games to quizzes, factsheets and animations, you're sure to find a product you can use to remind the young people in your life that they have privacy rights and why it pays to use them. 

    NSW Attorney General and Minister for Justice, the Hon. Greg Smith MP, and NSW Privacy Commissioner, Dr Elizabeth Coombs, will be officially launching this year's PAW on Friday 27 April 2012.

    Find out more about Privacy Awareness Week on the Information and Privacy Commission website at www.ipc.nsw.gov.au.



    Law Reform review of sentencing

    Issued: Tuesday, 24 April 2012

    The Law Reform Commission has released the first group of a series of question papers seeking stakeholder views on sentencing. Question Papers 1-4 address some of the fundamental issues, including the purposes of sentencing, common law sentencing principles, the factors that a court must take into account on sentence and other discounting factors. The closing date for submissions on Question Papers 1 to 4 is 4 June 2012.

    Busy construction period for NSW Courts

    Issued: Wednesday, 18 April 2012
    [PDF, 113kb]


    Hard hats will replace horse hair wigs as the head piece of choice at many courts around NSW, with the NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today announcing details of more than a dozen construction projects.

    "This is an exciting time for the NSW justice system, with major new court complexes to be built in Newcastle, Coffs Harbour and Armidale, while many existing courthouses are expanding or being refurbished," Mr Smith said.

    The Development Application for the $94 million Newcastle Courthouse project has been submitted to council and the site is being prepared for construction.  The seven-storey building will accommodate 10 courtrooms, two tribunal rooms and a host of facilities for the legal profession, victims of crime and justice agencies.

    A Development Application will be submitted this month for the construction of a $40 million courthouse at Coffs Harbour, which will be built alongside a new police station.  The courthouse will include four courtrooms, facilities for the legal profession, victims of crime and for alternative dispute resolution.  

    The construction of a three-storey courthouse in Armidale is underway.  The building, which will cost $15 million to construct, will include a large trial court capable of accommodating up to 15 jurors and a Local Court with a fully glazed secure dock for prisoners.  

    In Sydney, the Liverpool Courthouse is undergoing a $6.5 million expansion, with the NSW Government increasing the scope of the project to include the construction of an additional courtroom.

    "The fifth courtroom at Liverpool will be necessary to meet the needs of a rapidly growing area in south western Sydney," Mr Smith said.

    "The expansion, to be completed in early 2013, will also include improvements to security and better facilities for people with a disability."

    Other major construction projects include:

    • ongoing refurbishment of the Supreme Court at Queens Square in Sydney's CBD (due for completion in mid 2013)

    • a $1.6 million refurbishment of alternative dispute resolution suites at the King St Courts in Sydney's CBD (due for completion in September 2012);

    • the completion of a $5.5 million expansion of Taree Courthouse;

    • the completion of a $1.6 million project to refurbish and expand Waverley Courthouse;

    • a new $2.5 million high security courtroom at the Downing Centre to accommodate trials involving multiple defendants (to be completed this month):

    • a $1 million upgrade of facilities at Port Macquarie Courthouse (to be completed by 30 June 2012) with further work planned next financial year;

    • a $400,000 upgrade of Queanbeyan Courthouse (additional funds will be allocated to repair damage caused by recent flooding) and

    • a $300,000 refurbishment of Milton Courthouse (to be completed in May); 

     Mr Smith said many of Australia's best performing courts operate in NSW and the new facilities will help to improve the efficiency of this state's justice system.

    "The construction projects will also generate a significant number of jobs and stimulate the economy," Mr Smith said.


    New judge welcomed to the Supreme Court

    Tuesday, 17 April 2012
    [PDF, 100kb]


    The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today announced the appointment of Stephen Campbell SC, as a judge of the Supreme Court of NSW.

    "Mr Campbell is an experienced senior counsel who has a strong background in personal injuries law and insurance law," Mr Smith said.

    "This extensive background includes industrial accidents, motor accidents, and liability insurance matters." 

    Mr Campbell is currently the Chair of the New South Wales Bar Association Common Law Committee. Mr Campbell is also a Member of the Law Council of Australia's Personal Injuries and Compensation Committee.

    "Since taking Silk in October 2002, Mr Campbell has continued to practice law in his chosen field, focusing on larger and more complex cases," Mr Smith said.

    Mr Campbell was called to the NSW Bar in November 1985 and was appointed to Senior Counsel in October 2002.

    Mr Campbell will take up his new role as a judge of the Supreme Court in the Common Law Division from 30 April and will be sworn in on 2 May 2012.

    "I congratulate Mr Campbell on his appointment and wish him every success as a judge of the Supreme Court of NSW," Mr Smith said.

    New President for the Children's Court of NSW

    Issued: Friday, 13 April 2012

    [PDF, 307kb] 

    The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today announced the appointment of District Court Judge Peter Johnstone as President of the Children's Court of NSW.

    "Aside from being a well respected member of the judiciary, Judge Johnstone has occupied a number of important legal management positions," Mr Smith said.

    "His experience as a leader will prove valuable in his new role as the head of the Children's Court," Mr Smith said.

    Judge Johnstone has served on the bench of the District Court since 2006. He has also served as a Deputy Chair of the Medical Tribunal since 2008 and as a part-time Commissioner of the NSW Law Reform Commission since 2010.

    "As a judge, he has sat in the criminal and civil jurisdictions of the District Court, in the Medical Tribunal and has presided over a significant number of child care appeals from the Children's Court," Mr Smith said.

    Prior to taking public office, Judge Johnstone worked as a solicitor for 33 years. He held a number of senior positions at Blake Dawson Waldron including National Chief Operating Partner and Managing Partner of the law firm's Sydney and Melbourne offices.

    Judge Johnstone will begin a five year appointment as President of the Children's Court on 1 June 2012. He replaces Judge Mark Marien, who will return to the District Court.

    "I congratulate Judge Johnstone on his appointment and thank Judge Marien for his significant contribution as the state's first president of the Children's Court," Mr Smith said.


    Justice Hoeben to join the Court of Appeal

    Issued: Friday, 13 April 2012
    [PDF, 91kb]


    The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today announced the appointment of Justice Clifton Hoeben, AM, RFD, as a Judge of Appeal.

    "I congratulate Justice Hoeben on his elevation to the Court of Appeal after serving with distinction for eight years on the bench of the Supreme Court of NSW," Mr Smith said.

    Prior to joining the Supreme Court, Justice Hoeben practised as a barrister for 28 years and as a solicitor for three years. As a barrister, he developed a large appellate practice, specialising in compensation, personal injury, administrative, commercial and insurance law. He was appointed Senior Counsel in 1995.

    While working in private practice, Justice Hoeben served as a member of the Bar Council for five years and was chairman of a Bar Council professional conduct committee.

    Justice Hoeben holds a Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Laws and a Master of Laws from the University of Sydney and was awarded all three degrees with honours.

    In parallel with his legal career, Justice Hoeben has been a member of the Australian Army Reserve. He enlisted in 1965 as a private soldier, was awarded the Reserve Force Decoration (RFD) in 1980 and was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for services to the Australian Army in 1996. In the following year, he was promoted to the position of Major General.

    Justice Hoeben will begin serving as a Judge of Appeal on 23 April 2012.


    States take aim at cost of people smugglers

    Issued: Thursday, 12 April 2012
    [PDF, 481kb]


    Australia's four largest states have called on the Federal Government to help pay for the cost of a failed policy on border protection that has put a huge strain on courts and jails across the nation.

    NSW, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia will tell Commonwealth Attorney General Nicola Roxon that the funding agreement for Federal trials needs to be rewritten because the flow of illegal entry vessels shows no signs of slowing.

    In February, there were 192 crew members before State and Territory courts for alleged people smuggling. NSW, Queensland and Victoria all expect to run about 60 trials this year, with WA budgeting for 30 after years of shouldering the entire burden.

    There is also the cost of keeping about 300 convicted and alleged people smugglers in the nation's jails at an average of $289 per day. This equates to about $315,000 per convicted people smuggler if they serve the mandatory three-year minimum non-parole period.

    The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, estimated his State would spend more than $10 million this year on trying and jailing people smugglers.

    "The States are losing out and the Commonwealth is basically ignoring us,'' Mr Smith said.

    "These amounts are significant for the States. And this is money we would not be spending but for a change in policy by the federal Labor Government."

    The Victorian Attorney General, Robert Clark, said litigants were now facing six-month delays in the County Court and that, like others, his state had becoming a dumping ground for people smugglers.

    "The Commonwealth is shirking its responsibility," Mr Clark said. 

    "These crimes were committed thousands of kilometres away from Victoria.  We don't mind paying when an accused lives in this state or the crime was committed here, but not for matters which are entirely the Commonwealth's responsibility." 

    The Queensland Attorney General, Jarrod Bleijie, said Queensland taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for Federal Labor's ineffective border security policies.

    "We have 56 people smuggling crews awaiting prosecution in Queensland and at a cost of approximately $500,000 per individual, including the cost of the trial, sentencing and custody, that is a $28 million dollar hit to Queensland taxpayers," Mr Bleijie said. 

    The Attorney General of Western Australia, Christian Porter, said his state "had gone from a position of conducting almost all Australia's people smuggling trials to now conducting about 38 per cent of them".

    "This is an improvement but it is still too high," Mr Porter said. 

    "This issue will really only be solved by some indication from the Federal Labor government that if the arrivals keep occurring and the trials and prisoner numbers grow that they will start making some real financial contribution to the States."


    NSW presses for national action on organised crime

    Issued: Thursday, 12 April 2012
    [PDF, 84kb]


    NSW would welcome the Commonwealth Government becoming more involved in the fight against organised crime and firearms, Attorney General Greg Smith SC and Police Minister Mike Gallacher said today.

    Mr Gallacher is calling for an urgent meeting of the Standing Council for Police and Emergency Management to discuss ways of combating firearm-related crime across Australia.

    And Mr Smith said NSW  would be "seeking agreement from all to maximise the effort against organised crime" when Federal and State Attorneys General start a two-day meeting in Canberra this afternoon.

    "There should be mutual recognition of each other's legislation and orders made in one State should be recognised in another,'' the Attorney General said.

    "These are criminals that do not respect borders and are ruthless in exploiting weaknesses, so it's up to all of us to ensure there are none."

    Mr Smith said there was a limit to what the States could achieve through co-operation.

    "We would like the Commonwealth to be more involved and look at drawing up national laws against outlaw gangs,'' he said.

    "However, we would be very reluctant to surrender our own powers.''

    Mr Gallacher said NSW did not want to wait until the next meeting of State and Federal police ministers, which has been scheduled for August in Sydney.

    "I am asking the Federal Government to support the meeting being held at the earliest possible time, rather than waiting another four months," he said.

    Mr Gallacher said the meeting should be provided with a briefing on the illegal gun market and its links to gang activity in Australia by the recently announced Australian Crime Commission National Intelligence Assessment. 

    The Minister said NSW police had already stopped a major shipment of guns from Germany, with the help of federal authorities.

    "It is in the interests of all states and the Federal Government that a national approach is taken to stop the illegal importation of firearms, and to organised crime in general."

    People smuggling cost burden hits states

    Issued: Saturday, 7 April 2012
    [PDF, 188kb]


    The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today called on the Federal Government to help meet the cost of people smuggling trials that are clogging courts and jails across Australia.

    Mr Smith said NSW and the other States and Territories would press the Commonwealth over the issue when the nation's Attorneys General meet in Canberra next week.

    By February, NSW had spent more than $8.5million on 102 inmates held on remand or in custody for people smuggling. And with 60 trials expected this year at a cost of more than $5 million, the burden on State taxpayers is set to blow out dramatically.

    "It is unreasonable to expect the States and Territories to bear the costs of running people smuggling trials and imprisoning offenders for crimes that generally occurred well outside of their jurisdiction," Mr Smith said.

    "While the Commonwealth spent more than $1.7 billion on combating people smuggling in 2010-11, it has not shared any of that money with the States and Territories for the trials that follow."

    Mr Smith said the delays caused by people smuggling trials could adversely affect the rights of victims and defendants in other prosecutions.

    The Attorney General noted that people smugglers face a mandatory sentence of five years in jail with three years' non-parole.

    "The NSW Government is in favour of coming down hard on offenders who trade on the desperation of asylum seekers, but this regime results in a high proportion of cases progressing to trial and jail terms of three years and more,'' he said.

    In NSW, the average people smuggling trial takes 11 days at an estimated cost of $85,000. This includes the cost of a jury, which is a requirement in all Commonwealth trials. The State expects there will continue to be 60 trials per year – most involving multiple defendants – at an annual cost to taxpayers of more than $5 million.

    Between 2008 and 2010 the District Court held an average of 70 Commonwealth trials, a figure expected to rise more than 85 per cent in 2012.

    At February 1, the cost of accommodating the 102 inmates transferred by the Commonwealth to NSW was approximately $8.5 million. Those inmates spent a total of 29,190 days in custody. Across Australia, the average cost of keeping a people smuggler in custody is estimated to be $315,000*.

    Traditionally people accused of Commonwealth offences are prosecuted in the state or territory where the offence occurred.  As people smuggling offences are committed offshore, the Commonwealth has discretion in choosing the venue for prosecution ­– but no obligation to meet the cost.

    Since mid-2010, the Commonwealth has made significant operational changes to the way people smugglers are prosecuted so that trials now occur in all States and Territories. 

    In February, there were 192 crew members before State and Territory courts for alleged people smuggling. A Senate Committee heard in February that it takes an average 161 days for someone held in detention to be charged with people smuggling offences.

    * According to the Report on Government Services 2012, the national average cost per prisoner per day was $289, equating to approximately $315,000 per convicted people smuggler if a three-year minimum non-parole period is served.


    New judge welcomed to the District Court 

    Issued: Thursday, 5 April 2012
    [PDF, 95kb]


    The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today announced the appointment of Philip Taylor SC as a judge of the District Court of NSW.


    "Mr Taylor is an experienced senior counsel who has appeared in a wide range of legal proceedings at trial and on appeal in superior courts in Australia, and has assisted in significant inquiries in NSW and the ACT," Mr Smith said.

    His legal career includes 24 years as a barrister and nine years as a Senior Counsel, after earlier working with the Constitutional Commission and with the NSW Solicitor-General.

    Mr Taylor has practised principally in commercial litigation, but has appeared in a broad range of matters of public interest. He was counsel for former politician Franca Arena in the NSW Legislative Council Inquiry into her conduct and appeared for the president of the Legislative Council in proceedings against a former treasurer. 

    Mr Taylor has appeared in various constitutional proceedings, including for the Commonwealth against the Tent Embassy and for irrigation farmers against the Commonwealth. He has appeared in environmental litigation, including for an Islamic college against Bankstown Airport. He also represented orphans in a class action in proceedings against the Christian Brothers of Western Australia. 

    He also acted as Counsel Assisting the Inquiry commissioned by the ACT Legislative Assembly concerning an arrangement between the ACT TAB and a Vanuatu betting company.

    Mr Taylor holds a Bachelor of Laws (with honours) and Bachelor of Arts from the Australian National University where he was awarded the University Medal in Law in 1984. 

    Mr Taylor was born and raised in country NSW, in the Riverina town of Finley. He and his wife Lee have four children and five grandchildren. 

    Mr Taylor will be sworn in as a District Court judge on 18 April 2012.


    Time capsule unearthed at Liverpool court

    Issued: Thursday, 5 April 2012
    [PDF, 282kb]


    Builders working on the $6.5 million renovation of Liverpool Courthouse have unearthed a

    40-year-old time capsule, the NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, and Member for Menai Melanie Gibbons announced today.

    The time capsule was buried on 18 December 1972 as part of a ceremony to commemorate the opening of the courthouse and the centenary of Local Government.  According to a plaque, the time capsule is not to be opened until "the sesquicentenary of Local Government in 2022AD."

    "It is intriguing to ponder what might have been included in the capsule in 1972 – a time when Australia was undergoing significant changes," Mr Smith said.

    "It was the year conscription ended and our troops were withdrawn from the Vietnam War and the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission ruled that women doing the same job as men had the right to be paid the same wage."

    The 1972 ceremony at Liverpool Courthouse attracted a host of dignitaries, including the then Justice Minister, John Maddison, whose contribution to law in NSW was so significant that one of Sydney's largest court complexes, John Maddison Tower, was named in his honour.

    Ms Gibbons said the time capsule had to be dug up this month to enable the construction of a ramp at the entrance to Liverpool Courthouse.

    "The expansion of Liverpool Courthouse is not just delivering better justice facilities for the future, it is also preserving an important piece of local history," Ms Gibbons said.

    "The time capsule will remain on the court grounds and will be reburied in an area that will be easily accessible in 2022, when it is due to be opened."

    The largest ever renovation of Liverpool Courthouse began in February.  The project will increase the size of the building and will include:

    • the construction of an additional courtroom;

    • additional interview and meeting rooms;

    • improvements to holding cells and general courthouse security;

    • an air conditioning upgrade; and

    • improvements to accessibility for people with a disability.

    The courthouse is due to re-open early next year.  During the renovation, Liverpool court matters are being diverted to courts in Bankstown and Campbelltown.

     

    NSW Government applauds racing NSW industry funding announcement

    Wednesday 4 April, 2012    [PDF,165kb]


    Minister for Racing, George Souris, today applauded Racing NSW for making the largest prize money increases per race in the history of NSW thoroughbred racing.

    The announcement follows from the historic Race Fields High Court judgement last week and delivers significant benefits across the State and to all participants.

    "I acknowledge the intention of the Racing NSW Board to make the priority that all sectors of the NSW racing industry are viable and to secure the future for all of its 50,000 participants.

    "This means that from the 1st July there will be substantial increases in prize money for metropolitan, provincial and country racing and that prize money will be paid to tenth place.

    Mr Souris said that a major element of the funding increase is that there will be an upgrade to country and provincial racetracks, training facilities and infrastructure.

    "Another significant initiative is that licensed stable-hands will receive 1.5% of prize money.

    "This announcement will restore equity in the racing industry at all levels across the State.

    "The racing industry in NSW is a significant employer providing approximately 50,000 full and part-time employment opportunities across the State, and an economic contribution of $1 billion annually to the State’s economy.

    "This is a step in the right direction for the future of the industry and I once again commend the Racing NSW Board – both current and past members – for their hard work in making a sound platform for the future of the racing industry.

     

    Video link expansion to make courts safer  

    Issue: Friday, 30 March 2012 [PDF, 43kb]

    The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today announced an expansion of the NSW justice system's video conferencing network as new figures show usage of the facilities has almost tripled in five years.

    "Video conferencing is increasingly being used to hear prisoner bail applications, which reduces the need to transport inmates to court and improves the safety and efficiency of the justice system," Mr Smith said.

    "More than 61,000 video-link sessions were conducted in NSW justice facilities in 2010-2011, saving taxpayers millions of dollars."

    By the end of June, videoconferencing will be operating at 309 courts, correctional centres and other justice agency sites.

    Courthouses receiving installations or upgrades of videoconferencing and remote witness technology include:

    • Parramatta Local Court, Children's Court and Sydney West Trial Courts ($721,000);

    • Campbelltown Local Court and Children's Court ($350,000);

    • Burwood ($116,000);

    • Wentworth ($11,000);

    • Deniliquin ($30,000); and

    • Wellington ($40,000).

    A further 35 courthouses will receive minor audio-visual technology upgrades, at a total cost of $150,000.

    The Local Court conducts more videoconferencing sessions than any other jurisdiction, utilising the technology for matters involving defendants on remand and to hear evidence from witnesses unable to attend court.

    "For nine consecutive years, the Local Court has led the nation in the timely finalisation of criminal matters and I have no doubt that the use of videoconferencing has contributed significantly to this outstanding result," Mr Smith said.

    Daylight savings ends on Sunday

    Issued: Friday, 30 March 2012
    [PDF, 42kb]


    Daylight saving ends at 3am on Sunday and the NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today reminded NSW residents to put their clocks back by one hour before going to bed on Saturday night.

    Daylight saving is held from the first Sunday in October until the first Sunday in April in all Australian states and territories except Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory where daylight saving is not observed.

    A daylight saving fact sheet is available at www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/cru and daylight saving dates can also be accessed by calling (02) 8688 7966.

    NSW Government welcomes High Court Race Fields judgement

    Friday 30 March, 2012      [PDF,91kb]


    Minister for Racing, George Souris, today welcomed the High Court’s judgement in the constitutional challenge to the NSW Race Field legislation.

    "The High Court’s decision confirms the validity of those laws and represents a significant contribution to the future viability of the racing industry.

    "The decision underpins the principle in the legislation that all wagering operators that use race fields information as a wagering platform should pay an appropriate fee to the NSW racing industry for the use of those race fields.

    "The Liberals and Nationals have supported this principle from the outset.

    "Now that the High Court has resolved this issue it will become the legislative national template to ensure that the racing industry receives its fair share of fees from wagering operators who use racing industry product.

    "The stakeholders involved in this area should take this opportunity to engage in mutually productive discussions to ensure an economically sustainable future.

    "The NSW racing industry is a significant employer providing approximately 50,000 full and part-time employment opportunities across the State, and an economic contribution of $1 billion annually to the State’s economy.

    "I would like to congratulate Racing NSW Chairman, John Messara, Racing NSW CEO Peter V’landys, his staff and current and past board members who have carried the case for almost a decade.

    "The racing industry and the general community will be the beneficiary of the leadership shown by New South Wales. 
     


    Early finish for Inverell Court upgrade

    Issued: Friday, 23 March 2012
    [PDF, 107kb]


    The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today announced the completion of a $90,000 facelift of Inverell Courthouse.

    "The courthouse upgrade was completed this week, ahead of schedule, and included additional improvements that were not part of the original scope of the project," Mr Smith said.

    Improvements to the courthouse include:

    • full refurbishment of toilet facilities;

    • repairs to timber steps in the courtroom;

    • repainting of part of the courtroom;

    • repairing and strengthening of timber floors;

    • replacement of the external drainage system; and

    • rectification work in areas where leaking had occurred.

    While the initial plan was confined to a $50,000 repair of the court's public amenities, the NSW Government allocated an additional $40,000 for other important maintenance work.

    "The Inverell Courthouse is 125 years old and it was showing signs of wear and tear," Mr Smith said.

    "The improvements will help ensure that the courthouse remains a centre of law and justice as well as an important landmark in the town's civic precinct."

    The Inverell Courthouse was among the 130 courthouses designed by celebrated colonial architect James Barnet.  The building is heritage listed and recognised by the Office of Environment and Heritage as "an impressive example of Victorian Italianate architecture".

    Naden to be held in Supermax

    Issued: Thursday, 22 March 2012
    [PDF, 86kb]


    NSW's most wanted man, Malcolm Naden, will be held in maximum security as he awaits trial on multiple charges, including for murder, Attorney General Greg Smith SC said today.
     
    Mr Smith said Naden was refused bail when he appeared in Taree Local Court today and then handed over to Correctives Services officers for the journey to Goulburn Correctional Centre.

    There he will be held in the High Risk Management Correctional Centre – known as Supermax – where he will be closely monitored around the clock.

    Naden made no application for bail and no statement of facts was tendered. He will again appear in Taree Local Court via audio visual link on April 24.

    Naden has been charged with one count of murder, one count of shooting at with intent to murder and two counts of aggravated indecent assault.

    Police advised the court that further charges are likely to be laid.

    Mr Smith said the Police should be congratulated for apprehending Naden.

    "This was an operation which required patience, skill and determination,'' Mr Smith said.

    "The community can be assured that Naden will now face court on some very serious charges.''

    Money scams the focus of Fraud Week

    Issued: Monday, 19 March 2012
    [PDF, 114kb]


    The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today urged the community to be more vigilant about protecting private information, such as banking passwords and personal identification numbers.

    A "Slam Scams" campaign is the focus of National Consumer Fraud Week (19-25 March). It encourages people to ignore suspicious emails, letters, house visits, phone calls or mobile phone text messages. 

    "As technology is advancing, so too is the sophistication of scams," Mr Smith said. 

    "Fraudsters frequently use websites that look very professional and allow them to pose as a trustworthy person or organisation. It's a slick way of convincing people to disclose their personal financial details." 

    The number of scams reported to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission almost doubled in 2011, with the ACCC receiving more than 83,000 reports from consumers and small businesses.  

    "The old saying applies: if an unsolicited offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is," Mr Smith said.

    The Fair Trading Minister, Anthony Roberts, said scams were becoming increasingly sophisticated as criminals sought to capitalise on new technology. 

    "Scammers typically seek to target the most vulnerable consumers, but the variety and volume of scams mean that everyone is at risk,'' Mr Roberts said. 

    "It is important that we all work together to raise awareness and make it as difficult as possible for criminals to steal people's money through scams."   

    The Attorney General said people should take simple precautions when entering their personal identification number (PIN) or password.

    "I can't stress enough the importance of keeping your PIN and banking passwords a secret,'' Mr Smith said.

    "Make sure there is no one looking over your shoulder when you do your online banking and cover your hand when entering your PIN at an ATM."

    Mr Smith said locking mobile phones and protecting passwords was another way of guarding against fraud.

    "A smart phone contains a treasure trove of personal information that could be exploited if it falls into the wrong hands," Mr Smith said.

    "Smart phone users should also be careful when downloading apps and should consider installing security software from a reputable provider." 

    The Department of Attorney General and Justice is a Principal Partner of National Fraud Week, along with a number of government, business and community group partners. The Department is supporting National Consumer Fraud Week through an online campaign to educate consumers about payment fraud. 

    For more information about the various types of payment fraud, as well as tips on how to lessen the chances of becoming a victim, go to: www.crimeprevention.nsw.gov.au.


    Flooding at Hay

    Issued: Friday, 16 March 2012

    Due to an evacuation order for the Hay town area, the Hay registry is closed until Monday 19 March 2012. Court sittings are not scheduled at Hay until April 2012.

     

    Judge Finnane joins Dust Diseases Tribunal

    Issued: Friday, 16 March 2012
    [PDF, 284kb]


    The Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today congratulated District Court judge Michael Finnane QC on his appointment as a judge of the Dust Diseases Tribunal of NSW.

    Judge Finnane started duty this morning at the Tribunal's new complex at John Madison Tower in Sydney's CBD.

    "Judge Finnane has served on the bench of the District Court for more than a decade, sentencing some of the state's most notorious criminals including the Skaf gang rapists and paedophile Robert 'Dolly' Dunn," Mr Smith said.

    "At the Dust Diseases Tribunal, Judge Finnane will be presented with a different set of challenges, as he determines the compensation claims of people who have contracted mesothelioma and other deadly dust-related conditions." 

    Judge Finnane's legal career spans more than 40 years.  He was admitted as a barrister in 1969 and appointed a Queens Counsel in 1982. As a barrister, he appeared in many significant inquiries including the:

    Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (appearing for the NSW Government);

    • Wood Royal Commission into the Police Service (as senior counsel for the Police Service);

    • Inquiry into the conviction of Andrew Kalajzich for the murder of his wife (as senior counsel assisting the inquiry); and the

    • Inquiry into the Glenbrook train disaster (appearing for the NSW Government).

     In October 2000, Judge Finnane was appointed to the bench of the District Court where he has remained until he was appointed to the Dust Diseases Tribunal.


    Mr Smith said the Dust Diseases Tribunal was entering a new era with the arrival of Judge Finnane and the development of new headquarters at John Madison Tower.


    "The Dust Diseases Tribunal's new facilities include technology that will enable hearings to proceed more efficiently, which is crucial in cases involving people who may only have weeks or days to live," Mr Smith said.

    The technology enables witness testimony (including evidence given via audio-visual link) to be digitally recorded, while X-rays and MRI scans can be displayed in high definition on large LCD screens.    Each of the four courtrooms also features infra-red hearing aid technology and three have oversized witness boxes to enable experts to take the stand simultaneously.

    Leading crime silk appointed District Court Judge

    Issued: Thursday, 15 March 2012

    [PDF, 259kb]


    The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today announced the appointment of Chris Hoy SC, as a judge of the District Court of NSW.

    "Mr Hoy is an experienced, versatile and highly sought after barrister and I am sure the District Court will welcome his addition to the bench," Mr Smith said.

    Mr Hoy has appeared at both ends of the bar table in every criminal court in NSW.  He helped prosecute former assistant tax commissioner Nick Petroulias and represented defendants charged with the murder of Cabramatta MP John Newman.

    His criminal law practice has overlapped in a number of significant administrative law matters.  He was part of a legal team that appeared in the Federal Court of Australia seeking the release and repatriation of the then Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks.

    Mr Hoy has also served as counsel assisting at inquiries conducted by the NSW Police Integrity Commission, various Federal agencies and the NSW Coroner's Court.

    He has assisted Coroners in more than a dozen high profile inquiries in NSW including the inquest into the death of a baby girl whose parents failed to obtain proper medical treatment for her chronic eczema. In the Northern Territory, Mr Hoy assisted the Coroner at an inquest into the starvation death of a neglected seven-week-old boy whose body was found in a car outside a petrol station.

    Mr Hoy has also maintained a common law practice, representing defendants and plaintiffs in medical and professional negligence cases.

    He has made a significant pro bono contribution to the community and has had a long-standing involvement in the NSW Bar Association reader education programs, Continuing Legal Education (CLE) lectures and professional conduct committees.

    Mr Hoy began his career in the law in 1975 in country NSW working as a clerk within what was then known as the Courts of Petty Sessions. After being admitted as a solicitor in 1985, he moved to private practice in Penrith.  He was called to the Bar in 1989 and was appointed Senior Counsel in 2008.

    He will be sworn in as a judge of the District Court of NSW on 16 April 2012.

    NSW Government helps councils to combat graffiti

    Issued: Wednesday, 14 March 2012
    [PDF, 95kb]


    The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today announced $800,000 in funding to help councils in Sydney, the Hunter region, the Central Coast and the South Coast to combat graffiti through clever environmental design.

    The seven councils selected for this year's Graffiti Hotspot program are Bankstown, Leichhardt, Liverpool, Marrickville, Maitland, Shoalhaven and Wyong.

    "Using Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design techniques, the Graffiti Hotspot program will make vulnerable public areas safer, more attractive to the community and more resistant to graffiti," Mr Smith said.

    "Changes to the urban landscape can render frequently targeted walls inaccessible to graffiti vandals or increase the likelihood of offenders being caught in the act."

    While each program will be tailored to meet the challenges of the local community, the anti-graffiti techniques used may include:

    • Green Screening – using landscaping to act as a natural barrier to protect walls from graffiti;

    • surface treatments – applying an anti-graffiti coating to walls to facilitate the fast removal of spray paint;

    • signs to encourage the community to respect community facilities; and

    • the installation of community-based art.

    Mr Smith said members of the community would also play a key role in reducing graffiti.

    "Some people have become reluctant to visit graffiti-damaged public areas, such as parks, because they feel unsafe.  

    "The Graffiti Hotspot program will encourage public use of these areas, which will increase natural surveillance and make it harder for graffiti vandals to avoid detection," Mr Smith said.

    Mr Smith said the program was part of the NSW Government's comprehensive anti-graffiti strategy.

    "Graffiti costs the community more than $100 million a year and combating this scourge is among the O'Farrell Government's highest priorities. 

    "The NSW Government is working with a range of community organisations such as Rotary Clubs to establish volunteer graffiti removal squads across the state.

    "With the support of local councils, the government will also hold its annual day for community action against graffiti. 

    "I encourage the community to report graffiti to the government's new Graffiti Hotline on 1800 707 125," Mr Smith said.

    The effect of arrest and imprisonment on crime

    Issued: Tuesday, 13 March 2012
    [PDF, 1.1Mb]


    Increasing the risk of arrest and the probability of imprisonment are much more effective in preventing property and violent crime than increasing the length of prison terms, according to a new study of the effectiveness of the criminal justice system in controlling crime, released today by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.

    The study is one of the most comprehensive ever carried out in Australia into the effectiveness of the criminal justice system in controlling crime.

    It examined the effect of changes in the probability of arrest, the probability of imprisonment and the length of the average prison term on trends in property and violent crime across every Local Government Area (LGA) in NSW between 1996 and 2008.

    Special measures were taken to control for other factors that influence crime, such as household income and drug use. The study also controlled for the effect of crime on the criminal justice system.

    The Bureau found that a 10 per cent increase in the risk of arrest in the long run produces a 1.35 per cent reduction in property crime, while a 10 per cent increase in the imprisonment risk produces a 1.15 per cent reduction in property crime.

    Similarly, in the long run, a 10 per cent increase in the risk of arrest for violent crime produces a 2.97 per cent reduction in violent crime, while a 10 per cent increase in the risk of imprisonment produces a 1.7 per cent reduction in violent crime.

    Although increasing the risk of arrest appears to exert a stronger effect on property and violent crime than increasing the risk of imprisonment, the differences were not found to be statistically significant. Arrest and imprisonment, however, were found to exert significantly stronger effects on violent crime than on property crime.

    A 10 per cent increase in the risk of arrest in the long run produces a 2.97 per cent reduction in violent crime, compared with a fall of only 1.35 per cent reduction in property crime.

    Similarly, a 10 per cent increase in the imprisonment risk reduces violent crime by 1.7 per cent compared with a 1.2 per cent reduction in property crime.

    The stronger effect for violent crime may be at least partly due to the higher risk of arrest for violent crime relative to property crime. The 30 day clear-up rate for non-domestic assault, for example, is 21.7 per cent, compared with 3.7 per cent for burglary.

    Interestingly, the study found that household income exerted a much stronger effect on crime than the criminal justice system.

    A 10 per cent increase in household income was estimated to produce an 18.9 per cent reduction in property crime over the long term and a 14.6 per cent reduction in violent crime. The effect of income on property crime is more than 14 times larger than the effect of arrest, while its effect on violent crime is nearly five times larger.

    Commenting on the findings, the Director of the Bureau, Dr Don Weatherburn, said that they were very reassuring given that Australia currently spends more than $11.5 billion annually on law and order. In per capita terms, this amounts to $511.00 per person per annum.

    "At the same time, it is important to bear in mind that the study did not examine the cost-effectiveness of current policy in controlling crime."

    "Overseas research suggests that it is possible in some circumstances to cut crime and spend less doing it than we currently spend locking people up. The NSW Drug Court is a good example."

    Further enquiries: Dr Don Weatherburn, 9231 9190


    Drink drivers on notice after sentencing report

    Issued: Monday, 12 March 2012
    [PDF,  91kb]


    Good behaviour licences should be considered for those who are found guilty of drink-driving but receive no other penalty, according to a report by the NSW Sentencing Council.

    The Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, said the report on good behaviour bonds and non-conviction orders, released today, found the courts were coming down harder than ever on drunk drivers but magistrates needed more flexibility in sentencing.

    "Good behaviour licence conditions could be imposed on drink drivers in cases where not recording a conviction would be too lenient, but a conviction with a disqualification would be too severe," Mr Smith said.

    "This is a proposal squarely aimed at those drink drivers currently walking away from court with no conviction and their licenses intact.  This report puts drink drivers on notice and its recommendations will be closely considered by the Government."

    Currently, those convicted of drink driving can be disqualified from getting behind the wheel for up to five years and be jailed for up to two years, while those given a "Section 10" retain their licence and receive no additional restrictions. 

    Mr Smith said the Sentencing Council believed good behaviour licences could reduce the number of Section 10s in drink-driving cases.

    However, the report notes mid-range drink drivers, who can be jailed for up to nine months for a first offence, would rarely qualify for good behaviour licences.

    The Attorney General said Transport NSW and police would be involved in assessing the viability of the proposal and that he welcomed community input.

    Mr Smith said the report served as a timely reminder to motorists.

    "One sure way to avoid a conviction is to avoid driving altogether after consuming alcohol," Mr Smith said.

    "The Sentencing Council report demonstrates that the courts are coming down harder on drunk drivers and a conviction against your name could have a serious impact on your employment prospects."

     

    Flooding at Narrandera

    Issued: Friday, 9 March 2012

    Due to flooding, road closures and an evacuation warning, the Narrandera registry has now closed for the day.

    Court sittings are not scheduled at Narrandera until 22 and 23 March 2012.

    Leeton Court sittings cancelled for today

    Issued: Friday, 9 March 2012

    Due to flooding at Leeton, the Court Sittings for Friday 9 March 2012 are cancelled. All cases will be re-listed to another date.

     

    NSW Government backs certainty for asbestos victims

    Issued: Thursday, 8 March 2012
    [PDF, 250kb]

               
    The NSW Government is committed to maintaining the agreement between James Hardie and the NSW Government, which has created certainty for asbestos victims and their families.

    The Government will not put into jeopardy the entitlements of asbestos sufferers by acting prematurely.

    The following passages from the NSW Law Reform Commission's report on compensation to relatives in dust diseases cases underline why this approach is the correct one.

    As a general proposition, it is undesirable that any government take action that would involve it in a breach of an agreement to which it is a party, unless there is a good cause for doing so. Clearly this is an issue on which it would need to take legal advice and engage in negotiations with James Hardie (Para 2.111). 

    The considerations of cost and commercial certainty identified earlier are important, but ultimately their weight depends on whether abolition of the Strikwerda principle would generate any significant increase in filings or in the costs of claims. Our general impression is that it would not do so, although this could only be confirmed by actuarial prediction, that we are not in a position to make...[It] is acknowledged that before taking legislative action, it would be prudent for the Government to procure an independent actuarial assessment (Para 2.115-2.117).

    New District Court Judge for Newcastle

    Issued: Wednesday, 7 March 2012
    [PDF, 199kb]


    The Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today announced the appointment of Peter Maiden SC as a judge of the District Court of NSW.

    "Mr Maiden will be initially based in Parramatta before being transferred to Newcastle to occupy the position previously held by the late District Court judge Ralph Coolahan," Mr Smith said.

    Mr Smith said Mr Maiden has a comprehensive knowledge of the law having practised in a wide range of areas over the past 38 years.

    In criminal law, he has acted for the prosecution and defence in jury trials, sentence hearings and appeals.  In the civil jurisdiction, he has appeared in matters involving personal injury, family law, wills and property relationships.

    While his practice is based in Sydney, Mr Maiden has also worked extensively in northern NSW.  In addition, he has practised as a solicitor in Penrith and England and as a barrister in trials and appeals in Fiji.


    Mr Maiden defended Fiji's former prime minister Major-General Sitiveni Rabuka and politician Ratu Inoke Taviekata against charges of inciting mutiny.

    He has also served as a councillor of the NSW Bar Association, working on education, finance and disciplinary matters.

    Mr Maiden was admitted as a solicitor in 1974 and became a barrister in 1981. He was appointed as a Senior Counsel in 2006.  

    He will be sworn in as a judge of the District Court on 12 March 2012.

    Forbes Courthouse closure due to flooding

    Issued: Wednesday, 7 March 2012

    Forbes Courthouse is closed on 7, 8 and 9 March 2012 due to flooding in the Forbes CBD. There are no court sittings at Forbes during this period.

    Wagga Wagga flooding – cancelled sittings and listing arrangements for affected cases

    Issued: Tuesday, 6 March 2012

    Due to severe flooding, the court sittings at Wagga Wagga Local Court and District Court for Tuesday 6 March 2012 and Wednesday 7 March 2012 have been cancelled.  All cases listed on these dates have been re-listed as follows:

    Cases listed on 6 March 2012

    Persons in custody - re-listed to Thursday 8 March 2012.

    All other Local Court cases – all are re-listed on Tuesday 13 March 2012.  Where applicable, bail is continued until that date and interim orders are continued until that date.  

    District Court trial of R v Neville – re-listed to Thursday 8 March 2012.  

    All other District Court cases – re-listed to Thursday 8 March 2012. Where applicable, bail is continued until that date and interim orders are continued until that date.  



    Cases listed on 7 March 2012

    Persons in custody - re-listed to Thursday 8 March 2012.

    Cases listed for hearing – re-listed to Wednesday 21 March 2012 for a fresh hearing date to be allocated.  Where applicable, bail is continued until that date and interim orders are continued until that date.  

    All other Local Court cases – all are re-listed on Wednesday 21 March 2012.  Where applicable, bail is continued until that date and interim orders are continued until that date.  

    District Court trial of R v Neville – re-listed to Thursday 8 March 2012.  

    All other District Court cases – re-listed to Thursday 8 March 2012. Where applicable, bail is continued until that date and interim orders are continued until that date.  


    District Court Jurors - jurors called for 7 March 2012 are to attend on Thursday 8 March 2012.

    Further changes to these arrangements may be required if flooding continues.  For urgent inquiries, please contact Albury court on 02 6023 8555.

    Wagga Wagga Court closed for today

    Issued: Tuesday, 6 March 2012

    Wagga Wagga CBD has been evacuated due to flooding and the court will be closed on Tuesday, 6 March 2012.

    The Domestic Violence Intervention Court Model: A follow-up study

    Issued: Tuesday, 6 March 2012
    [PDF, 1.7mb]


    A program designed to improve the response of the criminal justice system to cases involving domestic violence has had mixed success, according to a new report released today by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.

    The domestic violence intervention court model (DVICM) sought to improve the criminal justice system's response to domestic violence by improving police evidence gathering in relation to domestic violence, improving the efficiency of the court response to matters of domestic violence, providing greater support to victims of domestic violence and improving the management of domestic violence offenders. 

    An earlier evaluation of the program at Campbelltown, Macquarie Fields, and Wagga Wagga Local Area Commands found positive support from the program from victims of domestic violence. It also found some improvements in the police and court response to cases of domestic violence. 

    There was no change, however, in the number of suspected offenders who were charged, the proportion of those charged who pleaded guilty or the time taken to finalize domestic violence cases in the courts. Nor was there any increase in the proportion of offenders placed under some form of supervision.


    This first evaluation only had a short follow up period (18mths) and this may have hampered efforts to examine the full effect of the program. The primary aim of the current study was to examine whether domestic violence police and court outcomes have changed over a longer follow-up period (54 months). 

    The results of the current evaluation show that the DVICM increased the proportion of persons of interest charged in Macquarie Fields but not in Campbelltown or Wagga Wagga Local Area Commands. 

    They also show that the DVICM reduced the time taken to finalize domestic violence matters in Campbelltown and Wagga Wagga Local Courts. 

    However the program did not affect the proportion of matters finalized on a plea of guilty; the proportion of matters finalized on a dismissal; the proportion of offenders imprisoned or placed under supervision. 

    Further enquiries: Dr Don Weatherburn 9231-9190 

     

    JPs must confirm identity by seeing face

    Issued: Monday, 5 March 2012
    [PDF, 95kb]


    People asking Justices of the Peace and lawyers to witness documents will now be required to show their face as part of new identity check laws announced today by the Attorney General, Greg Smith SC.

    Mr Smith said a case last year involving a woman who made a complaint about a policeman's conduct after a routine traffic matter highlighted the need for the rules to be clarified.

    The new laws, which come into effect on April 30, will apply to NSW statutory declarations and affidavits and cover anything which conceals a person face – including motorcycle helmets, masks, veils, scarves, niqabs and balaclavas.

    Authorised witnesses, such as JPs and lawyers, will now be required to follow three additional steps:

    • see the face of the person making the NSW statutory declaration or affidavit;

    • confirm the person's identity, and

    • certify on the document that these requirements have been met.

    "The laws provide clarity to JPs, legal practitioners and the public about what is required of them, which will reduce the potential for confusion or embarrassment," Mr Smith said.

    "In some situations, it means individuals wearing full and partial face-covering garments will need to reveal their face for the purpose of identification. 

    "If a person is wearing a face covering, an authorised witness should politely and respectfully ask them to show their face. 

    "The person would only be required to show their face for as long as it is necessary to establish identity.''

    "If a person refuses to show their face, an authorised witness must decline to sign their documents unless the person has a legitimate medical reason for keeping their face covered.''

    The reforms follow changes to traffic laws, under which a driver who refuses to show their face can be jailed for up to a year or fined $5500.

    The Attorney General said the reforms would enshrine in law a practice that many authorised witnesses have routinely undertaken when checking documents for services including land transfers, mortgages, banking and health care.

    Authorised witnesses who do not comply with the new requirements face a fine of $220.  Details of the requirements will be emailed or posted to every JP this month, and are also available on the JP website, www.jp.nsw.gov.au.


    Mr Smith said the more comprehensive identity checks would minimise the risk of fraud and ensure that JPs and other authorised witnesses faced no impediments when performing their duties.

    There are around 90,000 JPs in NSW, who provide the service on a voluntary basis.

    To find a JP in your area, or to learn how to become a JP, visit: www.jp.nsw.gov.au


    Hunter firm wins $2M court contract  

    Issued: Thursday, 1 March 2012
    [PDF, 79kb]


    A Hunter firm has been awarded a $2 million contract to reinforce the site where the Newcastle Courthouse will be built, the NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, and the Member for Newcastle, Tim Owen, announced today.

    "As the ground beneath the Burwood Wedge was once mined, it is necessary to perform stabilisation work in the area before construction of the courthouse can begin," Mr Smith said.

    Bulk Flyash Grout Pty Ltd will carry out the mine rectification work, known as grouting, between March and June.

    The $94 million Newcastle Courthouse is being developed adjacent to the Newcastle Council Chambers on the corner of Burwood and Hunter Streets.

    Mr Owen said he was delighted with the progress of the Newcastle Courthouse project.

    "With the Development Application submitted to council and site preparations advancing rapidly, Newcastle is on course to have a world-class courthouse in just over two years," Mr Owen said.

    "The seven-storey building will be approximately 25 per cent larger than the city's existing courthouse, featuring 10 technologically advanced courtrooms, two tribunal rooms and an array of facilities for the legal profession, victims of crime and other court users.

    "The new complex will also be closer to public transport than the old courthouse and is within walking distance of parking stations."

    Mr Smith said the government will continue to consult the legal profession and justice agencies on the internal layout of the building.

    "While the DA has been submitted, there is still work to be done to ensure the final design meets the needs of court users," Mr Smith said.

    Top Silk appointed Supreme Court Judge

    Issued: Thursday, 1 March 2012
    [PDF, 78kb]


    The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today announced the appointment of Robert Beech-Jones SC as a judge of the Supreme Court of NSW.

    "Mr Beech-Jones has enjoyed a distinguished legal career spanning almost a quarter of a century and his elevation to the bench of the Supreme Court is well deserved,"

    Mr Smith said.


    As a barrister, Mr Beech-Jones has appeared in numerous matters of significance, particularly in the areas of commercial and administrative law, regulatory enforcement and white-collar crime.

    Mr Beech-Jones performed the role of counsel assisting at the Royal Commission into the collapse of HIH and at an Independent Commission Against Corruption hearing.

    He has repeatedly appeared for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, including in civil proceedings against former directors of James Hardie.

    Mr Beech-Jones represented former PricewaterhouseCoopers partner Christina Rich in one of the largest sexual harassment cases in Australian history and appeared for former Guantanamo Bay detainee Mamdouh Habib in a lawsuit against the Federal Government.

    Mr Beech-Jones holds a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and a Bachelor of Science from the Australian National University (ANU).  He was admitted as a solicitor in 1988 and as a barrister in 1992.  He was appointed as a Senior Counsel in 2006.

    He has also served as a member of the NSW Bar Association's professional conduct and human rights committees.

    Mr Beech-Jones will be sworn in as a judge of the Supreme Court on 12 March 2012.

    Hotline to tackle graffiti menace

    Issued: Thursday, 1 March 2012
    [PDF, 96kb]

    The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today launched a free State-wide hotline for the reporting of graffiti.

    "Graffiti is a scourge on our community and the cause of great anger for people who take pride in their surroundings,'' Mr Smith said.

    "Until now there has been no single number to notify authorities about graffiti, which has caused confusion and delays in removal.

    "From this morning, the NSW Graffiti Hotline will make it easier to report graffiti in NSW, which will result in faster clean ups."

    The hotline (free call 1800 707 125) will operate from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays. 

    Each Local Government area in NSW has established an email address to receive referrals from the Graffiti Hotline and police will also be given the data.  

    "Anyone can phone the hotline to report graffiti in NSW and callers can remain anonymous if they are concerned for their privacy and safety," Mr Smith said.

    "After receiving a report, hotline operators will send the information to the Government agency or local council responsible for cleaning it up."

    The O'Farrell Government has also funded clean-up squads run by Rotary and other community groups and is working with local councils on reducing graffiti.

    The Graffiti Hotline will provide important statistics on the extent of the graffiti problem and those locations most often under attack.

    "Information gathered from the hotline will help police respond to graffiti and assist in the development of innovative programs to prevent this crime," Mr Smith said. 

    Mr Smith said the hotline delivered on an election promise and would form a key part of the NSW Government's strategy to reduce the impact of graffiti on local communities.

    "Each year, graffiti attacks cost the state more than $100 million, and State Rail alone spends more than $50 million alone cleaning up trains,'' Mr Smith said. 


    "This is money that the government would prefer to be spending on our schools, libraries and roads.

    "The perpetrators might like to think of themselves as artists, but they are really vandals who show no respect for other people's property.

    "The rapid removal of unsightly tags will discourage vandals by denying them the notoriety they crave.

    "It will also help build community pride and reduce fear of crime."

     

    Sydney Barrister appointed a District Court Judge

    Issued: Wednesday, 29 February 2012

    [PDF, 43kb]

    The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today announced the appointment of Phillip Mahony SC as a judge of the District Court of NSW.

    "Mr Mahony brings 33 years of diverse legal experience to the bench of the District Court," Mr Smith said.

    As a barrister, Mr Mahony has practised extensively in the District and Supreme Courts of NSW, representing defendants in criminal trials and appearing on behalf of plaintiffs and defendants in civil trials.

    Mr Mahony has represented both sides in common law proceedings including cases involving professional negligence, industrial accidents and motor vehicle accidents.

    He has appeared on behalf of insurers in a range of matters including cases involving allegations of fraud.  He has also prosecuted matters for the NSW Bar Association.

    While his practice has been based in NSW, Mr Mahony has also appeared in the Supreme Courts of the ACT and Tasmania.

    Mr Mahony was admitted as a solicitor in NSW and the ACT in 1979 and achieved partner status at a law firm two years later.

    He was admitted as a barrister in 1986 and appointed a Senior Counsel in 2004.

    Mr Mahony will be sworn in as a judge of the District Court of NSW on 19 March 2012.

    Name Change takes effect for licensing authority

    Wednesday 29 February 2012     [PDF,79 KB]


    The name of the Casino, Liquor and Gaming Control Authority – the State’s independent licensing body – will change from tomorrow to more accurately reflect its role.

    Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Hospitality, Racing and the Arts, George Souris, said that from March 1, it would be known as the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority.

    Mr Souris pointed out that the name change was passed by Parliament in November last year.

    "There will be no change to its role, authority, independence or its powers," Mr Souris said.

    "The Authority plays a pivotal role in reducing the harm associated with alcohol and gambling and ensuring the integrity of these industries.

    "It performs key functions under NSW casino, liquor and gaming machine laws, including determining applications for new liquor licences and extended trading hours, as well as gaming machine increases and disciplinary complaints against licensed venues.

    "It is also responsible for licensing and regulating the casino and has inspectors on site 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week.

    "The former Casino, Liquor and Gaming Control Authority was established in July 2008 when the new liquor laws came into effect and absorbed the functions of the Licensing Court of NSW, the Liquor Administration Board and the Casino Control Authority.

    "The new name more accurately reflects its role as a completely independent decision- maker and its primary duties in licensing the liquor and gaming industries in NSW.

    "The Authority’s functions and powers are unaffected by the name change.

    "Chris Sidoti (Chair), David Armati (Deputy Chair), Sharryn Brownlee, Ken Brown and David Greenhouse (Chief Executive) remain as members of the Authority.

    "I wish the members and officers of the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority well in continuing to perform their important duties."

    The Authority’s new website is

    www.ilga.nsw.gov.au.

    Court Support for Victims under review 

    Issued: Tuesday, 28 February 2012

    [PDF, 89kb]

    The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today announced an independent review of all NSW court support services for victims of crime.

    Mr Smith said the review would also examine training, accreditation and the development of minimum standards for support services.

    "Many victims are anxious and vulnerable when they come to court and it is vital that they are able to access high-quality support," Mr Smith said.

    "Up to a dozen different government and non-government support services are operating within our courts and many victims are confused about which one will best meet their needs."

    Mr Smith said the review would assess the quality of services available, identify any gaps or duplication and explore ways of improving court support for victims in line with the Charter of Victims' Rights.

    The Vice President of the Victims of Crime Assistance League, Howard Brown, said the review could lead to a fairer distribution of services for victims.

    "There is no doubt that some rural areas in NSW are lacking in adequate support services for victims and the review should be able to identify the areas in greatest need," Mr Brown said.

     Mr Brown said he hoped the review would increase public awareness of the services available.

     "There are many kinds of support organisations operating in courts across NSW, from the volunteers who provide tea and biscuits to the highly skilled teams that look after victims of specific crimes such as domestic violence or sexual assault,'' he said.

    "We must make sure that victims are aware of the services on offer and increasing co-ordination between services will help ensure that no one falls through the cracks."

    The review will go out to tender and be completed by the end of year.

     

    $6.5 million facelift for Liverpool Court

    Issued: Thursday, 23 February 2012

    [PDF, 86kb]

    The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today awarded the contract for the $6.5 million expansion of Liverpool Courthouse to a Sydney-based construction business with more than 88 years of experience.

    "I am delighted to announce A W Edwards has been appointed to undertake the largest construction project at Liverpool Courthouse since it was built in the 1970s," Mr Smith said.

    "The O'Farrell Government has increased the original scope of the renovations to include the construction of an additional courtroom at Liverpool to accommodate increasing demand for facilities in Sydney's south-west.

    "There will also be new meeting rooms for court users such as prosecutors, Legal Aid, the Aboriginal Legal Service and Corrective Services."

    Other features of the renovations include:

    • additional interview rooms;

    • improvements to security;

    • an upgrade of holding cells;

    • the relocation of the Sheriff's Office into the main registry;

    • an air conditioning upgrade;

    • better facilities for people with a disability; and

    • improvements to other public facilities.

    Liverpool Courthouse has closed for the renovations, with staff being relocated to nearby courts. The building will have five courtrooms operating when it reopens.

    "During the project, two additional courts are sitting at Bankstown and one additional court is sitting at Campbelltown to manage Liverpool's caseload," Mr Smith said.

    "Additional sittings have also been scheduled at Camden Local Court to deal with Liverpool matters." 

    The expansion of Liverpool Courthouse will begin on Monday and is due for completion early next year.

    NSW shuts name change loophole for criminals 

    Issued: Tuesday, 21 February 2012

    [PDF, 162kb]


    Murderers, rapists and other dangerous criminals will not be able to change their name if it would allow them to avoid detection, NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell and Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today.


    Under new laws to be introduced to Parliament this week, an "alert list" of serious offenders will be sent to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM). Applications from these serious offenders to the BDM without the support of supervising authorities will be rejected.

    Mr O'Farrell said under existing laws there was nothing to stop a prisoner or parolee from changing their name. 

    "These new laws give priority to the safety of the community and the rights of victims,'' Mr O'Farrell said.

    "It will now be much harder for serious sex offenders, inmates, parolees and forensic patients to seek a name change.

    "While NSW is determined to act on behalf of victims of crime and the community, it is important there is no weak link in Australia that could be exploited by criminals.


    "The Attorney General has been pressing this issue for some time at a national level - the onus is now on the other states to follow our lead."

    Mr Smith said prisoners would only be able to apply for a new name if their supervising authority (Corrective Services or the Mental Health Review Tribunal) was satisfied the change was necessary or reasonable and it was unlikely to offend victims and the community.

    Inmates and forensic patients will be blocked from submitting any application to the BDM if a name change is reasonably likely to:

    • threaten security; or

    • jeopardise a person's health or safety; or

    • be used for an unlawful purpose.

    Offenders under supervision in the community will be prevented from making an application if there is a reasonable likelihood they would use a new name to avoid being monitored.

    The registry will refuse any application made by serious sex offenders, inmates, parolees and forensic patients that hasn't received the written approval of their supervising authority.

    "As a further safeguard, Corrective Services and the Mental Health Review Tribunal will notify BDM of the identity of serious sex offenders, prisoners, parolees and forensic patients," Mr Smith said.

    He said the Standing Committee on Law and Justice had agreed on a better approach to change of name processes in Australia.

    "It is welcome that all the other states have now signed up to NSW's 10-point plan that features a National Proof of Identity Framework.

    "I urge my colleagues in other states to introduce these same laws to close any loophole that can be exploited by criminals," Mr Smith said.

     

    NSW continues to support asbestos victims

    Issued: Friday, 17 February 2012
    [PDF, 73kb]


    The Asbestos Injuries Compensation Fund (AICF) has today received $29.7 million in short term loan funding from the New South Wales and Commonwealth Governments.  

    The funding is being provided under a $320 million loan facility entered into in 2010.

    "This funding provides financial stability to the AICF and peace of mind to asbestos victims," NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith said.  

    The AICF was established following a 2005 agreement between the NSW Government and James Hardie.  The Agreement provides for James Hardie to fund asbestos-related personal injury claims against its former subsidiaries in Australia. 

    James Hardie's contributions to AICF under the Funding Agreement to date have been $426 million.

    It is expected James Hardie will continue to make asbestos compensation payments under the Funding Agreement for at least the next 34 years.  The total amount of funding is expected to be around $1.4 billion. 

    Although the total amount of funding over the life of the Funding Agreement is not capped, James Hardie's contributions in any financial year are capped at 35 per cent of its global operating cash flows. 

    In recent years those cash flows have been impacted by cyclical factors and, in particular, by the unprecedented downturn in the US housing construction market.

    The loan ensures that the AICF can continue to pay claims in full, avoiding the need for claims to be rationed and paid in instalments.

    The loan does not reduce James Hardie's obligations under the Funding Agreement. 

    "The NSW Government will continue to oversee the provision of funding by James Hardie under the Funding Agreement", Mr Smith said.


    "We also reaffirm our commitment to continue to make funding available to the AICF in accordance with the 2010 Loan Facility Agreement."

     

    First look at new courthouse in Newcastle

    Issued: Friday, 17 February 2012
    [PDF, 76kb]


    The development application for the construction of the $94 million Newcastle Courthouse has been submitted to council, Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today.

    "The DA provides a vision for the largest court development in regional NSW since colonial times," Mr Smith said.

    Mr Smith today released four digitally illustrated images of the architect's design for the building's façade.

    "The building in the pictures will be a reality by 2014 - a fully functional courthouse with at least 10 state-of-the-art courtrooms and a host of facilities for the legal profession, victims of crime and justice agencies," Mr Smith said.

    The courthouse complex will comprise a podium-like structure that will wrap around the intersection of Hunter Street and Burwood Street.  The upper levels of the seven-storey building will be set back from the street frontages and boundaries.

    A large proportion of the building's façade will be glass, allowing the complex to be filled with natural light.

    "The design will create a welcoming atmosphere in keeping with the NSW Government's philosophy that the justice system should be open and accessible," Mr Smith said. 

    The first stage of construction is set to begin at the Burwood Wedge site in the middle of the year, following the demolition of the derelict New Fred Ash building (scheduled for completion within two months).  The first stage will involve mine rectification work and the stabilisation of coal seams beneath the site.  The main construction works are expected to start towards the end of 2012.  

    Thousands of bricks from the New Fred Ash building will be used in the construction of the new courthouse.

    "This project is not just about building a future for Newcastle, it is also about acknowledging the city's history," Mr Smith said.

    The Member for Newcastle, Tim Owen, said the proposed Courthouse facilities were sorely needed. 

    "The NSW Government allocated funding for the Courthouse development in its first Budget, handed down in September 2011,'' Mr Owen said.

    "It will not only be a vast improvement on existing facilities, but will inject new life into the Newcastle CBD through the development of world-class facilities and create jobs for the region during construction.''    

    The Newcastle Lord Mayor, John Tate, welcomed the submission of the DA. 

    "Development that has the potential to generate local jobs and helps to revitalise the Civic Precinct is definitely worth consideration by the City of Newcastle," Councillor Tate said. 

    High-resolution images are available upon request.


    NSW bikie laws to be fixed

    Issued: Tuesday, 14 February 2012
    [PDF, 248kb]


    The Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, said the NSW Government will today introduce legislation aimed at outlaw motorcycle gangs as part of its tough package to tackle organised crime.

    However, Mr Smith said the legislation to repair a key section of the Crimes (Criminal Organisations Control) Act 2009 was only the first step in what must be a national response to the issue.

    As foreshadowed late last year, the Act will enable NSW Police to apply to an eligible Supreme Court judge to have a bikie gang declared a criminal organisation and to have control orders imposed which prohibit gang members from associating with each other.

    "Importantly, judges will now be required to give reasons for declaring a criminal organisation, which will address a key issue in the High Court decision which struck down NSW bikie laws last year," Mr Smith said.

    "We are fixing the rushed and flawed legislation put in place by the previous Labor Government, which was ultimately struck down by the High Court."

    Mr Smith said the government had examined methods that deal with organised crime across the world and that the new laws on firearms and consorting, announced yesterday, would assist any future application to have a gang declared a criminal organisation in the Supreme Court. 

    "These are modern laws for modern policing,'' he said.

    "The NSW Government – working with police – will not stand by and let outlaw motorcycle gangs run riot on our streets. 

    "We will continue to give police the powers and resources they need in their war against criminal organisations.

    Mr Smith warned there would be problems with the previous legislation when it was introduced by Labor in April 2009. He told Parliament it was "rushed" and that it may infringe the provisions in the constitution which enshrine judicial independence. The High Court's ruling reflected the Attorney General's concerns.

    The Attorney General said the requirement for a judge to give reasons should "remove any apparent constitutional impediment to the re-enactment of the laws". There will also be amendments to cover the provision of confidential information.

    "This means the court can take steps to protect information that they consider to be properly classified by the commissioner as criminal intelligence,'' Mr Smith said.

    The Attorney General noted that Western Australia and the Northern Territory had introduced similar legislation, but said more needed to be done on a national level. He said there were continuing discussions with other states and that he hoped the Prime Minister would soon take a more active role – just as the federal Justice Minister, Jason Clare, had done this week on gun crime. 

    "The recent shooting in South Australia emphasises that bikie gang crime knows no boundaries,'' Mr Smith said. "The NSW Government will continue to work with other states and territories to ensure these gangs have no place to hide in Australia."

    New guidelines strengthen club community support

    Monday 13 February,2012  [PDF,28kb]

    The NSW Government has published new guidelines which will enable registered clubs to provide an additional $90 million over four years to local communities across the State.

    Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Hospitality and Racing and Minister for the Arts, George Souris, said the guidelines implement the new ClubGRANTS scheme, delivering major benefits to the community, sporting, charitable, health and welfare sectors.

    “In August last year, Parliament passed legislation to provide registered clubs with much-needed relief from gaming machine tax hikes to strengthen their future viability and enable them to increase community support,” Mr Souris said.

    “The new ClubGRANTS scheme increases the tax rebate for registered clubs from 1.5 per cent to 1.85 per cent of gaming machine profits over $1 million for community development and support expenditure.

    “A new Statewide ClubGRANTS Fund has also been established which sees a further 0.4 per cent of a club’s gaming machine profit that would otherwise be paid in tax be used to fund large-scale sport, health and community infrastructure projects.

    “As part of these changes, new guidelines have been introduced to implement the many benefits of this scheme including:

    • Allowing clubs to claim contributions to professional sport (including leagues club contributions to the NRL) that are not player or coach payments;
    • Enabling funds to be directed towards a club’s core activities such as sport, golf course and bowling green maintenance, and RSL and veterans’ welfare;

    • Establishing a new ClubGRANTS Fund Committee comprising club and government officials to consider funding applications and monitor and evaluate grant expenditure; and
    • Permit clubs to claim a proportion of their gaming machine tax rebate for funds provided to assist victims of natural disasters within a year of the occurrence.

    “These new guidelines, which carry over many of the benefits of the former Community Development and Support Expenditure Scheme, allow clubs to use these funds for a greater range of purposes and benefits.

    “They also define the type of projects that could benefit from the new Statewide ClubGRANTS Fund including new or upgraded sporting fields and grandstands, community health centres, and facilities for youth, aged care, emergency services and parks and recreation.

    “The guidelines also ensure consideration is given to funding allocations for projects benefiting Indigenous, regional and remote, disadvantaged, and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

    “Registered clubs provide major social and economic benefits to local communities across the State including high-quality facilities and services, jobs and financial support for community and sporting groups.

    “These changes will continue the proud tradition of the club movement providing support for a wide range of community benefits.

    “The Liberals and Nationals are committed to ensuring the future viability of registered clubs to strengthen their valuable contribution to this State.”

    New laws to tackle drive-by shootings

    Issued: Monday, 13 February 2012
    [PDF, 329kb]


    The NSW Government will introduce tough new offences to combat organised crime in further support of police in their war on drive-by shootings, NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell announced today.

    "The NSW Government's package of reforms will make it harder for criminal gangs to engage in planned criminal activity by modernising consorting laws and significantly tightening the laws relating to the sale of ammunition," Mr O'Farrell said.

    "The new laws follow discussions with police on what further resources they need to target the criminals engaging in drive-by shootings – the package builds on the excellent work being undertaken by Operation Spartan and the NSW Crime Commission.

    "These new laws will be additional tools in the police armoury to help them protect innocent lives and bring those involved in criminal gangs behind drive-by shootings before the courts."

    Under legislation to be introduced to NSW Parliament this week, the new offences will include:

    • Knowingly benefiting from the activities of a criminal group (maximum jail term: 5 years);

    • Directing the activity of a criminal group (maximum jail term: 10 years);

    • Directing the activating of a criminal enterprise which is planned and organised (maximum jail term: 15 years); and

    • Firing at a dwelling-house as part of an organised criminal activity (maximum jail term: 16 years).

    The NSW Government will significantly tighten laws around the sale of ammunition to make it harder for ammunition to fall into the hands of criminals. Firearms laws will be amended to ensure licensed gun owners can only purchase ammunition for the firearms they own.

    "In addition to having to show a firearms licence or appropriate permit when purchasing ammunition, purchasers will also now have to demonstrate that they are the registered owner of a firearm that takes the ammunition they are purchasing," Minister for Police Mike Gallacher said.

    "This amendment is designed to make it harder for criminals to obtain ammunition for their criminal activities.

    "Firearms dealers will also be required to keep a record of all sales of ammunition."

    In a separate reform, the offence of consorting will be modernised to make it clear that consorting can occur in person or by any other means, including by email and other electronic forms.

    "Changes to the consorting laws will also extend to the penalties which will see the maximum term of imprisonment rise from 6 months to 3 years, a fine of $16,500, or both," Attorney General Greg Smith said.

    "The intention of the consorting offence is not to criminalise relationships between individuals, but to prevent people strengthening their ties with underworld gangs.

    "The offence will contain exemptions to protect relationships in specified circumstances such as training and professional relationships with legal and medical practitioners," Mr Smith said.

    The Ombudsman will be required to review the consorting offence after two years to ensure it is being used appropriately.

    Mr O'Farrell said this package of reforms will complement the great work already being undertaken by NSW Police with Operation Spartan and the NSW Crime Commission.

    "The NSW Government - working with police - will use every lever at its disposal to put pressure on those criminals engaging in drive-by shootings and planned criminal activity," Mr O'Farrell said.

    Since its launch in early January, Operation Spartan has been responsible for 68 arrests, resulting in 137 charges and the seizure of 16 firearms. Eight persons have been charged specifically in relation to the drive-by shootings including 5 for 'discharge of firearm' offences.


    Milton Court gets $300,000 facelift

    Issued: Thursday, 9 February 2012 
    [PDF, 168kb]

    The heritage-listed Milton Courthouse will receive a $300,000 facelift, the NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, announced today.

    "The Milton Courthouse has been operating since the late 1800s and this project will ensure it continues to serve the community well for many years to come," Mr Smith said.

    The project will include:

    •  replacement of the roof and guttering;

    • repainting the interior and exterior of the building;

    • a new courtroom air conditioning system;

    • repairs to the building fabric including stitching of settling cracks; and

    • new carpet.

    The courthouse will close tomorrow, with the repairs and refurbishment project expected to take 14 weeks.  During the construction period, Milton's court list and registry operations will be transferred to Nowra Courthouse.

    "The NSW Government is delighted to be preserving Milton Courthouse which is among the town's most significant historical landmarks," Mr Smith said.

    NSW Government helps Mt Druitt tackle graffiti

    Issued: Thursday 9 February 2012
    [PDF, 109kb]


    The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, and the Mayor of Blacktown City Council, Councillor Alan Pendleton, today opened improvements to the Mount Druitt Swimming Centre, which are designed to reduce graffiti vandalism. 

    "These improvements will make the area, which is frequently targeted by vandals, more resistant to graffiti and more appealing to the wider community," Mr Smith said.

    The NSW Government provided Blacktown City Council with funding to work with the local community and undertake a range of works at the Mt Druitt Swimming Centre.  

    The funding was provided as part of the 2010/11 Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design Graffiti Hotspot program. The purpose of CPTED Graffiti Hotspot program is to fund projects that are able to reduce the incidence of graffiti and improve the amenity of community assets.

    The works at the Mt Druitt Swimming Centre include the following:

    • Consultation workshops with local schools and community groups

    • Development of design mosaic in collaboration with local artists

    • Rendering and mosaic installation to façade of Mt Druitt Pool

    • Fencing work and green screening landscape works 

    In 2011/12 the NSW Government will allocate a total of almost $800,000 to councils across the State to help them reduce graffiti in hotspot areas by using proven CPTED principles.  

    Mr Smith said the program was part of the NSW Government's comprehensive anti-graffiti strategy.

    "Graffiti costs the community more than $100 million a year and combating this scourge is among the O'Farrell Government's highest priorities. 

    "The NSW Government is working with a range of community organisations such as Rotary Clubs to establish volunteer graffiti removal squads across the state.


    "With the support of local councils, the government will also hold its annual day for community action against graffiti," Mr Smith said.

    Floods close courts

    Issued: Wednesday, 8 February 2012

    Flood update: Lightning Ridge court will be closed on 8 February 2012.
    Wee Waa court will be closed on 9 February 2012.

    NSW a national leader in helping victims of crime

    Issued: Wednesday, 8 February 2012
    [PDF, 339kb]


    The Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today launched the Victims of Crime Clearinghouse - Australia's most comprehensive website for information about the needs of victims of crime.

    The online database contains summaries of all reports, which are divided into categories such as domestic violence, sexual assault, elder abuse and victims' rights.

    "The clearinghouse is a one-stop shop for research into victims of crime, containing more than 250 reports, conference papers and journal articles from Australia and around the world," Mr Smith said.

    "It will help guide government policy and be an invaluable point of reference for anyone providing frontline services to victims of crime, including psychologists, GPs, police and legal practitioners."

    The NSW Government will also provide up to $200,000 a year to support further research into the most effective methods of helping victims in their recovery.

    "The new funding program will focus on victims' issues, where there is little or no local research available," Mr Smith said.

    In 2012, funding will be provided for research into court support for victims of crime and the impact of media reporting on victims.

    The Chief Executive of Enough is Enough, Ken Marslew AM, said the clearinghouse and funding program would help improve services for victims of crime.

    "In years gone by, the complex psychological, physical and financial issues facing victims of crime were often overlooked or misunderstood," Mr Marslew said.

    "Service providers who are well informed about victims' needs will be better equipped to respond appropriately, with sensitivity and compassion."

    The clearinghouse website also has a Media Toolbox, containing resources to assist reporters covering cases involving victims of crime.

    For more on the clearinghouse, go to: www.victimsclearinghouse.nsw.gov.au.

    For more on research into victims: vs@justice.nsw.gov.au​ 

    Free legal help for flood victims

    Issued: Wednesday, 8 February 2012
    [PDF, 139kb]


    The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today reminded flood-affected residents across NSW that they can get free legal help with their insurance claims.

    Mr Smith urged these people to contact LawAccess NSW on 1300 888 529 or the closest Legal Aid NSW office in Dubbo (6885 4233) or Lismore (6621 2082).

    "This is a dreadful situation for residents in regional NSW whose homes and property are being damaged in the floods," Mr Smith said.

    "Anyone who needs help to understand their insurance policy or to make an insurance claim should take advantage of free legal information and advice."

    Flood victims are advised to take these steps:

    • Keep a record of flood damage - take photos and videos where possible.

    • Ask neighbours to witness the damage.

    • Carefully check the wording of their insurance policy and, if in doubt, obtain legal advice before speaking to claims assessors, who usually visit on site.

    • Make sure that premiums have been paid in full, or are up to date, before lodging any claim because premium shortfalls may affect payment.

    "Even if your policy does exclude flood it would likely cover other water-related damage such as rain and storms. These can be difficult legal issues and I urge residents if they have doubts about their policies to get free legal advice," Mr Smith said.

    Legal Aid NSW lawyers can provide free advice and assistance with:

    • insurance claims;

    • renegotiating credit commitments due to loss of income from the flood; and

    • issues for tenants where the property is seriously damaged from the flood.

    A fact sheet Storms, Floods, Insurance and you – a guide to getting your insurance claim paid can be downloaded from the Legal Aid NSW website www.legalaid.nsw.gov.au/publications.

    Statewide Survey to profile liquor industry

    Tuesday 7 February, 2012   [PDF,96kb]

    Every licensee in NSW is being quizzed about key aspects of their venue’s operation, their knowledge of licence conditions and participation in liquor accords and staff numbers as part of a State wide survey over the next two months.

    Minister for Hospitality, George Souris, said the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) will issue a State wide mail out to more than 16,900 licensees on Wednesday (February 8) as part of the survey to enhance compliance, enforcement and education initiatives.

    "Under the liquor laws it is a requirement for every licensed venue in NSW to lodge a liquor licence return with the department every two years to provide a range of information about the operation of their venue," Mr Souris said.

    "Pubs, registered clubs, nightclubs, restaurants, bottleshops and even wineries, licensed vessels and race tracks will lodge their liquor licence returns with OLGR by March 31.

    "This process provides a snapshot of the State’s liquor industry, ensures the continued accuracy of official licensing databases and informs compliance, enforcement and education initiatives.

    "The information we are gathering not only helps to update official records with basic information such as contact details, it will also provide a profile of the liquor industry to gauge its social and economic role, and help shape liquor-related policies and initiatives.

    "Licensees are asked to include information about their actual trading hours and how many people they employ including full-time, part-time and casual workers, as well as trainees and apprentices. The licence return also allows licensees to recognise the contribution of volunteers.

    "As part of the survey, licensees are asked if they have recently reviewed their licence conditions to enhance their understanding of trading requirements and improve compliance standards.

    "Licensees are also being asked to supply details of when their staff completed mandatory responsible service of alcohol training to assist with scheduling refresher training and replacing old paper certificates with new photo cards over the next five years.

    "Venues are also being requested to provide details about premises size and capacity and total patron numbers on their busiest trading day last year. This information will assist in planning targeted compliance initiatives and in administering the Three Strikes disciplinary scheme for rogue licensees which requires venue size and capacity to be considered when strike decisions are made.

    "The liquor licence return process also allows the Government to monitor licensee participation rates in local liquor accords and helps shape education and support initiatives under this program.

    "The biennial liquor licence return requirement strikes the right balance between the need to collect up-to-date regulatory information and minimise red tape faced by industry.

    "Licensees can complete their liquor licence return in about 15 minutes by using a convenient online lodgement system."

    Highlights of the first liquor licence return held in 2010:

    • The survey was sent to 15,546 licensees
    • 92% reported that the licence was currently trading
    • 4% reported an intention to resume trading within the next 12 months
    • 77% supplied an email address to facilitate communication with the regulator
    • 35% supplied a business web address
    • 13% reported abiding with one or more voluntary undertakings with a court, police or local council
    • 58% reported they were aware of their local liquor accord
    • 41% reported they were a member of their local liquor accord
    • 54,447 full-time workers employed
    • 29,190 part-time workers employed
    • 79,738 casual workers employed
    • 5,734 apprentices employed
    • 9,275 volunteers involved in licensed premises.


    Courthouse closures

    Issued: Thursday, 02 February 2012

    Due to flooding in Northern NSW, Moree and Maclean Courthouses are closed today, 2 February 2012 and tomorrow, 3 February 2012.

    New members for Harness Racing NSW

    Issued: Tuesday 31 January, 2012   [PDF,95kb]


    Minister for Racing, George Souris, today announced the appointment of new Members to Harness Racing NSW, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience to the industry.

    Mr Souris said the highly-experienced Members will play a pivotal role in ensuring the integrity and sustainability of harness racing across the State.

    "The appointment of the first independent Members to Harness Racing NSW represents a new era for the industry and sport," Mr Souris said.

    "The appointees bring a blend of existing corporate knowledge and passion for harness racing, combined with a strong injection of business and regulatory experience."

    The new Members and their terms are:

    • Rod Smith – four years
    • Alex Smith AM – four years
    • Graham Kelly – four years
    • Chris Edwards – three years
    • Graeme Campbell – two years.


    "The new team is the first appointed under the independent model – recognised as best practice governance and management – to ensure Members represent the best interests of the whole industry," Mr Souris said.

    "The appointments follow recommendations from an independent selection panel comprising Michael Foggo (Convenor), Brian Hancock and the Hon Michael Cleary AO and assisted by probity adviser Rory O’Connor from leading governance firm, O’Connor Marsden.

    "I wish the new Members every success in carrying out their important duties when they take up their positions on February 3.

    "I would like to thank the outgoing Harness Racing NSW Members Rex Horne, Rob Nalder and Les Bentley for their service to the harness racing industry."

    Members are appointed based on merit in accordance with the following prescribed skills criteria: experience in a senior administrative role or at a senior level in one or more of the fields of business, finance, law, marketing, technology, commerce, regulatory administration or regulatory enforcement.

    A person is ineligible for appointment if they are an employee of a club or member of the governing body of a club and a maximum tenure of eight years applies.

    Harness Racing NSW Members will elect a Chairperson at its first meeting.

    Media: Norm Lipson 0467 734 679

    HARNESS RACING NSW APPOINTEES

    Harness Racing NSW is the independent controlling body for harness racing in NSW. It is responsible for the strategic development of the industry as well as registering race clubs, allocating race dates and prize money, administering the Rules of Racing and licensing bookmakers, drivers, and trainers etc.

    Graeme John Campbell
    Current Chairman of HRNSW. More than 30 years of business experience in accounting and finance, and a former Director of Ferrier Hodgson, Chartered Accountants. Current Director of Central Coast Stadiums Pty Ltd, Ainsworth Gaming Technology Ltd and principal of a specialist consulting company founded to provide advice to the hotel and registered club industries.

    Christopher John Edwards
    Current member of HRNSW Board. Involved in the harness racing industry as a hobby owner, trainer, driver and local steward for more than 25 years. Former Committee Member, President and Vice President of the Dubbo Harness Racing Club, and current Vice President of the Dubbo Show Society.

    Graham John Kelly
    Former Chairman of TAB Limited, Sky Channel Limited and Centrebet International Ltd. Former Chairman or Director of several financial services companies, including the State Bank of NSW. Inaugural Inspector of the Independent Commission Against Corruption. Former Chairman, Managing Partner and Partner of Freehills, Solicitors.

    Alexander Stewart Smith AM
    Significant high level public sector experience, including former Deputy Director General of the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet and the NSW Premier’s Department. Made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2002 in recognition of his contribution to public administration in NSW.

    Rodney Graham Smith
    More than 21 years of experience in the corporate finance sector and business ownership in the motor retail sector. Breeding, racing and administrative involvement in the harness racing industry, with roles including former Treasurer of Bathurst Harness Racing Club and Vice President of the NSW Owners Association.


     

    Attorneys Mark Milestone in Law Courts Renovation

    Issued: Tuesday, 31 January 2012
    [PDF, 172kb]


    A major renovation of the Law Courts Building at Sydney's Queen's Square is nearing completion, with the new-look lobby to be officially opened today.

    NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, will join the Federal Attorney General, Nicola Roxon, and judicial heads of jurisdiction at a ceremony to mark the occasion.

    "This is a significant day for the Australian justice system, as the Law Courts Building is arguably the nation's most important court facility, accommodating the NSW Supreme Court, the Federal Court and the High Court," Mr Smith said.

    "The building is now more secure, more technologically advanced, more energy efficient and more accessible to people with a disability."

    Mr Smith said the exterior of the building remained virtually unchanged, but court users would notice substantial differences upon entering the lobby.

    "The interior was dark and dated but it is now filled with natural light, creating a more welcoming atmosphere," Mr Smith said.

    The renovations of floors occupied by the High Court and the Federal Court have been completed, while shared facilities such as lifts, air conditioning and the cells complex have been upgraded or replaced. There are also airport-style rolling screens for court lists, making it easier to check the location and status of a case

    Mr Smith said the renovations of the Supreme Court, which occupies most of the Law Courts Building, were continuing.

    "Twenty-four of the Supreme Court's 32 courtrooms have been comprehensively refurbished, while the remaining rooms are being upgraded in stages to minimise disruptions to proceedings," Mr Smith said.

    "The improvements to Supreme Court facilities include new audio-visual technology to make it easier to display evidence digitally and to receive testimony from witnesses in remote locations.  The courts are also being made more accessible, with people in a wheelchair now able to sit on juries."

    The NSW and Federal Governments are jointly funding the renovations of the Law Courts building.  The project is due for completion in 2013/14.

    NSW Coroner's Court is number one

    [PDF, 128kb]


    The Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today congratulated the Coroner's Court of NSW on increasing its case clearance rate and achieving the lowest backlog of any coronial jurisdiction in Australia.

    "Resolving coronial matters expeditiously reduces uncertainty and stress for grieving families and can help them to come to terms with the loss of a loved one," Mr Smith said.

    The Productivity Commission's Report on Government Services 2012 found the clearance rate of the Coroner's Court had risen from 97 per cent to almost 109 per cent in the 12 months to June 2011.


    "A clearance rate of more than 100 per cent indicates the Coroner's Court is finalising new cases efficiently and completing outstanding cases from previous years," Mr Smith said.

    "In the space of a year, the Coroner's Court of NSW has gone from having the nation's second worst clearance rate to having the second best clearance rate – and the lowest backlog."

    Mr Smith said the results indicated the Coroner's Court had adjusted well to the new Coroner's Act, which came into force at the beginning of 2010.

    "The Coroner's Act requires magistrates to deal with all cases reported to the coroner, whereas previously there was scope for the matters to be determined by a court registrar," Mr Smith said.

    "It is clear that the Coroner's Court in NSW is now managing its caseload more efficiently. The new Act prevents natural deaths from being unnecessarily reported to coroners, which enables them to focus more on deaths that are suspicious or unexplained."

    According to the Report on Government Services, the Local and Children's Courts of NSW continue to lead the nation in the timely finalisation of criminal matters.

    The NSW District Court has the second lowest backlog of criminal non-appeal cases older than 12 months, while the NSW Supreme Court's backlog of such cases is at its lowest level in four years.

     

     

    Back to school for juvenile offenders 

    [PDF,  96kb]


    The NSW Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Greg Smith SC, commended NSW Juvenile Justice staff and Department of Education and Communities teachers for their dedication to young people in custody, as detainees across NSW returned to school for the new school year.

    "Around 300 detainees will be enrolled in schools within the state's juvenile justice centres this week," Mr Smith said.

    "More than 1,800 young people were enrolled in education courses while in custody last year. One hundred and fifty nine detainees were enrolled in school certificate courses and 42 detainees in higher school certificates courses. 

    "Former detainees have continued their education and found employment, which is an excellent result for teachers and juvenile justice staff.


    "Detainees are not typical students, and are considered the most troubled teenagers in the state. They are often disengaged from school and many detainees have learning difficulties. 


    "The most recent survey of young people in custody revealed that more than half (65 per cent) left school before commencing Year 10, 60 per cent have not attended school regularly, and nearly 90 per cent have been suspended.

    "Staff work extremely hard to mentor young offenders on the benefits of education. They motivate detainees to have a positive attitude towards school, and explain that their active participation can reap rewards, from improved literacy and numeracy skills to potential employment when they return to the community.


    "I commend staff and teachers for reengaging detainees in education, and to the volunteers who visit the centres to assist in ongoing educational activities.

    "Education is essential to a young offender's rehabilitation in custody," Mr Smith said.

    Deputy DPP appointed District Court Judge 

    [PDF, 95kb]


    The Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today announced the appointment of David Arnott SC as a judge of the District Court of NSW.

    "Mr Arnott is one of the state's most senior and accomplished prosecutors, who has appeared in all criminal courts in NSW and in the High Court," Mr Smith said.

    "Since being appointed Senior Counsel in 2005, Mr Arnott has appeared in many complex appeal matters, including virtually every case in which a five-judge bench sat in the Court of Criminal Appeal."

    After studying law at the University of Sydney, Mr Arnott was admitted as a solicitor in 1977.  His career has included three years as a solicitor, 11 years at the private Bar and more than 20 years as a Crown Prosecutor.  Recently, he has served as a Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions and as Acting Crown Advocate.

    "While Mr Arnott is best known for his work in criminal proceedings, he also practised extensively in civil law throughout the 1980s," Mr Smith said.

    "The depth and diversity of his legal experience will be invaluable assets when he joins the bench of the District Court."

    Mr Arnott will be sworn in as a District Court judge on 13 February 2012.


    Two new magistrates for NSW

    [PDF, 98kb]


    The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today announced the appointments of solicitors Robert Stone and Peter Feather as magistrates of the Local Court of NSW.

    Mr Stone has been practising law for more than 34 years and has extensive litigation experience in criminal law, personal injury and commercial matters.

    While he has appeared in most courts in NSW, including the Supreme Court. the bulk of his work has been in Local and District Courts.

    After beginning his legal career in Sydney in 1973, Mr Stone moved to Wagga Wagga in 1982 and achieved partner status at a law firm within three years of his arrival.

    Prior to his appointment as a magistrate, Mr Stone was Chairman of Directors of Commins Hendriks, one of the largest inland legal practices in NSW.  He has acted for a range of clients, including corporations, government agencies and private individuals. Mr Stone is also an accredited mediator.

    Mr Feather has worked as a solicitor for the past 15 years.   He became a partner at Humphreys & Corish Solicitors (now known as Humphreys and Feather) in 2001 – a position he held until his appointment as a magistrate.

    He has appeared in most NSW courts, practising mainly in family, criminal and civil law.

    Mr Feather began his career as a police officer in 1987 and was accepted into the Police Prosecution Branch within two years.   At the age of 21, he became one of the youngest police prosecutors in NSW history.

    Mr Feather also worked for a specialist unit within the Police Force, prosecuting police in the Police Tribunal in the District Court in the early stages of the Wood Royal Commission.

    "I congratulate Mr Stone and Mr Feather on their appointments and look forward to their contributions to the NSW justice system," Mr Smith said.

    Mr Stone and Mr Feather will be sworn in as magistrates on 26 March 2012.

     

    Locals win contract to build $15M Armidale court

    Issued: Tuesday, 17 January 2012
    [PDF, 238kb]


    An Armidale firm has won the contract to build the city's $15 million courthouse, NSW Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today.

    Mr Smith said National Buildplan Group – an organisation that began in Armidale and has grown into an Australia-wide operation – will begin work on the three-storey courthouse later this month.

    "This is a win-win for Armidale. The project will create jobs locally and deliver a secure courthouse that will be large enough to meet the city's needs for decades to come," Mr Smith said.

    The 1750m² building on Moore Street will include a trial court capable of accommodating up to 15 jurors and a local court with a fully glazed secure dock for prisoners. A multi-purpose room will be available for use as a callover court or jury assembly room.


    For the first time, people with a disability will be able to serve on jury trials in Armidale.

    "The jury box and two deliberation rooms will feature accessible facilities for people with limited mobility, including people using a wheelchair," Mr Smith said.

    "During breaks and deliberations, jurors will also have access to a kitchenette and a private courtyard."

    Mr Smith said the new courthouse would provide comfortable facilities for victims of crime.

    "Victims of domestic violence will be able to wait in a safe room that has direct access to the Local Court, rather than in a public area where they would be at risk of crossing paths with defendants," Mr Smith said.

    "Sexual assault victims will also be able to avoid contact with their alleged attacker, by giving 'in camera' evidence from a remote witness room."

    Other features of the new courthouse include:

    • a state-of-the-art registry, featuring a computer kiosk to enable court users to access legal resources on the internet;

    • ten interview rooms for the legal profession, including three non-contact rooms for discussions with potentially dangerous prisoners;

    • a video conferencing room for the legal profession and other agencies;

    • facilities for the Aboriginal Community Justice Group and Circle Sentencing program;

    • four offices for various agencies involved in court processes; and

    • a secure car park for judicial officers and departmental vehicles.

    The new courthouse will be located next to Armidale Police Station on Moore Street. Mr Smith said prisoners would be transferred between the buildings via a secure passageway, reducing the risk of escapes.

    "From a security perspective, the new location is far superior to the site of the existing courthouse which is situated in a mall," Mr Smith said.

    The project should be completed by early 2013.

    Two new magistrates for NSW

    Issued: Monday, 16 January 2012
    [PDF, 98kb]


    The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today announced the appointment of barrister Michael Barko and senior solicitor Karen Stafford as magistrates of the Local Court of NSW.


    Since they began practising law 23 years ago, Mr Barko and Ms Stafford have primarily appeared in matters before the Local Court.

    Mr Barko worked as an associate for a District Court judge from 1987 until 1988 when he began practising as a barrister in criminal and civil law.

    He has appeared in the Local Court in almost all of the state's major cities and over a vast portion of country NSW. Mr Barko has also appeared in almost every other jurisdiction in NSW.

    Outside of his court practice, Mr Barko has provided legal services to the Sydney Roosters and the Randwick Rugby Club. He has also provided regular legal commentary on a Sydney radio program.

    Ms Stafford spent her early years as a solicitor working on civil matters, before joining the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) in 1991.

    Over the past 14 years, Ms Stafford has had sole carriage of many serious matters from the time they were referred to the ODPP through to committal hearing, summary hearing or sentence.

    Ms Stafford was involved in the prosecution of convicted murderer Arthur "Neddy" Smith from 1994 until 2000.

    She has also appeared in matters before the Supreme, District, Local, and Children's Courts.

    Mr Barko and Ms Stafford will be sworn in as magistrates on 13 February 2012.

    "I congratulate Mr Barko and Ms Stafford on their appointments and look forward to their contributions to the best performing Local Court in Australia," Mr Smith said.

     

     

     

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