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Wednesday 14 December,2011 [PDF,190kb]
Minister for Racing, George Souris, has announced the appointment of members to Racing NSW following the proclamation today of the amendments to the Thoroughbred Racing Act 1996.
"The new team is of a very high standard and I am most pleased with the breadth and range of skills and experience it brings, including that of the Hon. Kevin Greene who speaks for the race-going public," Mr Souris said.
The new members and their terms are:
"The Selection Panel, comprising retired magistrate Mr David Armati (Convenor), the Hon. Paul Whelan and the Hon John Fahey AO, assessed the candidates on merit and in terms of the prescribed skills criteria as required by the selection provisions in the Thoroughbred Racing Act 1996 (as amended).
They also assessed applicants in terms of the provisions in the Act relating to potential conflicts of interest and whether those matters could be managed or were incompatible with membership of Racing NSW.
After taking those matters into account, the Selection Panel made recommendations in the form which I asked that they provide - that is a list of seven people for membership. This included their respective terms of office and a reserve list of two in case a person from the recommended list became unavailable.
The Panel also provided a recommended list of two and a reserve for the office of Chair and Deputy Chair.
"I have accepted those recommendations without reservation," Mr Souris said.
"The external probity advisers, O’Connor Marsden, have reported that there were no adverse matters regarding the conduct of the selection process," Mr Souris said.
"I would like to thank the outgoing Racing NSW members Mr Alan Bell, Ms Kim Harding and Mr Arthur Inglis for their service to the racing industry."
The appointments and the enabling legislation will commence on 19 December, 2011.
RACING NSW APPOINTEES
Racing NSW is the independent controlling body for thoroughbred racing in NSW. Its main responsibilities are oversighting the strategic development of the industry. It is also responsible for registering race clubs, allocating race dates and prize money, administering the Rules of Racing and licensing bookmakers, jockeys, trainers etc.
John Maurice MESSARA AM
Certified Public Accountant Chairman, Aushorse Marketing (industry marketing group) 2001 – 2008. President, Thoroughbred Breeders Australia Ltd 2007 – 2008. Since 1985 has established and managed leading Australian owned thoroughbred racing and breeding operation – Arrowfield Group Limited. Awarded Member of the Order of Australia in 2008 for service to the thoroughbred horseracing industry, particularly through the introduction of best practice initiatives in the areas of reproduction and stud management.
Ms Naseema SPARKS
Current Managing Director, Y&R Group Sydney Director, Blackmores Ltd; Director, PMP Ltd; Director, Sydney Dance Company. Past President of Chief Executive Women GAICD and former Director of Racing Victoria Ltd.
Kenneth Maxwell (Ken) BROWN AM
Part-time Member of Casino, Liquor & Gaming Control Authority. Former Vice-President Australian Paralympic Committee, former Director-General Dept Gaming & Racing, former Director-General Dept Sport, Recreation & Racing, former Director Liquor & Gaming, former Board Member Australian Tourism Commission, former Board Member Totalizator Agency Board (NSW), former Member NSW Racecourse Development Committee, and former Member Racing NSW. Awarded the Australian Sports Medal in 2000 for services to the Paralympic movement. Awarded Member of the Order of Australia in 2001 for service to the development of public sector policies and infrastructure programmes in the areas of tourism, sport and recreation, the hospitality industry and racing in NSW.
Russell BALDING AO
Currently Chairman of the Visitor Economy Taskforce and Deputy Chairman of Destination NSW. Non-Executive Director of Cabcharge Australia limited. Former Chief Executive Officer of the Sydney Airport Corporation, former Managing Director of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and former Director of Finance at the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority. Awarded Officer of the Order of Australia in 2007 for service to the Australian broadcasting industry, particularly through initiatives in the areas of service delivery, advanced technology and financial management, and to the accounting profession through CPA Australia.
Alan Francis BROWN
Solicitor. Former Chairman - Sydney Turf Club, former Chairman and Deputy Chairman of Racing NSW, Principal Director of the Australian Racing Board, Chairman of RacingCorp Pty Limited, Chairman of the Australian Pattern Committee, Chairman of Moss Capital Funds Management Ltd.
The Honourable Kevin Patrick GREENE
Current Director of the Catholic Education Foundation. Former School Principal. Former member for Georges River and Member for Oatley in the NSW Legislative Assembly. Former Minister for Community services (2007 – 2008) and former Minister for Gaming and Racing, Minister for Sport and Recreation, and Minister for Major Events (2008 – 2011).
Tony George HODGSON AM
Certified Practising Accountant with a Specialist Designation in Insolvency and Reconstruction. Fellow of the Australian Institute of Chartered Accountants and Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Retired Senior Partner of Ferrier Hodgson, specialist corporate recovery and insolvency management group. Currently a member of the Advisory council of JP Morgan Chase. Awarded Member of the Order of Australian in 2008 for service to business, particularly through a range of executive roles in the finance sector, to the promotion and development of Rugby Union football, and to the horse racing industry.
Issued Thursday 8 December 2011. [PDF, 99kb]
The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today announced the appointments of a Judge of Appeal, two Supreme Court Judges and a Commissioner of the Land and Environment Court. Justice Reginald Barrett has been elevated to the Court of Appeal, barristers Geoffrey Bellew SC and James Stevenson SC will join the bench of the Supreme Court, while architect Susan O'Neill will serve as a full time Commissioner of the Land and Environment Court. Justice Barrett has sat on the bench of the Supreme Court for 10 years. Prior to taking public office, he worked as a solicitor for 34 years and attained the position of partner at Allen Allen & Hemsley and Mallesons Stephen Jaques. "In private practice, Justice Barrett was one of Australia's finest corporate and securities lawyers and his professional reputation has only been enhanced since he became a Judge of the Supreme Court," Mr Smith said. Justice Barrett will begin serving as a Judge of Appeal on 25 January 2012. Geoffrey Bellew SC was admitted to the Bar in 1991 and was appointed Senior Counsel in 2006. His practice has been divided between the criminal and civil jurisdictions. "Mr Bellew has appeared on behalf of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions in matters involving drug importation, revenue fraud, people smuggling and in a number of landmark terrorism cases," Mr Smith said. Mr Bellew is also a former Director of the National Rugby League Limited and has appeared on behalf of footballers, jockeys and Olympic athletes before disciplinary hearings as well as before the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Mr Bellew will be sworn in as a Supreme Court Judge on 31 January 2012. James Stevenson SC was called to the Bar in 1989 after working as a solicitor for 15 years. He was appointed Senior Counsel in 2003. "Mr Stevenson has practised widely in the Equity Division of the Supreme Court and in the Federal Court," Mr Smith said. "He has also appeared at the Inquiry into the Glenbrook Train Disaster, at the Royal Commission into the collapse of HIH, at an Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry into Sydney Water and in subsequent litigation for Sydney Water." Mr Stevenson will be sworn in as a Supreme Court Judge on 1 February 2012. Susan O'Neill has 21 years' experience in architecture, working primarily as a heritage consultant. In recent years, she has been an associate at Godden Mackay Logan Heritage Consultants and has worked as Strategic Heritage Officer for Woollahra Municipal Council. "The Land and Environment Court will benefit from Ms O'Neill's significant expertise in the designing, planning and construction of buildings and her comprehensive understanding of heritage issues," Mr Smith said. Ms O'Neill will begin a seven-year term as a full-time Commissioner of the Land and Environment Court on 30 January 2012.
Issued: Thursday 8 December 2011 [PDF, 94kb]
The NSW Government is expanding a program that gives Aboriginal people greater input into decisions about the care of children at risk.
The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, will today join the President of the Children's Court, Judge Mark Marien SC, and Community Services Chief Executive, Anne Campbell, to launch the Care Circle program in Lismore. "Conducted in an informal setting outside of court, Care Circles enable Aboriginal families and community leaders to meet with all parties involved in a case to develop a plan for the safety and wellbeing of the child," Mr Smith said. "This may include discussions about placement options, contact arrangements and the support services that should be made available to families," he said. Judge Marien said Care Circles provide a unique and important opportunity for considerations of Aboriginal culture and identity to be taken into account. "Facilitated by a specialist Children's Court magistrate, Care Circles encourage frank and open discussions and allow for increased participation in decision-making about Aboriginal children by Aboriginal families and communities," Judge Marien said. "Decisions made about the future of Aboriginal children in the setting of a Care Circle are therefore more likely to result in better outcomes for those children," he said. Ms Campbell said conventional care proceedings conducted in court can be intimidating, overwhelming and stressful for participants. "Aboriginal families can sometimes feel vulnerable and alienated by court processes. Many families still live with the legacy of the Stolen Generations which can lead to fear and mistrust of government," Ms Campbell said. Ms Campbell said Care Circles were an important initiative for Aboriginal families in care matters. "We want to empower Aboriginal families and communities by reducing the barriers that prevent Aboriginal people participating in care proceedings," Ms Campbell said. The Care Circles program began in Nowra in 2008 and is being expanded to Lismore following a positive independent evaluation. "The Cultural and Indigenous Research Centre Australia found higher levels of satisfaction and acceptance of decisions relating to the care of Aboriginal children," Mr Smith said. "Many Aboriginal families felt Care Circles provided opportunities for involvement in decision making that were not available in conventional court proceedings," he said. All plans developed in a Care Circle must be put before a magistrate for approval.
Issued: Thursday 01 December 2011 [PDF, 7kb]
With summer upon us, the need for pool safety is vital as children take to the water to cool down. I urge pool owners to undertake a safety inspection of their facilities and make sure pool fences and gates are secure and compliant with the law. Many pool owners mistakenly assume a fence will keep out young children and don't take into account such things as faulty locks, climbable objects near the pool fence or changes to the surface height of lawns or gardens over time. Don't become complacent about pool safety just because you have a fence. Small children can move much faster than you expect. The most thorough pool safety inspection will never fully eliminate the chances of drowning or serious injury. Always keep an eye on children near a pool, close the pool gate and keep the fence maintained. As NSW State Coroner, I witness all too regularly the terrible trauma families face when there is an avoidable and needless death of a child who has drowned in a backyard pool. In 2010, 14 children drowned in New South Wales. Many of these drownings were in pools and avoidable. Spend a little time to save a little life: check your pool fence and gate is secure and make sure you know where your toddlers are at all times. 1 December 2011
Wednesday 23 November 2011 [PDF,56kb]
Licensees across NSW are being urged to review their operations to reduce the risk of committing liquor offences over the busy summer period, with the NSW Government’s Three Strikes and You’re Out scheme coming in to force on New Year’s Day.
Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Hospitality, Racing and the Arts, George Souris, today announced the starting date for the strict new scheme which imposes some of the toughest ever sanctions on irresponsible pubs, clubs and bottleshops.
Mr Souris said NSW Trade and Investment Director General Mark Paterson is writing to every licensee in NSW serving notice of the January 1 start and urging them to take action now to avoid offences and strikes.
“More than 22,000 licensees and approved managers will receive letters and a detailed fact sheet outlining precisely how the scheme will operate including over 2,100 pubs, 1,400 registered clubs, 7,800 restaurants, nightclubs and other entertainment venues, and 2,000 bottleshops,” he said.
“While most licensees do the right thing, this scheme is about weeding out rogude operators who wilfully or knowingly commit serious liquor offences and continually put the safety of patrons and the broader community at risk.
“It is paramount that all licensees understand the potential consequences of this new scheme: three convictions for serious liquor offences can result in three strikes and loss of your liquor licence.
“Licensees are put on notice that now is the time to review their business practices and alcohol and security management plans to reduce the risk of incidents that can lead to liquor offences and strikes being incurred.
“Venues have the opportunity to change their operations to avoid severe sanctions including the loss of licence by proactively managing any risks with measures such as a higher level of security, better monitoring of patron service and consumption, and more vigilance in refusal of service of alcohol to identified patrons.
“Holding a liquor licence is a big privilege and responsibility and if you abuse it you could soon lose it.
“The new scheme will start immediately after midnight on New Year’s Eve in time for the busy summer holiday period.
“Patrons are also on notice that police will be targeting those who think it is acceptable to drink to excess and engage in violent and anti-social behaviour.
“Anyone refusing to leave a venue when requested by staff, or attempting to re-enter or remaining in the vicinity once ejected, will cop a $550 on-the-spot fine.
“Police will also be using strengthened move on powers to target intoxicated individuals. Those who engage in disorderly conduct in any public place after being given a move on direction by police are committing an offence, with fines of up to $660.
“The Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) is currently implementing systems and procedures to ensure the Three Strikes and You’re Out scheme operates fairly and effectively.
“This includes changes to the State’s liquor licensing database, development of a public registry of strikes against licensed venues and effective protocols between OLGR, NSW Police and the Attorney-General’s Department to ensure the currency and accuracy of convictions used in the scheme.
“OLGR is also available to provide licensees with expert advice and assistance in improving alcohol and security management before the scheme starts.
“Licensed venues putting in place strategies to prevent violence, intoxication, underage drinking and illicit drug use on premises will avoid offences and strikes.
“Those choosing to continue to operate irresponsibly and with disregard for the liquor laws will be caught by this scheme.
“Upon conviction of a serious liquor offence the first strike is automatic and the licensee will be on a path which could lead to the ultimate sanction of licence cancellation if they don’t lift their game.
“A second and third strike can be incurred upon further offence convictions within three years.
“Offences include permitting intoxication, violent behaviour and illicit drug use on the premises, supplying alcohol to a minor or an intoxicated patron, selling alcohol outside authorised trading hours, failing to comply with an official direction, non compliance with a closure order and breaching key licence conditions.
“A third strike can result in licence suspension for up to a year, licence cancellation, a moratorium on a new liquor licence being granted to the venue operators for up to 12 months, or disqualification of a licensee for any period of time.
“In the case of a registered club a third strike can result in disqualification of a club secretary, dismissal of any or all of the club directors, or the appointment of an administrator to manage the club.”
Tuesday 22 November, 2011 [PDF,49kb]
The NSW Government today took decisive action to ban licensed venues from serving alcohol in mini buckets.
Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Hospitality, Racing and the Arts, George Souris, said a Sydney hotel has been ordered to stop the disturbing practice immediately following compelling new evidence from NSW Police.
“The Director General of NSW Trade and Investment today issued an official direction under the Liquor Act ordering the Scary Canary Hotel in Kent Street from serving alcohol in mini buckets,” Mr Souris said.
“It follows covert operations by police at the hotel and a new submission to the Director General seeking the direction to ban the practice.
“The police submission, which includes video footage, details bar staff pouring alcohol haphazardly into buckets in amounts that exceed a standard nip measurement. Soft drinks and high energy drinks are also dispensed without the use of a standardmeasure.
“According to the decision published by the Casino, Liquor and Gaming Control Authority in which it overturned a previous banning direction issued by the Director General to the hotel, the licensee provided undertakings regarding its practice ofmeasuring the alcoholic and non-alcoholic content into the mini buckets. The venue assured the Authority that the buckets contained no more than two standard nips and were equivalent to 1.5 standard drinks.
“This new evidence demonstrates that these undertakings are being disregarded by the licensee.
“Police also produced evidence linking the consumption of alcohol from buckets and intoxication and alcohol-related offences.
“This type of reckless behaviour is of concern and brings into question a licensed venue’s commitment to ensure the responsible service of alcohol. It is clearly not consistent with community expectations.
“Patrons must have some certainty as to the amount of alcohol they are consuming. Clearly if patrons are consuming unknown quantities of alcohol from a bucket it will lead to unacceptable levels of intoxication and the potential associated impacts such as violence and anti-social behaviour.
“The hotel faces fines of up to $5,500 if it fails to comply with the official direction to cease the sale and supply of alcohol in buckets immediately.”
Mr Souris said he has also requested the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) to examine every option to prohibit the disturbing practice in venues across the State.
“OLGR is currently investigating a proposed code specifically prohibiting the serving of alcohol in mini buckets because of the potential for it to encourage rapid or excessive consumption and the increased risk of drink spiking,” he said.
“It is examining if the proposed code could be enforced as a condition on all liquor licences in the State. Any venue breaching licence conditions faces a penalty of up to $11,000 and 12 months imprisonment.
“I have also asked OLGR to examine the use of non standard and novelty drinkware and the combination of high energy drinks and alcohol in its review of the department’s official liquor promotion guidelines which outline acceptable and non acceptable alcohol practices in licensed venues.
“I want to ensure that any irresponsible alcohol promotions which lead to intoxication and alcohol-related violence and anti-social behaviour are banned.”
Issued: Monday 21 November 2011
Former NRL star, Nathan Blacklock and domestic violence survivor, Lani Brennan have a message for Aboriginal people in the Hunter: Koori love shouldn't hurt. The two high profile campaigners against domestic violence will be guest speakers at a forum for Aboriginal community members and workers at Cameron Park on December 6. The Aboriginal Community Justice Groups of Toronto and Newcastle are holding the forum as part of the annual 16 Days of Activism to Stop Violence Against Women. "We need to put an end to the silence surrounding violence in Aboriginal homes," said Aboriginal Community Justice Group Coordinator, Anita Barker. "Victims must be able to speak out without fear or shame and perpetrators need to take responsibility for their actions." Lani Brennan will provide the forum with a first hand account of the devastating impact of domestic violence and will explain how victims can escape the cycle of abuse. "Lani is an inspiration to all victims of domestic violence – her quest for justice resulted in her former partner receiving a lengthy jail sentence and her story was recently the subject of an SBS documentary," Ms Barker said. Nathan Blacklock is an ambassador for the Tackling Violence program, an anti-domestic violence campaign initiated by the NSW Government in partnership with rugby league bodies. "It is important to have strong male role models, such as Nathan, who can re-enforce the message that domestic violence has no place in our culture," Ms Baker said. Two men from the Hunter community who were past perpetrators of domestic violence will also share their stories about the changes they have made in their lives. The forum, Koori Love Shouldn't Hurt, will be held at 107 Northlakes Drive, Cameron Park on December 6 from 9:30am - 3:15pm. For more information about White Ribbon Day and the 16 Days of Activism, visit: www.whiteribbon.org.au
Issued: Thursday 17 November 2011 [PDF, 148kb]
The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today praised the State's longest-serving judge, John O'Meally AM RFD, for his exceptional service to victims of asbestos-related diseases over 32 years on the bench. Judge O'Meally will retire as the President of the Dust Diseases Tribunal today following a ceremonial sitting of the Tribunal at John Maddison Tower in Sydney's CBD. "Since hearing the Dust Diseases Tribunal's first case in 1989, Judge O'Meally has determined the compensation claims of many people who contracted mesothelioma and other deadly dust-related conditions," Mr Smith said. "Prior to the creation of the Tribunal, sufferers of asbestos diseases frequently died before their case was heard, but urgent compensation claims are now routinely fast tracked," he said. Mr Smith said Judge O'Meally's determination to finalise the compensation claim of social justice campaigner Bernie Banton prior to his death in 2007 was just one example of his dedication to his role. "Judge O'Meally took evidence from a critically ill Mr Banton at his bedside and vowed to sit in court until 10pm on consecutive nights in order to reach a conclusion," Mr Smith said. It is not uncommon for a Tribunal judge to travel to a plaintiff's bedside at a home, hospital or hospice to take evidence. The Tribunal will sit at any hour of the day or night on any day of the week. Judge O'Meally has been President of the Dust Diseases Tribunal since 1998. During a legal career that has spanned almost half a century, he has also served as an Acting Judge of the Supreme Court and as a Judge of the Compensation Court of NSW, the Workers Compensation Commission of NSW, the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court and the High Court of Antigua and Barbuda. "Judge O'Meally was renowned for his fairness and compassion,'' Mr Smith said. "I wish him well in his retirement and thank him for his significant contribution to the NSW justice system. " The retirement of Judge O'Meally coincides with the completion of new facilities for the Dust Diseases Tribunal at John Maddison Tower.
The Tribunal is now equipped with more advanced audio-visual facilities than any civil court in NSW. The technology will enable:
digital recording of witness testimony (including evidence given via videoconferencing from a remote location);
high definition displays of X-rays and MRI scans; and
lap top computers to be connected to the Tribunal's audio-visual system to display electronic evidence.
"Judges, witnesses and legal representatives will be able to view exhibits simultaneously on the large monitors within each court, which will save time and lead to smoother hearings," Mr Smith said. Infra-red hearing aid technology has been installed in all of the Tribunal's courtrooms. Three courtrooms also feature an oversized witness box to enable two expert witnesses to take the stand at the same time to discuss evidence and narrow issues in dispute. The development of a new headquarters for the Dust Diseases Tribunal is part of a redevelopment of John Maddison Tower and the Downing Centre that is expected to cost a total of $26.5 million over five years.
Thursday, 17 November 2011 [PDF,53kb]
School leavers, aka Schoolies, are being advised to party smart to avoid trouble and ensure everybody enjoys safe end-of-school celebrations.
Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Hospitality, Racing and the Arts, George Souris, said thousands of school leavers will be flocking to popular tourist spots along the
NSW coast including Kingscliff, Byron Bay, Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie to celebrate finishing school.
“After 13 years at school, we all understand that the class of 2011 wants to celebrate this milestone in their lives,” Mr Souris said.
“And what better location than one of our fantastic beachside towns on the picturesque NSW North Coast.
“While Schoolies deserve to have a good time they must behave responsibly and be mindful of the impact their actions can have on the people around them. Nobody wants to see these celebrations ruined by alcohol-related incidents especially thoseresulting in injuries.
“Schoolies must realise that their rite of passage into licensed venues comes with responsibilities.
“It is against the law to be drunk on licensed premises. If you are asked to leave by a staff member you must comply or police will be called and you will be issued with a $550 on-the-spot fine.
“Drinking responsibly means you can stay longer and enjoy a full night out with your mates. Drinking to excess only increases the risk of getting into trouble or worse getting hurt.”
Mr Souris warned minors not to attempt to get into pubs and clubs or buy alcohol from bottleshops.
He said the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing and NSW Police are staging operations in and around licensed venues in several NSW locations.
“NSW licensed venues have strict ID checking procedures to detect fake or altered
IDs and even those who borrow ID from an older friend or family member.
“My message to minors during Schoolies Week: don’t try to get into pubs and clubs or buy alcohol from bottleshops because you will be caught and there are significant penalties.
“If you’re underage and caught unlawfully inside licensed venues or buying alcohol from a licensed venue you can cop a fine of up to $2,200. And you could even risk spending an additional six months on your P-plates if you use fake ID.
“Licensees who allow underage drinkers on their premises face a maximum penalty of $11,000 and 12 months in jail.
“And any adult supplying alcohol to a minor should also be on notice that you are in our sights. Supplying alcohol to a minor is a serious crime and can lead to fines of up to $11,000 and 12 months imprisonment.”
Mr Souris said OLGR officers attended a Byron Bay Liquor Accord meeting last month to help local licensed venues prepare for the challenges of Schoolies Week including introducing strategies to reduce the risk of minors getting into their premises.
Issued: Thursday 17 November 2011 [PDF, 153kb]
The NSW Government is leading the way in a national crackdown on criminals changing their names to avoid detection, which will include an alert list for high-risk offenders. The Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, said he hoped State and Territory Ministers would to agree to a 10-point plan developed by NSW when they gather in Launceston today ahead of a meeting of the Standing Council on Law and Justice. Mr Smith said NSW was asked to report on ways of ensuring all jurisdictions had robust laws and processes in place, so there was no weak link that could be exploited by criminals and name-change information could be obtained in a timely manner. There will also be a National Proof of Identity Framework and an electronic document verification system so registries that look after births deaths and marriages (BDMs) can verify people's identity, and that they are not using illegal documents. "Unfortunately some people change their name to conceal a criminal record, avoid detection by police, facilitate the commission of a crime or to simply create multiple identities,'' Mr Smith said. "This abuse of the system is a risk to the safety of the community and the police. "The danger is heightened when you are talking about those convicted of serious crimes, such as pedophiles, moving interstate to escape detection and unleash their misery on unfortunate victims." Mr Smith said that under the strategy; - All serious sex offenders must obtain approval before changing their name; - Police will be asked to provide an alert list for high-risk individuals to BDMs; - Prisoners and parolees will have to obtain approval and their supervising authorities will notify BDMs of the change; and - People can only change their name three times in a lifetime. The Attorneys General are gathering in Launceston today, where there will be discussion between the State Attorneys General ahead of the Council meeting on Friday. Mr Smith said NSW already had most of the 10-point plan in place and was looking to implement two parts of the new framework – the alert list for high-risk individuals and the requirement for prisoners to obtain approval. "Inconsistencies between jurisdictions allow people to forum shop and find the place with the weakest safeguards,'' Mr Smith said. "This heightens the need for harmonisation in this area and these changes should go a long way to eliminating abuses of the system."
Issued: Tuesday 15 November 2011
The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today launched a new resource to help victims of crime cope with being in the spotlight in the aftermath of a traumatic event. The Guide to the Media for Victims of Crime was developed in consultation with victims of crime, support groups, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and media representatives. "The guide provides victims with practical information about the benefits and risks of publicly discussing their case so they can make informed decisions about how they interact with the media," Mr Smith said. "The media gives victims of crime a voice in the community and can be extremely effective in helping them campaign for legal and policy reform, however some victims can be overwhelmed by the sudden attention." Mr Smith was joined at the launch today by Detective Chief Superintendent Peter Cotter of the NSW Police, Mary Cusumano (widow of murdered computer shop owner Angelo Cusumano), Homicide Victims Support Group executive director Martha Jabour and broadcaster Ray Hadley OAM. Ms Jabour told Mr Hadley there had been a lack of material to explain media processes to victims of crime. "People are often extremely vulnerable after a crime has been committed against them and intense public scrutiny can be confusing, intimidating and detrimental to their recovery if they are unprepared for the experience," Ms Jabour said. "This resource offers victims of crime useful information about their rights, privacy issues and who they can contact if they need support or wish to make a complaint." A new contact card for the media is also available, which contains details of victims' support groups and counselling services. The card will assist media in directing victims to relevant support services. The resources are part of the Respectful Reporting: Victims of Violent Crime Media Strategy, which has been developed by the Victims Services unit of the Department of Attorney General and Justice. "The strategy focuses on working with the media to support victims of crime and minimise the potential for any additional trauma," Mr Smith said. Mary Cusumano said she suffered as a result of invasive and disrespectful media attention when her husband was killed in 1995. "Shortly after my husband was killed, a photographer caused me great distress by jumping over my fence to take a photo of me inside my house with my young children," Mrs Cusumano said. "Since then, I have had mostly positive experiences with the media. It was the courteous and empathetic journalists who ended up with the best stories, because they had earned my trust."
Detective Chief Superintendent Cotter said police worked closely with victims and could help ensure their voices were heard. Mr Smith said the respectful reporting strategy could be adopted nationwide, with the issue now on the agenda of the National Justice CEOs Group. "Guidelines for reporting on victims of crime could be incorporated into media codes of ethics, taught at universities and utilised in the training of cadet reporters," he said. The guide is also available at www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/vs View the launch of the Guide to Media for Victims of Crime (link opens in new window).
Thursday 10 November, 2011 [PDF,135kb]
Licensees repeatedly found guilty of serious liquor offences are on notice that their licence is at risk following the passing of key legislation by Parliament to introduce the NSW Government’s Three Strikes and You’re Out scheme.
Minister for Tourism and Major Events, Hospitality, Racing and the Arts, George Souris, said the Upper House last night passed the final stage of the Liquor Amendment (3 Strikes) Bill 2011 which imposes some of the toughest ever sanctions on irresponsible pubs, clubs, liquor stores and night clubs that continually putting the safety of patrons and the broader community at risk.
"This strict new scheme targets those licensees wilfully or knowingly committing serious offences and is the centrepiece of the Liberals and Nationals’ election commitments to reduce alcohol-related violence and anti-social behaviour. We have delivered on this significant promise," Mr Souris said.
"The Government will now take action to implement this scheme as soon as possible.
"All licensed premises need to understand the potential consequences of this policy and the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing will make it clear to venues what sort of offences are captured by the scheme and when and how strikes are imposed.
"Upon conviction the first strike is automatic and the licensee will be on a path which could lead to the ultimate sanction of licence cancellation if they don’t lift their game.
"Following extensive consultation and revision of the original draft Bill, we are confident that we have struck the right balance with this policy to ensure it targets rogue operators and does not adversely impact on responsible licensees.
"A venue will incur a first strike upon being convicted of one of a range of serious liquor offences, including knowingly permitting intoxication, violence and illicit drugs on the premises, supplying alcohol to a minor and breaching key liquor licence conditions.
"A second and third strike can be incurred upon further serious offence convictions within three years.
"A third strike can result in licence suspension for up to a year, licence cancellation and a moratorium on a new liquor licence being granted to the venue for up to 12 months, or disqualification of a licensee for any period of time.
"In the case of a registered club a third strike can result in disqualification of a club secretary, dismissal of any or all of the club directors or the appointment of an Administrator to take over the management of the club.
"Venue size and capacity, change of licensee and business practices, compliance and incident history, and crime statistics will be taken into account.
"To provide escalating penalties and restrictions, conditions will be imposed on licensed venues in response to the behaviour that led to strikes being incurred such as bans on glass, lockouts, drink restrictions and reduced trading hours.
"Licensed venues will also be able to seek reviews of decisions to impose strikes. A second strike may be reviewed by the Casino, Liquor and Gaming Control Authority and a third strike by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
"The Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing will maintain a public registry of strikes, providing a transparent scheme where venues are named to provide incentive to licensees to avoid strikes and inform patrons of venues where offences have led to strikes.
"Effective protocols are also being established between OLGR, NSW Police and the Attorney General’s Department to ensure the currency and accuracy of convictions used in the scheme.
"The Three Strikes and You’re Out policy is all about protecting local communities from incidents of unacceptable alcohol-related behaviour.
"It’s part of new individual personal responsibility laws and increased police powers to protect local communities from irresponsible behaviour by lawless individuals.
"The Government’s message to the liquor industry is that well-run venues implementing effective measures to prevent violence, intoxication, underage drinking and illicit drug use minimise the risk of strikes being incurred.
"We are determined to weed out rogue operators – a small minority of NSW licensees – who repeatedly commit serious liquor offences that lead to violence, anti social behaviour and neighbourhood disturbance."
Issued: Thursday 10 November 2011 [PDF, 57kb]
The Attorney General has tabled the Law Reform Commission's report on compensation to relatives in dust diseases cases. The Government is currently considering the report. The Report makes recommendations to achieve fairness for the families of deceased dust diseases victims who may be disadvantaged by the existing law when the victims die before completing their actions for damages. As a result of a reform passed in 1998, the estate of a person whose death was caused by a dust disease can recover damages for non-economic loss in relation to the pain and suffering and loss of expectation of life provided the victim had commenced proceedings before dying. However, as a result of earlier High Court authority confirmed in the Strikwerda case, such damages must normally be deducted when the damages are calculated in an action by the victim's dependants under the Compensation to Relatives Act for their loss of support arising from the death. The principal reform recommended in this Report is to remove that requirement. "This will put these dependants in an equivalent position to the dependants of a victim who was able to complete a claim for non-economic loss damages in his or her lifetime and as a consequence was in a position to pass them to his dependants," said chairperson of the Commission, the Hon James Wood AO QC. "The Commission does not expect that abolishing the principle will generate any significant increase in the filing of compensation to relatives claims in the Dust Diseases Tribunal, but it will provide a fairer result for the few families affected," Mr Wood said. Some dust diseases victims face difficulties in commencing or completing their claims before dying because of the sometimes rapid progression after diagnosis of asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma and as a consequence their dependants may not be able to receive the benefit of the damages for non-economic loss, which in mesothelioma cases can amount to $200,000 - $300,000. The application of the current law is most likely to affect the dependant families of dust diseases victims who are not entitled to statutory workers' compensation death benefits, such as DIY renovators, children who play with asbestos and spouses who washed work clothes of asbestos workers. In most other cases the dust disease benefits provide sufficient compensation for a worker's dependants such that they rarely bring a dependant's claim under the Compensation to Relatives Act. Having considered the practical difficulties for litigants arising from the often swift progression of asbestos-related diseases between diagnosis and death, the Commission has made a second recommendation that would permit the recovery of damages for non-economic loss by the estate of a deceased dust diseases victim so long as proceedings are commenced no later than 12 months after the victim's death. This will replace the current rule that only permits the estate to recover such damages where the victim had commenced an action in the Dust Diseases Tribunal for damages during his or her lifetime. The NSW Law Reform Commission has been proposing changes to the State's laws since 1966 as the first permanent law reform agency established in Australia. The Chairperson is James Wood AO QC, who is also the lead Commissioner for this reference. The report is published on the Law Reform Commission's website www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/lrc
Issued: Wednesday 9 November 2011[PDF, 236kb]
The Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, has announced the Government will deliver on an election commitment to set up a second Drug Court in Sydney and establish 300 beds for the treatment of drug-addicted prisoners. Mr Smith said the John Morony Correctional Complex at Berkshire Park, in Sydney's north-west, would run the rehabilitation program – to be rolled out in stages from next February.
He added that a second metropolitan Drug Court initially would sit at the Downing Centre one day per week and involve 40 participants per year. Mr Smith said both facilities were important steps in the Government's commitment to reduce recidivism through meaningful rehabilitation. "The Government will be tackling the underlying causes of crime and it is sad fact that many offenders are led into a life of crime because of their addiction to drugs or alcohol. "There can be no doubt that prisoners are less likely to reoffend if they leave prison free of drug dependency,'' Mr Smith said. Corrective services data indicates that on any given day, more than 4500 inmates with a medium to high risk of reoffending need some intervention to address alcohol and other drug-related needs. Of these more than 1000 have severe problems which require intensive intervention. Of the 15,000 people received into custody in 2007-08 in NSW, almost 60 per cent were under the influence of drugs or alcohol when they committed their most serious offence; 71 per cent had committed drug-related crimes (including alcohol); 54 per cent had a history of injecting drug use; and 36 per cent were injecting drugs around the time of their offence. "Unfortunately, I am advised that there should be no difficulties in identifying suitable candidates for participation in the program,'' Mr Smith said. The Attorney General said the 300-bed Metropolitan Drug Treatment Facility at the John Morony Correctional Centre (JMCC), would offer an Intensive Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program (IDATP) for male and female inmates The first phase will involve a 62-bed unit for male inmates at John Morony, to open in February 2012. Further units will open in July 2012 and then in July 2013. The unit at Dilwynnia Correctional Centre for women will open in July 2014. Once fully implemented, there will be 250 beds for male inmates at JMCC and 50 beds at Dillwynia. The male unit will include a 10-bed non-compliance unit to accommodate those inmates displaying anti-social behaviour or non-participation in programs Eligible offenders will be sentenced inmates with a documented history of problematic drug and/or alcohol use, with a minimum non-parole period of six months still to serve and a minimum or medium security classification. Male offenders convicted of sex offences will be excluded as they have specialised programs available to them as sex offenders. Inmates will also be excluded if they have non-association alerts with other inmates already undertaking the IDATP. The second metropolitan Drug Court will be operational from next May and complement existing Drug Courts at Parramatta and Toronto. In addition, there will be a urine test facility, registry support and a collaborative workspace for the different agencies involved – the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Police, Legal Aid and Corrective Services. Mr Smith said the Drug Court, led by Senior Judge Roger Dive, had turned many lives around. "Many of the participants would be in jail, were it not for Judge Dive and his team's extraordinary efforts to address the causes of their offending and drug abuse, such as psychological problems, family dysfunction and inadequate education." The Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research has found the Drug Court is more cost-effective than prison in reducing the rate of re-offending among offenders who had committed drug-related crime. Its 2008 study also found offenders who completed the program were 37 per cent less likely to be convicted of an offence than offenders who did not enter the Drug Court. The positive outcomes at the Parramatta Drug Court since 2000 led to the opening of a second Drug Court at Toronto in March to service the Hunter region.
Issued: Monday 7 November 2011 [PDF, 98kb]
The NSW Government will team up with Rotary Clubs and Dulux Paint to establish volunteer graffiti removal squads across the state, under a plan announced today by Attorney General Greg Smith SC. "This is an opportunity for people who have felt powerless against the scourge of graffiti to unite and restore pride in their community," Mr Smith said. Mr Smith today met with representatives of Turramurra Rotary, who formed a volunteer graffiti squad in 2008, and Dulux, which provides free paint and materials to the squad. "With the support of Ku-ring-gai Council and local businesses, the Turramurra Rotary squad has cleaned more than 3,000 square metres of graffiti in their area," Mr Smith said. "This success story can be replicated in other parts of the state with an identified graffiti problem and the NSW Government is encouraging local councils and businesses to form similar partnerships with Rotary to combat graffiti," he said. With funding from the Department of Attorney General and Justice, Rotary Turramurra will help other Rotary Clubs in NSW establish volunteer graffiti removal squads in their area. Dulux Paint will support the expansion of the program. The team leader of the Turramurra Rotary Graffiti Removal Project, Roger Norman said there has been a groundswell of support for community-driven graffiti removal. "Over the past three years, the Rotary Club has helped establish graffiti removal squads at eight locations in Sydney and on the Central Coast and many other Rotary Clubs have expressed interest in the program," Mr Norman said. "There are many more law abiding citizens than there are vandals and we can prevail over the destructive minority," he said. The proprietor of Turramurra Hardware, Don Wormald, who has raised awareness about the local graffiti removal squad and organised sponsorship to ensure its viability, applauded the expansion of the project. "This is a major step in the fight against graffiti," Mr Wormald said. Dulux Australia General Manager Patrick Jones said Dulux was proud to be supporting Rotary and local communities in restoring public spaces. "We know that graffiti has a negative impact on how people feel about a place and it's great to see local communities taking the initiative to clean up and improve the look of areas in which they live, work and play," Mr Jones said.
Almost anyone can become involved in a Rotary volunteer graffiti removal program in their local area.
NSW Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Greg Smith SC, will today join locals and former staff at the Frank Baxter Juvenile Justice Centre to mark the centenary of the site, which was opened in 1911. The original centre was run as a barracks-style institution with an emphasis on physical drills, training in habits of industry and useful trades, as well as sport. "The original residents, around 70 boys, helped to construct the barracks. No doubt the living conditions were basic but surely better than their previous accommodation on the school ships, which were being used as training schools for juvenile male offenders," Mr Smith said. "Over the 100 years young men and boys have been sent to this site many positive changes have occurred," he said. The Frank Baxter Juvenile Justice Centre, which was opened in 1999, is the largest juvenile justice centre in the state, with the capacity for 120 young people, and accommodates males aged 16 to 21 years, mostly on control orders. "The young people who now reside in this centre live in a humane and safe place where they can have access to education, health care, case management with dedicated staff, specialised counselling, and training in job and living skills. "We want young people to come out of the system with a better chance of fitting back into their community and staying on track. "I'm sure the site has different meanings to the boys and young men who have been sent there over its hundred year history. Today is about acknowledging them and the staff who worked with them over all those years," Mr Smith said.
Monday 31 October, 2011 [PDF,76kb]
Punters should ensure they finish Melbourne Cup day a winner by drinking and gambling responsibly, Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Hospitality, Racing and the Arts, George Souris, said today.
Mr Souris said Melbourne Cup day is one of the biggest sporting and social events of the year and a great opportunity to enjoy the State’s quality pubs, clubs, restaurants, function centres and race tracks.
"Dressing up and enjoying a drink and a flutter on Melbourne Cup day is a great Australian tradition," Mr Souris said.
"While it is one of our biggest social events, the Melbourne Cup also provides a major economic boost for our State’s hospitality industry. I encourage everybody to go out and enjoy this world-class racing spectacular with family, friends and work colleagues at your favourite venue.
"People deserve to have a good time today but they must do so responsibly.
"Nobody wants to see Melbourne Cup celebrations marred by alcohol-related problems so please drink sensibly so everybody has a great day.
"It is against the law for a licensed venue to have intoxicated patrons on their premises. If you are asked to leave by a staff member you must comply or you risk a $550 on-the-spot fine from police.
"Patrons must play their part in helping licensees and their staffs to comply with responsible service of alcohol laws and ensure their venues are safe and enjoyable for everybody."
Mr Souris said punters should also make sure the day doesn’t leave a hole in your pocket.
"Year after year we see just how hard it can be to pick the winner of the Melbourne Cup so please don’t bet what you can’t afford to lose and don’t chase losses," he said.
"We can all enjoy a punt on the race that stops the nation but knowing your limits will ensure it does not leave you with a gambling hangover."
Anyone experiencing gambling problems can contact theGambling Help line 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week on 1800 858 858 or visit www.gamblinghelp.nsw.gov.au
Issued: Friday 28 October 2011[PDF, 79kb]
NSW Attorney General Greg Smith SC is urging qualified counsellors in the Central West to get involved in a scheme that helps victims of violent crime in their recovery. "Victims of violent crime can seek free counselling through the NSW Government's Approved Counselling Scheme, but currently there are very few counsellors involved in the scheme in the State's Central West," said Mr Smith. A forum will be held in Forbes next month to provide Central West professionals with practical information about how they can participate. "The scheme is looking to attract qualified local counsellors - including social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists - who have at least two years post-admission experience," Mr Smith said. "They must also be registered with an appropriate professional body and have some experience working with victims of crime." The Department of Attorney General and Justice's Victims Services and BinaalBilla Family Violence Prevention Legal Service (BBFVPLS) will host the forum. BBFVPLS program coordinator, Karen O'Malley said access to a local counsellor was crucial to some victims of crime. "Victims of crime who are reluctant to travel could go without face-to-face counselling unless we can attract more professionals to provide the service in the Central West,' Ms O'Malley said. The forum will also provide counsellors with an opportunity for professional development, with an afternoon workshop to address issues surrounding working with children exposed to domestic violence. Biijana Milosevic, a children's worker from the Jannawi Family Centre, will conduct the workshop. The forum will be held at the Jemalong Regional Education Centre, 40-70 Church St, Forbes on 14 November 2011 from 10:30am–4pm. Professionals interested in attending should contact Karen O'Malley, Program Coordinator, BBFVPLS, 18 Spring St, Forbes. (02) 6850 1234 or Karen@binaalbilla.com.au
Issued: Wednesday 26 October 2011 [PDF, 96kb]
The Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today announced the appointment of Bill Grant OAM as Chief Executive Officer of Legal Aid NSW. "I am delighted Mr Grant has agreed to return to the position of CEO of Legal Aid, after a four-year absence from the organisation," Mr Smith said. "Legal Aid's service delivery thrived while Mr Grant was at the helm, resulting in him being awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the community and to the law." Mr Smith said he had become concerned that Legal Aid was straying from its core work of improving access to justice for those who cannot afford legal representation. "I am confident Mr Grant will return the organisation's focus to providing services for those most in need,'' he said. Mr Grant served as head of Legal Aid from 2001 to 2007. During that period, he also established a Legal Aid Human Rights Committee and a specialist unit to assist disadvantaged people involved in coronial inquests. For the past four years, Mr Grant has been the Secretary-General of the Law Council of Australia – a body representing more than 50,000 legal practitioners. Mr Grant graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Laws in 1975. He began his career at the Crown Solicitor's Office, where he worked in the prosecuting, constitutional law and special litigation branches. He worked at the Attorney General's Department between 1988 and 2001, reaching the position of Deputy Director General. In that period, he chaired the Victims Advisory Board and was a member of the NSW Privacy Committee and the NSW Legal Practitioners Board. Mr Grant has also served as Acting Commissioner of the Health Care Complaints Commission.
The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, has congratulated Aboriginal rights campaigner John McKenzie for being awarded the 2011 Justice Medal tonight. Mr McKenzie, who was a principal solicitor to the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in 1987, has worked tirelessly over the past 30 years to ensure that Aboriginal people have access to proper legal representation. Former High Court Chief Justice Sir Anthony Mason presented Mr McKenzie with the highest honour of the annual Law and Justice Foundation awards, held at NSW Parliament House. "Where many others have fought and then moved on, John remains dedicated and passionate to law reform, and he retains a fresh, innovative approach to legal service delivery,'' Sir Anthony said. The Attorney General presented the 2011 Aboriginal Justice Award to Ms Jan Fennell for her work as a liaison officer with NSW Police in Menindee, a remote rural town in the State's far west. Mr Smith said the community was challenged by issues such as truancy, anti-social behaviour, crime, and alcohol. "Jan has been instrumental in running projects to bring the community and police together, and fostered a healthy relationship between them so that together, they can tackle the many issues their community faces," Mr Smith said. The night's other major award, the Pro Bono Partnership Award, went to a partnership between Women's Legal Services NSW, law firms Blake Dawson, Clayton Utz and Freehills, the NSW Bar Association and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for increasing access to justice for victims of sexual assault. For the list of nominees and winners go to www.lawfoundation.net.au/justice_awards
Issued: Friday 21 October 2011
Minister for Finance and Services Greg Pearce, Attorney General Greg Smith SC, and Minister for Fair Trading Anthony Roberts today said NSW would look at options to reform the number of Tribunals in NSW, including opportunities for consolidation. Attorney General, Greg Smith SC said the matter had been referred to a Parliamentary Committee who would consider a range of options and report back to Government early in the new year. "The number of Tribunals in NSW had made dispute resolution in NSW complex for residents and created inefficiency and duplication across Government," Mr Smith said. "In 2002, the Ombudsman and Police Integrity Commission recommended that Tribunals in NSW be consolidated, but since this time only minor changes have occurred," he said. "The NSW Government is committed to quicker, cheaper and more effective Tribunals and today's announcement is the next step in making that happen. The Law and Justice Committee has been tasked with:
Considering opportunities to consolidate Tribunals;
Reviewing current Tribunal workloads including the Industrial Relations Commission, Administrative Decisions Tribunal and health disciplinary Tribunals;
Reviewing the operation of the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal; and
Considering any consequential changes that may arise.
Minister for Finance and Services Greg Pearce said the inquiry would look at whether a single point of contact for all Tribunal related dispute resolution functions could be of benefit, especially for NSW regional residents. "We are determined to make any dealings with the NSW Government easier and seamless, including in matters of dispute resolution," Mr Pearce said. "Options for a more consolidated approach has the potential to increase decision-making quality and achieve efficiencies across Government," he said. "With significant changes in the jurisdiction of the NSW Industrial Relations Commission, including the introduction of the Fair Work Act and the National Occupational Health and Safety system, opportunities already exist to allow the IRC to hear other matters. "It makes sense that we use the resources we have more effectively and create simpler services for NSW residents to use. "This approach is tried and tested and has been operating in Victoria for some years," Mr Pearce said. Minister for Fair Trading, Anthony Roberts said a number of opportunities existed to improve Fair Trading's framework for resolving disputes between tenants, landlords, traders and consumers. "The Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal is used by tens of thousands of NSW residents every year. "This inquiry provides an opportunity to determine if or whether we can make any improvements," Mr Roberts said.
Issued: Thursday 20 October 2011[PDF, 123kb]
NSW Attorney General Greg Smith SC has invited public comment on whether changes are needed to key laws for juvenile offenders. Mr Smith today released a consultation paper that forms part of a review of the Young Offenders Act 1997 and the Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act 1987. "The review will determine whether the laws are effective and consistent with the NSW Government's commitment to reducing recidivism among young offenders," Mr Smith said. "It is also important that the laws are in line with community standards and I encourage members of the public, including victims of crime, to have their say." The issued raised include whether:
any changes are needed to the laws governing the issuing of warnings and cautions and the directing of young offenders into youth conferencing;
the Children's Court should be responsible for hearing all traffic matters involving juvenile defendants (currently young people must face the Local Court if they were old enough to legally drive at the time of the incident);
the Young Offenders Act and the Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act should be amalgamated.
"The consultation paper gives the community the facts about youth offending and the law so that it can make up its own mind about the issues raised," Mr Smith said. The Young Offenders Act enables children who commit certain offences to be dealt with outside of court through the use of warnings, cautions and youth justice conferences. The Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act governs the age of criminal responsibility, the jurisdiction of the Children's Court and the penalties that apply to children for criminal offences. The Department of Attorney General and Justice is conducting the review, with assistance from legal groups, criminologists, experts in young offending and advocates for victims of crime and people with a disability. The consultation paper is available at: www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/lpd. Submissions were made by 9 December 2011.
Issued: Wednesday 19 October 2011 [PDF, 118kb]
Minister for Finance and Services Greg Pearce and Attorney General Greg Smith SC today said NSW had taken the next step towards delivering on its commitment to national Work Health and Safety laws. Mr Smith said the next stage of harmonising WHS laws involved transitioning work health and safety prosecutions from the Industrial Court to the District Court and Local Court. "The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 was enacted in June this year and as promised was delivered within the first 100 days of this government," Mr Smith said. "The new laws will start on 1 January 2012 and ensure that this state:
maintains its strong work, health and safety framework;
keeps businesses accountable;
reduces red tape for employers; and
simplifies the laws for both employers and workers.
"One of the main changes under the new legislation will be that most work health and safety prosecutions will be heard in the District Court instead of the Industrial Court," Mr Smith said. Mr Pearce said the transition from the Industrial Court to the District Court had been an important issue and one where the NSW Government wanted to provide certainty to affected parties. "All Occupational Health & Safety matters currently before the Industrial Court, and all matters filed before 31 December 2011 are to remain with the Industrial Court," Mr Pearce said. "The only exception will be where the alleged offence was committed after 7 June 2011," he said. "It is estimated that about 200 Occupational Health & Safety Act prosecutions will be underway in the Industrial Court when the new laws come into effect. "This announcement today means clarity for cases already underway. "Allowing cases already in the Industrial Court to remain there until they are completed will save costs and is a win-win for all parties. A Bill will also be introduced into Parliament, making amendments to industry-specific laws which deal with workplace health and safety, such as the mine and rail safety schemes. "This Bill will ensure these industry specific schemes are consistent with the nationally agreed WHS regime," Mr Pearce said. "Our Government remains committed to providing a safe and healthy working environment for every NSW worker. "These laws are long overdue, and will finally deliver the certainty and protection all local workers and local businesses deserve," Mr Pearce said.
Issued: Wednesday 19 October 2011 [PDF, 105kb]
The Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, has welcomed the announcement that NSW will be the home for the new National Legal Services Board and National Legal Services Commissioner. NSW won a ballot to host the new national regulators, that will play the key role in reforms to the legal profession – a sector which generates around $13 billion of income a year. "NSW will ensure that the Board is established on time, within budget and in premises that befits its role as the peak national regulator and the face of the Australian profession internationally,'' Mr Smith said. NSW, Queensland, Victoria and the Northern Territory – are taking part in the reforms, covering around 85 per cent of Australia's practising lawyers. There will be the same practice rules – and entry requirements – for all lawyers and a new complaint-handling process that will benefit consumers. This system will be overseen by the new national regulators, with the Board also developing the uniform national rules. Mr Smith said NSW had a wealth of experience in regulating Australia's largest and most diverse legal services sector, which comprises more than 40 per cent of Australian legal practitioners. "NSW has been a driving force behind national reforms to the legal profession over the past decade, but there has been a lot of collaboration with other states – and in particular Victoria,'' Mr Smith said. "We hope to provide sound leadership and an inclusive approach that will benefit all the nation's lawyers – and legal consumers."
Tuesday October 18, 2011 [PDF,152kb]
The NSW Government today announced the final shape of its 'Three Strikes and You're Out' policy to strip rogue licensees of their liquor licences.
Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Hospitality, Racing and the Arts, George Souris, said it followed consultation with the industry and key stakeholders over draft legislation introduced to Parliament earlier this year.
"The draft Liquor Amendment (3 Strikes) Bill 2011 was introduced in June with the express commitment that the industry would be consulted and have an opportunity to make submissions about this important legislation," Mr Souris said.
"The Government has carefully considered submissions and representations to ensure this policy targets rogue operators and does not adversely impact on responsible licensees.
"This policy delivers severe penalties so it‟s paramount that the scheme operates fairly and effectively to deliver maximum benefits to communities where there are incidents of unacceptable alcohol-related behaviour.
"The scheme simplifies the policy and sends a clear message that there is no place for rogue licensees in the NSW liquor industry."
Mr Souris said key elements of the Three Strikes and You‟re Out policy are:
Strikes are incurred when a licensed venue is convicted of one of a range of serious offences under the Liquor Act;
Offences include permitting intoxication, allowing violent behaviour on the premises, supplying alcohol to a minor or an intoxicated patron, selling alcohol outside authorised trading hours, allowing a substance on premises the licensee suspects is an illicit drug, failing to comply with an official direction, non compliance with a closure order and breaching key licence conditions;
The first strike is automatically incurred upon conviction for an offence and is in force for three years. A second and third strike can be incurred upon further offence convictions within three years;
A decision that a venue incurs a second strike is made by the Director General of NSW Trade and Investment;
The Casino, Liquor and Gaming Control Authority – the State‟ independent statutory body responsible for liquor licensing – will determine if a venue incurs a third strike and is subject to a review by the Administrative Decision Tribunal;
"This policy can deliver the ultimate sanction to rogue licensees who repeatedly put the safety of patrons and the broader community at risk – loss of licence and disqualification from the industry," Mr Souris said.
"The community should not have to tolerate licensees repeatedly committing serious liquor offences that lead to violence, anti social behaviour and neighbourhood disturbance.
"This scheme forces venues to lift their game. If a pub or club is convicted of one serious offence the first strike is automatically incurred. From this point on the venue is effectively on a good behaviour bond for three years, forcing them to maintain the highest standards to avoid further offences and strikes.
"Ultimately they will face severe penalties if they do not reduce intoxication and violence and improve management and compliance standards.
"This policy complements other measures introduced by the Liberals and Nationals to tackle alcohol problems including reinforcing the need for personal responsibility with expanded police move on powers and a new Intoxicated and Disorderly offence."
Wednesday 5 October, 2011 [PDF,101kb]
The new members of the Randwick Racecourse Trust have now been appointed after the NSW Government changed antiquated legislation which appointed trustees for life.
"We have replaced 19th century conventions with modern practices for the appointment of trustees and land use approvals for Randwick Racecourse to safeguard the future of the iconic home of Australian racing," Minister for Racing, George Souris said today.
Mr Souris said the legislation, which comes into effect on October 7, 2011, allows for the Minister to appoint the Chairman of the Trustees for terms totalling up to eight years.
He announced that Mr David Armati will be Chairman for a period of five years; Mr Paul Whelan and Mr Robert Charley will both be trustees for four years.
Mr Souris said the trustees would oversee new measures introduced to safeguard the racecourse land.
"Randwick Racecourse is original Crown Grant land held by three trustees who grant leases to the Australian Turf Club and approve additional activities such as subleases.
"The measures will provide an appropriate level of control over any future commercial uses of the lands to ensure they continue to be used principally as a racecourse and in keeping with current Crown land management practices which focus on ensuring public benefit.
Mr Souris said the current 99 year lease of the racecourse to the Australian Turf Club was not affected by the changes.
"I want to thank the outgoing trustees for their hard work, diligence and years of honorary service," Mr Souris said.
David ARMATI Admitted as a solicitor in 1971 and appointed as a Magistrate in 1984.
Chairperson of the NSW Licensing Court and the Liquor Administration Board of NSW from 1991 – 2008. Former President of the NSW Institute of Magistrates, the Australian Association of Magistrates and the Commonwealth Magistrates and Judges Association. Recently retired as the co-coordinating Magistrate at Manly Local Court. Recently appointment as Deputy Chairman of the Casino Liquor and Gaming Control Authority.
LLB. Mayor of Ashfield 1971 – 1976.
Member of the NSW legislative Assembly (Asfield and Strathfield) 1976 – 2003. Minister of the Crown in various portfolios 1981 – 2003, including Minister for Police 1995 - 2001. Currently a thoroughbred horse breeder and owner of Luskin Park Stud.
Robert (Bob) CHARLEY AO
Former Committee member and Chairman of the Australian Jockey Club. In 1997 was elected initial Chairman of the new controlling body for thoroughbred racing – Racing NSW and became the inaugural Chairman of the Australian Racing Board in 1998. Awarded the Officer of the Order of Australia in 1991 for service to the Australian thoroughbred industry.
Issued: Thursday 29 September 2011 [PDF, 33kb]
The evidence will be clearer in the NSW Supreme Court, following the arrival of high definition video technology in selected courtrooms at the Law Courts Building in Sydney's CBD. The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, said he was impressed with the latest improvements in a visit to the court today. "All 10 courtrooms on levels 8 and 11 have received a technology upgrade as part of the renovations, and most are now equipped with high-definition cameras and 60-inch LCD monitors," Mr Smith said. "The technology is capable of delivering crystal-clear pictures and superior sound and will improve the transmission quality of recorded evidence and witness testimony via audio-visual links. "This is the first time that high-definition technology has been installed in a NSW court and it will set a benchmark for future court upgrades." Levels 8 and 11 have also been made more accessible to people with a disability. "People using a wheelchair will now be able sit on a jury in defamation hearings at Queens Square, following the installation of ramps and a fully accessible jury box and deliberation room," Mr Smith said. Mr Smith said the improvements were part of the ongoing renovation of the Law Courts Building. "Twenty-four of the 32 courtrooms occupied by the Supreme Court in the building at Queens Square have been refurbished from floor-to-ceiling and will be the envy of judges in other jurisdictions," Mr Smith said. "Nine of the courtrooms are now E-Court compatible, which will enable practitioners at the bar table to access real-time transcripts of proceedings on their lap top computers." Mr Smith noted that many of the previously windowless courtrooms were now filled with natural light. "The courtrooms have been redesigned to create a more welcoming atmosphere in keeping with the NSW Government's philosophy that the judicial system should be open and accessible," Mr Smith said. Other areas to be refurbished include interview rooms for the legal profession, judge's chambers and public amenities. Work will begin in October on the refurbishment of levels 10 and 13 of the Law Courts Building. All 10 floors occupied by the Supreme Court are being refurbished at a cost of $94 million, with the project due for completion in 2013/14. "To minimise disruption to the Supreme Court, the renovations are being conducted two floors at a time with most of the work being done outside of sitting hours, including at night and on weekends,"' Mr Smith said. The 23-floor Law Courts Building accommodates 50 Commonwealth and State courtrooms. The NSW and Federal Governments are jointly funding the refurbishment of the building. The project also includes new air conditioning, electrical and fire safety systems, new windows and frames and substantial improvements to the building's lift network.
Issued: Thursday 29 September 2011 [PDF, 29kb]
Christine Adamson SC has been appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of NSW, Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today. "Ms Adamson is an experienced and highly regarded barrister, who richly deserves her elevation to the bench of the Supreme Court," Mr Smith said. Ms Adamson has most recently served as counsel assisting the Special Commission of Inquiry into the NSW Electricity Transactions. In 2010, Ms Adamson appeared as counsel assisting the Independent Commission Against Corruption for the inquiries into former Labor MPs Karyn Paluzzano and Angela D'Amore and members of their staff. Ms Adamson has also appeared on behalf of the NSW Bar Association in a range of disciplinary matters against barristers, including the former judge Marcus Einfeld and the former Deputy Senior Crown Prosecutor Patrick Power. Ms Adamson studied law at the University of Adelaide, graduating with first-class honours in 1985. She has worked for the Commonwealth Attorney General's Department in Canberra and the Australian Government Solicitor in Sydney. Ms Adamson was admitted as a barrister in 1989 and appointed a Senior Counsel in 2003. She has appeared regularly in the NSW Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court and the Federal Court. Her areas of practice have included administrative law, statutory interpretation, commercial, property and common law, professional indemnity, trade practices and compulsory acquisition - frequently in appellate courts. Since 2006, she has also served as the Chair of the Council of Law Reporting, which is responsible for publishing the NSW Law Reports. Ms Adamson will be sworn in as a Supreme Court judge on October 17
Issued date: Friday 23 September 2011 [PDF, 107kb]
The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today announced the NSW Law Reform Commission would examine sentencing laws to ensure courts have adequate options when dealing with offenders. Mr Smith said he also wanted the Commission to look at ways that decisions could be better explained. "This announcement reflects the Government's election commitment to review sentencing legislation," Mr Smith said. "I have asked the Commission to review the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 and, in particular, to look at simplifying the law and providing a consistent and transparent framework for sentencing decisions. "We need to encourage the use of more non-custodial and community-based sentences as a viable alternative to full-time incarceration for less serious offences," Mr Smith said. The Government is committed to investing money and resources in diversionary programs and breaking a cycle in which more than 40 per cent of all NSW criminals reoffend after leaving prison. The Attorney General has asked the Law Reform Commission to consult closely with the Sentencing Council. "The Sentencing Council has considerable knowledge and experience in sentencing laws, and I want to make sure the Law Reform Commission takes full advantage of its expertise," Mr Smith said. The Review will be led by the Chairperson of the Law Reform Commission, the Hon James Wood AO QC, who is also deputy Chairperson of the Sentencing Council. The Commission has been asked to report by the end of October 2012. The Commission will undertake extensive consultation in the course of developing its recommendations. More information and the terms of reference are available from www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/lrc
Sunday 18 September 2011, [PDF,90kb]
Teenagers bragging about underage drinking on social media sites have triggered a new crackdown in and around licensed venues in popular beachside towns in the lead up to Schoolies Week.
Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Hospitality, Racing and the Arts, George Souris, said the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) and NSW Police have launched the joint operation to stop minors getting into pubs and clubs and accessing alcohol from bottle shops.
"The first leg of the program, Operation Uncover, was held in Newcastle last night (September 17), with a team of 15 OLGR inspectors and licensing and general duties police conducting walk-throughs at eight pubs and clubs sweeping for minors and checking IDs," Mr Souris said". "There appears to be a growing trend where minors are bypassing fake ID for a borrowed ID from a relative or friend if they have a similar appearance, however, the Newcastle operation, which found several under age drinkers, shows that they will get caught."
Mr Souris said the Juvenile Drinking Initiative will target 30 high risk late trading licensed venues to strengthen ID checking procedures and teach staff how to detect a fake or altered ID.
"Over the next three months, this campaign will be rolled out in the Hunter Valley, Newcastle City, Lake Macquarie, Tuggerah Lakes, Brisbane Water and Tweed-Byron Local Area Commands," Mr Souris said.
"Uniformed OLGR inspectors and police will conduct high visibility inspections of late trading pubs and clubs sweeping for minors on the premises and checking IDs.
"Officers will also be ensuring venue security staff is conducting proper checks at entry points to keep minors out and catch anybody attempting to use a fake ID.
"Licensees who allow underage drinkers on their premises face a maximum penalty of $11,000 and 12 months in jail.
"The NSW Government also recognises the need to promote individual responsibility and a clear message that a culture that permits underage or excessive consumption is not acceptable.
"If you’re underage and caught unlawfully inside licensed venues or buying alcohol from a licensed venue you can cop a fine of up to $2,200. And you could even risk spending an additional six months on your P-plates if you use fake ID."
Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for the Hunter, Michael Gallacher, said: "This operation delivers a blunt message to minors in the lead up to Schoolies Week – don’t try to get into pubs and clubs or buy alcohol from bottleshops because you will be caught and there are significant penalties.
"It’s also a warning to licensed venues to put extra procedures in place now in preparation for the increased risk during end of school celebrations.
"Supplying alcohol to a minor is a serious crime and can lead to fines of up to $11,000 and 12 months imprisonment."
Member for Newcastle, Tim Owen, said: "I have listened to concerns raised by members of the Newcastle community regarding alcohol fuelled violence, underage drinking and the irresponsible serving of alcohol in the city.
"I recognise that there is an issue of irresponsible service of alcohol in Newcastle and I am committed to working with and for the community on the matter and I am sure that the people of Newcastle will appreciate the efforts being made by the NSW Government.
"This is about targeting irresponsible licensees, not those who are playing by the rules".
Mr Souris said OLGR officers are currently attending liquor accord meetings and staging RSA of the Frontline workshops to help licensees introduce strategies to reduce the risk of minors getting into their premises.
"Security and door staff are being encouraged to use black light testing devices to verify the authenticity of special security features on IDs such as holograms and highlight any abnormalities if the ID has been altered in any way," Mr Souris said.
"With a range of internet sites offering bogus IDs such as international student cards, licensees are also being told to only accept a current driver’s licence, passport, a NSW Photo Card or proof of age card issued by another State or Territory.
"Licensed venues are also being encouraged to use the Australian ID Checking Guide – a handy pocket sized booklet containing the various forms of IDs in each State and Territory and a description of their security features. It also gives advice on how to spot a fake or altered ID."
Issued: Sunday 18 September 2011 [PDF, 83kb]
NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, together with the NSW Trustee & Guardian today urged people across the state to take advantage of events being held during Good Will Week 2011 and ensure they have an up-to-date Will. "The theme of this year's community education campaign is 'A Will for a long and happy life' to recognise while we are living longer than ever, the inevitable will happen, and we all need to make sure we have a legally valid Will in place," Mr Smith said. The good news is that almost 40 per cent of the 20,000 older Australians surveyed for Good Will Week consider themselves happy or optimistic, while the same amount say they are "generally fulfilled" about life and only 2.4 per cent said they were generally pessimistic. The top tip they would give to younger people to help them live a longer and happier life was "to have family or friends nearby" followed by having "meaningful work" or "doing what you love", and then "keeping your brain active". "To discover older Australians really enjoy themselves and feel pretty contented with their lives is a positive thing for all of us," Mr Smith said. Mr Smith added there should be no barriers to making a Will as there is no cost to write a Will with NSW Trustee & Guardian as executor. Charges apply on estate administration only. "You can write a Will at 18 and continue to update it at no charge throughout your life as many times as you need – such as when relationships change, when you buy a house, have children, start a business and so on," Mr Smith said. For more information about Good Will Week, or to register for events, please visit www.goodwillweek.com.au. Eighteen branches of the NSW Trustee & Guardian will be open for a Wills Day on Saturday, 24 September 2011. Appointments are free and bookings for the Wills Day can be made by calling 1300 14 24 34. Good Will Week runs from 18 September – 24 September 2011.
Issued: Wednesday 7 September 2011 [PDF, 97kb]
A program that enables severely disadvantaged people to work off their fines had been expanded and made permanent, NSW Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today. The Fines Amendment (Work and Development Orders) Bill 2011 was given unanimous support as it passed through both the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council. "Work Development Orders (WDOs) give the homeless, mentally ill and other vulnerable people the chance to clear their fine debts by engaging in unpaid work or educational and therapeutic programs," Mr Smith said. A two-year pilot program found one in five participants did not incur further court fines or penalty notices that were referred to the State Debt Recovery Office. Mr Smith said the program would now be open to people with serious addictions to alcohol, illicit drugs and other volatile substances. "Drug and alcohol abuse are often closely linked to criminal behaviour and helping people overcome their addictions will have major benefits to the community," Mr Smith said. Mr Smith praised not-for-profit organisations, including St Vincent de Paul, Mission Australia, Catholic Care, Youth Off The Streets and the Schizophrenia Fellowship for their commitment to the scheme. "These good Samaritans have played a crucial role in the success of Work Development Orders, by operating the programs that have helped disadvantaged people clear their fines and make a positive contribution to society," Mr Smith said. Ninety-six per cent of organisations and health practitioners involved in the Work Development Order pilot supported its continuation. By April this year, more than 700 people had been issued with WDOs and had reduced $294,000 in personal fine debt. "The expansion of Work Development Orders will divert more people from the criminal justice system and will save taxpayers' money," Mr Smith said.
Issued: Tuesday, 6 September 2011 [PDF, 29kb]
Parramatta, Kirkconnell and Berrima Correctional Centres will close by the end of the year following an unprecedented drop in the prison population. All inmates from those centres will be relocated by December 2011 and staff will be redeployed in a process that will save the State Government an estimated $26 million per annum. There were 11,224 prison beds available at the end of August but only 9,847 inmates. That's down from 10,400 in June last year. Consultation with unions commenced in July to discuss the closure of between 600 and 650 beds and the need to find savings across the organisation. Parramatta prison was partially closed in September last year when three of its six wings were shut. The building is 169 years old. Voluntary redundancy packages, redeployment and additional training have been offered to all staff and every attempt is being made to backfill positions. Commissioner Ron Woodham said support teams including senior HR managers will attend all three centres over the next month to offer advice and support in regard to employment options. The Commissioner has written personally to all staff at Parramatta, Berrima and Kirkconnell advising them of the organisational changes. There has already been a significant response to the latest round of voluntary redundancy packages which closed on August 26. One hundred and eighty offers have already been approved and sent out to interested staff. Staff were personally informed of the closures today. Parramatta
200 inmates are currently housed at Parramatta Correctional Centre which has the capacity to hold 580 inmates. They will be relocated to vacant beds at the Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre, Silverwater, Long Bay, Parklea, Bathurst and the South Coast Correctional Centre.
A total of 143 staff from Parramatta Correctional Centre will be redeployed or offered voluntary redundancies due to the closure of this centre. Where vacancies exist, staff will be transferred around the State to backfill positions.
The future of the facility will be reviewed by the State Property Authority due to the buildings historic and heritage significance. The prison will close following a staged reduction before Christmas.
Berrima Correctional Centre holds 75 inmates and has a current prison population of 60 inmates. Most of these female prisoners will be relocated to Dillwynia and Emu Plains Correctional Centres.
The 49 staff currently based at Berrima will be redeployed or offered voluntary redundancy.
All community projects currently being undertaken by inmates will not only continue but be expanded. An operational plan has been developed to assign the programs to offenders on Community Service Orders and Intensive Corrections Orders. Additional support will be provided by Goulburn Correctional Centre. These programs are a vital rehabilitation tool for offenders and an important service to the community. A plan has been put in place to ensure the service provided by Corrective Services NSW (CSNSW) continues.
The prison will be closed by early November 2011.
Kirkconnell has the capacity to house 250 inmates, the current population being 170 inmates. All of these inmates will be relocated to the minimum security wings at Bathurst and Long Bay.
57 staff at the centre will be redeployed or offered voluntary redundancies. Every attempt is being made to accommodate the requests of officers at the centre.
The Pups in Prison program will remain at Kirkconnell in the immediate short term before being relocated to Emu Plains Correctional Centre, to accommodate the highly successful program.
All community projects currently being undertaken by inmates will not only continue but be expanded. An operational plan has been developed to assign the programs to offenders on Community Service Orders and Intensive Corrections Orders. Additional support will be provided by Bathurst Correctional Centre inmates. These programs are a vital rehabilitation tool for offenders and a critical service to the community. A plan has been put in place to ensure the service provided by CSNSW continues.
The facility will be closed early December 2011.
Issued: Tuesday 6 September 2011 [PDF, 176kb]
The NSW Liberals and Nationals Government will invest $46 million in programs to reduce re-offending and $78 million to build new courts and improve existing facilities, Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today. Mr Smith said the 2011-12 Budget provided for the creation of a new Drug Court, specialist drug rehabilitation correctional facilities and education and training programs for inmates. There is funding to reduce the state's juvenile remand population, with more than $11 million set aside over four years for programs which will assist young people with their bail applications and help them meet bail conditions. "A significant number of young people are held in custody simply because they have no accommodation or support in the community to help them comply with bail," Mr Smith said. "Juvenile Justice will increase the number of Court Intake and Bail Support staff across the State, helping young people stay out of trouble and out of detention." The Government will invest a further $7 million over four years to house young people in Broken Hill under the Remote Remand Model. "This funding will provide accommodation in a secure Juvenile Justice Centre at Broken Hill. It will allow young people to stay closer to their families, community and support systems,'' Mr Smith said. The Forum Sentencing program will receive $9 million as it expands to Cessnock, Lismore, Penrith, Port Macquarie, Tamworth, Wagga and Albury. The program, which gives victims of crime a role in determining an adult offender's sentence, is currently operating at 33 locations across NSW. Mr Smith said the Government is also examining the potential for greater contestability in the provision of corrective services, as part of a prison reform process currently underway. In June 2010, prisoner numbers in full time custody had risen to just over 10,400. Within one year this has fallen below 10,000, with the State currently carrying a surplus capacity of approximately 12% in its prison system. To address this surplus capacity and to align the State's prison system with community needs, Mr Smith said the Berrima, Parramatta and Kirkconnell Correctional Centres would be closed and the inmates relocated to other facilities. As part of this change, a disused section of Parklea correctional centre with 80 beds will re-open. Mr Smith said the Government would also expand and upgrade the NSW court network. "The NSW Government will build a $40 million courthouse and a $19 million police station in Coffs Harbour, as part of a planned Government Services Precinct for the city," Mr Smith said. "The new courthouse will be 50 per cent larger than the existing court building and will feature up to five courtrooms, airport-style security and facilities for victims of crime, the legal profession, people with a disability and the general public." The Budget also includes $9 million for construction of a new courthouse at Armidale and $19 million to upgrade courts at locations including the Downing Centre in Sydney's CBD, Liverpool, Waverley, Taree and Port Macquarie. Other highlights of the Budget include:
almost $7 million for simplifying and accelerating the electronic filing of court documents, exchange of information between justice agencies and provision of online court services;
an additional $5 million to improve the maintenance of court facilities and technology;
more than $2 million for a trial of alternative dispute resolution procedures in child protection matters at Bidura Children's Court;
more than $1 million for Legal Aid services to victims of sexual assault seeking to prevent their counselling records being produced as evidence; and
$200,000 for research into the needs of victims of crime.
"The NSW Liberals & Nationals Government has delivered a comprehensive and responsible plan to reduce re-offending, assist victims in their recovery and ensure that the NSW court system remains the best in Australia," Mr Smith said.
NSW Attorney General Greg Smith SC today visited LawAccess NSW to congratulate the service on 10 years of helping people address their legal problems. "LawAccess is a free telephone and online service that provides fast and practical legal information, referrals and in some cases legal advice to people in NSW, including many who are unfamiliar with the legal system and from disadvantaged backgrounds," Mr Smith said. Since it began in 2001, the service has answered more than 1.3 million calls and provided in excess of 138,000 advice sessions. Almost 15 per cent of its advice sessions were given in 2010/11. "Over the past 10 years, the most common calls fielded by LawAccess have related to family law and parenting arrangements, debt issues, wills and employment law," Mr Smith said. Priority customers include those who live in regional, rural and remote areas of NSW, who are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, who have a disability, who are homeless or who are from non-English speaking backgrounds. Mr Smith said calls had increased more than 14-fold since the service, now based in Parramatta, began. "LawAccess received 1,761 interpreter calls in 46 languages in 2010/11, compared to just 125 calls in 18 languages in its first full year of operation," Mr Smith said. LawAccess works closely with face-to-face services including Legal Aid, Community Legal Centres and local courts. The service, which receives funding from the NSW Government, was established in partnership with the Department of Attorney General and Justice, Legal Aid, the Law Society of NSW and the NSW Bar Association. To contact LawAccess, phone 1300 888 529 or call the Telephone Interpreter Service on 131 450. For online help, visit www.lawaccess.nsw.gov.au. The website features the new LawAssist service, which helps people representing themselves in court. LawAssist currently covers the small claims debt process, motor vehicle accidents, apprehended domestic and personal violence orders and fines. LawAssist recorded more than 121,000 visits during its first year of operation in 2010-2011.
The Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today announced the appointment of Malcolm Schyvens as the President of the Guardianship Tribunal of NSW. The Guardianship Tribunal helps to protect and empower people with a decision-making disability, such as those with dementia. Its responsibilities include determining applications for the appointment of guardians and financial managers. "Mr Schyvens has worked extensively with those who have a decision-making disability in NSW and Tasmania and has served as Deputy President of the Guardianship Tribunal of NSW for the past three years," Mr Smith said. After studying law and commerce at the University of Tasmania, Mr Schyvens was admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of Tasmania in 1997. Mr Schyvens was managing partner of a legal practice in Hobart from 2002 to 2008. He has also served as President of the Law Society of Tasmania, Chairman of the Law Foundation of Tasmania and a Director of the Centre for Legal Studies in Tasmania. "While in Tasmania, Mr Schyvens demonstrated a commitment to people with an intellectual disability or a mental illness through several responsibilities he held," Mr Smith said. "He was a Legal Member of the Guardianship & Administration Board (2003-2008), a member of the Forensic Tribunal (2007-2008), and was the President of the Board of Cosmos Inc. (2001-2008), an organisation providing community-based life skills and recreational services to people with an intellectual disability." Mr Schyvens joined the Guardianship Tribunal of NSW in 2008. Since moving to NSW, he has also been a member of the Elder Law & Succession Committee of the Law Society of NSW. Mr Schyvens will begin a five-year term as President of the Guardianship Tribunal on September 1, 2011. "I congratulate Mr Schyvens on his appointment and wish him well," said Mr Smith.
(31/08/11) The Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today announced that the NSW Government's spending on legal services would be subjected to higher standards of transparency and accountability. Mr Smith today released the Government's Legal Services Blueprint, following a major review of legal expenditure in the NSW public sector. "The Government will increase public access to information about its spending on legal services and introduce measures to ensure the services are high quality and good value," Mr Smith said. The Department of Attorney General and Justice's Legal Services Co-ordination Unit will drive the Blueprint's reforms, which include:
more sharing of legal information between government agencies to reduce duplication;
an increase in government-wide specialised training of in-house legal teams;
standardising tendering processes and documentation for external legal services;
streamlining the use of legal panels by government agencies; and,
encouraging the greater use of alternative fee arrangements for external legal services, with a shift away from hourly rates.
Each government agency will be required to monitor and assess the performance of external legal services providers. From the 2012/2013 annual report onwards, agencies will also be required to publish information on legal services expenditure. A review of legal expenditure found the NSW Government spent $296 million on legal services in 2008/09 (excluding frontline providers such as the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Police Prosecutors, Legal Aid and the Public Defender's Office). "Legal services help the NSW Government to manage risk and protect the state's interests," Mr Smith said."Government agencies will now be able to make better informed decisions about legal services and a more efficient process of selecting service providers will result in long term savings." For the blueprint got to www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/lms
Wednesday 31 August, 2011 [PDF, 208kb]
The Minister for Racing, George Souris, has supported the actions taken by the Australian Turf Club in transferring the Randwick meeting on Saturday, September 3, to Warwick Farm due to a public safety issue.
This follows the discovery by engineers of a rusted cable holding up beams on the roof of the QEII Stand at Royal Randwick.
"The safety of the public is paramount and the Board of the Australian Turf Club took the only action open to it in transferring the meeting to Warwick Farm," Mr Souris said.
"I am advised that the discovery of the danger to public safety came about after some exploratory work on the concrete roof beams of the QEII.
"Engineers tested one beam which was easily accessible, found the problem and decided that it was unsafe to the public.
"I am also advised that the roof of the stand will have to be removed and all the beams and cables inspected and that could take up to a week".
Mr Souris said any future action, including the transfer of other meetings, will depend on what the engineers find once the roof is fully inspected.
"We won‟t know how the Spring Carnival, the jewel in the NSW racing calendar, will be affected, with the George Main Stakes meeting set down for September 17.
"The Australian Turf Club will decide on further action following the engineers‟ report and will keep me and the public apprised of the situation.
„However, I repeat that public safety is the only consideration and the QEII Stand will not re-open until that can be guaranteed," Mr Souris said.
Thursday 25 August, 2011 [PDF,86kb]
The NSW Government described the passing of key legislation by Parliament today as an historic moment for the registered club movement, bringing an end to years of unfair tax hikes and injecting millions of dollars into local communities.
Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Hospitality and Racing and Minister for the Arts, George Souris, said the Liberals and Nationals have thrown a lifeline to the struggling club industry to ensure its sustainability and strengthen its social and economic contribution to NSW.
Mr Souris said the Upper House today passed the final legislative stage of the
Gaming Machine Tax Amendment Bill 2011 to implement reduced tax rates and establish a new ClubGRANTS scheme.
"The passing of this Bill fulfils a key election promise made by the Liberal-Nationals Coalition when we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Clubs NSW last year," he said.
"New gaming machine tax rates which will be introduced on September 1 will provide relief to clubs from the unsustainable increases forced on the industry by the former Government.
"Registered clubs provide high quality facilities and services, jobs and financial support for community, sporting, social and charitable organisations and these changes will enhance this major contribution to NSW.
"The new tax rates will benefit almost 500 clubs and their 3.5 million members and provide an estimated $200 million saving over four years. There is no doubt that this will save many clubs from extinction especially in regional and rural NSW where the local club is the backbone of the town.
"The new ClubGRANTS scheme will deliver benefits of about $90 million over four years to local communities, strengthening the long and proud history of clubs providing community support in a wide range of areas.
"The new scheme will increase 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 support expenditure.
"A new category of expenditure has also been created where a further 0.4 per cent of a club’s gaming machine profit over $1 million that would otherwise be paid in tax will be paid into a new ClubGRANTS Fund.
"This fund will pay for large scale sport, health and community infrastructure projects across the State, amounting to an estimated $10 million a year.
"The changes will also enhance club contributions to professional sport such as the NRL and facilities including golf courses and bowling greens as well as RSL and veterans’ welfare.
"When the Bill was before the Lower House, 21 Government members got to their feet and spoke in favour of the reforms in support of their local clubs and there would have been more if allowed.
"The NSW Government will later introduce more legislation to implement further measures outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding to continue to improve the long term future of clubs.
"We strongly believe that by strengthening clubs we are also strengthening the resilience and vitality of communities across the State."
Issued: Tuesday 23 August 2011 [PDF, 95kb]
The NSW Government will postpone the introduction of laws that require parties to take reasonable steps to resolve their disputes before they commence court proceedings, NSW Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today. Part 2A of the Civil Procedure Act 2005 requires parties to take reasonable steps to resolve their dispute by mutual agreement or to more narrowly define the contentious issues before commencing court action. The provisions were passed in late 2010, but would only have applied to matters filed from 1 October 2011. "A large number of lawyers and clients already take reasonable steps to resolve a civil dispute before resorting to litigation. The new laws were designed to encourage the remainder to do the same," Mr Smith said. "However, since the laws were passed last year, concerns have been raised by a number of key stakeholders that the provisions may have unintended consequences." Mr Smith said the reasonable steps provisions would be postponed by 18 months to enable NSW to monitor the success of similar provisions that commenced in Federal courts on August 1. "The NSW Government will ultimately make informed decisions about the future of Part 2A, using all of the available evidence," Mr Smith said. "Compliance with pre-trial obligations should reduce, not add to, the cost of resolving disputes. The purpose of this postponement is to ensure this is the case."
Issued: Monday 22 August 2011 [PDF, 94kb]
The NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today announced the appointment of Dr Elizabeth Coombs as NSW Privacy Commissioner. Dr Coombs currently works as a consultant on governance and accountability issues, and has undertaken assignments for a range of NSW public sector agencies. Over the past 25 years she has held senior positions within the public sector, including Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Fair Trading, acting Director General of the Department of Juvenile Justice and Assistant Director General of the NSW Premier's Department. Her experience also includes roles in service agencies and state-owned corporations. Since leaving the public service in mid-2007, Dr Coombs has served as Commissioner of the NSW Local Government Grants Commission and as an independent chair of audit and risk committees. Mr Smith said Dr Coombs would be an impartial advocate for the protection of privacy in her new role. "Dr Coombs will help ensure government agencies comply with information protection principles, advise the community on privacy issues and research the impact that developments in technology, policy and the law could have on privacy," Mr Smith said. Dr Coombs will replace John McAteer, who has served as Acting Privacy Commissioner for 13 months. "I thank Mr McAteer for his strong work in raising public awareness about privacy issues and wish Dr Coombs every success in the role," Mr Smith said. Dr Coombs will start as Privacy Commissioner in early November. Her appointment runs for five years.
Issued: Friday 12 August 2011 [PDF, 95kb]
The NSW Government has ordered an independent assessment of the Victims Compensation Scheme with a view to delivering faster and more effective financial support to victims of violent crime. NSW Attorney General Greg Smith told Parliament he was concerned the scheme was unnecessarily complex and that claims were taking too long to be processed. "Victims are often in the greatest need of financial assistance shortly after the crime has been committed against them, when they are faced with expenses for urgent medical and psychological treatment," Mr Smith said. "The NSW Government wants the scheme to provide prompt and practical financial support to victims rather than being a drawn-out process that delivers lump-sum payments to people long after their injuries have been treated." In the 2010-2011 financial year, 4973 claims for victims' compensation were determined and more than 3000 victims received total payments worth $63.2 million in compensation and counselling. However, applications for compensation are taking an average of 20 months to be processed.
The NSW Government will engage independent experts to:
develop a profile of victims eligible for compensation;
examine alternative ways to provide support and rehabilitation services to victims; and,
conduct a comparative assessment of compensation schemes in other jurisdictions.
consider the value and effectiveness of restitution processes
"It is of the utmost importance that NSW has a Victims Compensation Scheme that is effective and sustainable," Mr Smith said. Victims' advocates are supporting the review, with Howard Brown from Victims of Crime Assistance League saying the current process often involved protracted legal action. "We need to identify a method by which already traumatised victims are not financially burdened through their experience," Mr Brown said. "Victims often see the compensation as 'blood money' and refuse to tarnish the reputation of their loved ones by applying." Aside from the compensation scheme, the NSW Government also provides a range of other free services to victims including face-to-face counselling and telephone support. More than 64,000 people called the Victims Access Line (ph: 1800 633 063) in 2010-11, compared with just over 48,000 in the previous year. Eligible victims can also receive up to 10 hours free counselling upfront and apply for more sessions if necessary. More than 6500 people received counselling through this service in 2010-11, up from 6378 in 2009/10.
Thursday 11 August, 2011 [PDF,210kb]
A series of 48 workshops is being staged across the State to support local liquor accords in introducing new measures to reduce alcohol-related violence and anti-social behaviour.
Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Hospitality and Racing George Souris said the Liquor Accords – Step to Success program will boost the capacity of the State‟s 148 liquor accords to develop local ideas and real solutions to local alcohol issues.
"The Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing‟s Liquor Accord Delivery Unit will stage the free workshops across metropolitan, regional and rural NSW over the next nine months," Mr Souris said.
"This year‟s program is aimed at executive members, local police and councils – arming them with a strong knowledge and leadership base to operate a more successful accord.
"It will provide expert advice, information and resources on how to strengthen the operation of accords, deal with current issues and tailor strategies to local areas.
"New resources will be available to accords on branding and marketing opportunities to increase member participation and promote accords to the broader community.
"There will be particular emphasis on the use of dedicated websites, social media such as Facebook and e-newsletters to promote the accord and increase communication with members and key stakeholders.
"Attendees will be provided with up to date information on the liquor laws including the new „three strikes and you‟re out‟ policy for rogue licensees, new photo cards for mandatory Responsible Service of Alcohol training for venue staff, and offence provisions to deal with troublesome patrons.
"Local statistics on alcohol related offences will also be discussed as well as initiatives to reduce alcohol problems during major annual events such as local race days and festivals.
"These workshops also provide a sound opportunity for OLGR and participants to exchange new ideas and stories of successful initiatives that accords have introduced to make their venues and local communities safer.
"Liquor accords are a vital part of our efforts to reduce the impact of alcohol consumption and the operation of licensed venues on local communities.
"NSW has the highest number of liquor accords out of any Australian State and Territory – more than 5,100 pubs, clubs, bottleshops, restaurants, race tracks and even licensed vessels belong to the State‟s 148 Liquor Accords.
"Liquor Accords are voluntary community-based organisations deigned to find local solutions to local alcohol problems with membership including licensees, councils, police, OLGR, the RTA, NSW Health, Ministry of Transport and other business and community groups.
"They have had a great deal of success in addressing local alcohol issues through voluntary strategies such as lockouts and restrictions on high strength alcohol products, security initiatives, patron transport schemes and responsible service of alcohol education campaigns.
"I encourage all executive members of liquor accords and other key stakeholders to attend these worthwhile workshops."
Issued: Thursday 11 August 2011 [PDF, 108kb]
Some of the state's most experienced prosecutors and public defenders will be able to extend their careers by up to seven years, with the compulsory retirement age being raised to 72, NSW Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today. "The NSW Government does not want to see talented crown prosecutors and public defenders forced into retirement prematurely when they are mentally sharp and still have a great deal to offer the NSW justice system," Mr Smith said. The retirement age will be increased from 65 to 72 for a range of positions, including:
Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions
Solicitor for Public Prosecutions
Senior Crown Prosecutors
Deputy Senior Crown Prosecutors
Senior Public Defenders
The new compulsory retirement age will apply to all those appointed to these positions since 1 November 2007. "Increasing the retirement age to 72 will make senior positions within the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Public Defenders Office more desirable, which will help to attract the highest calibre of candidate," Mr Smith said. The changes will mirror existing retirement requirements for judicial officers, the Director of Public Prosecutions, and future Solicitors General. "It is in the interests of consistency and fairness to apply the same retirement age of 72 to these senior statutory positions within the law," Mr Smith said. The NSW Government will also move to increase the independence of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions by removing a requirement that the Executive Director of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions report to the Attorney General. The Executive Director, who is responsible for the efficient and economical management of the functions, resources and activities of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, will continue to report to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Issued: Wednesday 10 August 2011 [PDF, 70kb]
The NSW Government has given its formal support for the introduction of an R18+ classification for computer games, Attorney General Greg Smith SC said today. Mr Smith said after a meeting of Federal and State Attorneys General in Adelaide that he expected NSW would join the agreement. Cabinet has now given its "in-principle" support for the introduction of the R18+ rating. "Few people would dispute the value of a classification system that helps keep adult material beyond the reach of children," Mr Smith said. "With strong classification guidelines in place, an R18+ rating should result in violent games currently rated MA15+ in Australia being reclassified as adults-only, as they already are in many other countries. '' Mr Smith said he would work with other Attorneys General on draft national guidelines that have been developed for a new ratings system. It would be important, he said, to ensure any proposal was in line with Federal and State Ministers' agreement to not dilute Australia's Refused Classification category.
Wednesday 3 August, 2011 [PDF,136kb]
The NSW Government today introduced legislation to Parliament to deliver a $285 million boost for registered clubs and community programs and services across the State.
Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Hospitality and Racing, George Souris, said the
Gaming Machine Tax Amendment Bill reduces tax paid by registered clubs and introduces changes to the Club Community Support Scheme.
"Registered clubs make a major social and economic contribution to NSW by providing high quality facilities and services, jobs and financial and in-kind support for community organisations across the State," Mr Souris said.
"The Liberals and Nationals made a key election commitment to help ensure the sustainability of the club industry to maintain and enhance their unique role in local communities in metropolitan, regional and rural NSW.
"This legislation delivers on that commitment by reducing the gaming machine tax payable by NSW clubs and introducing a new ClubGRANTS scheme.
"This is not a tax cut to poker machine operators, but a lifeline to the struggling registered club movement and its three and a half million members in NSW.
"Since the previous Labor regime’s tax increases, about 100 clubs, many in regional areas, have had to shut their doors and more than 60 clubs amalgamate.
"Changes to gaming machine tax will return an estimated $200 million over the next four years to the club movement and save many clubs from extinction.
"From September 1, reduced gaming machine tax rates will be introduced, benefiting almost 500 clubs of all different sizes across the State.
"And a new ClubGRANTS Scheme will provide an estimated $85million in additional community support from registered clubs over the next four years.
"ClubGRANTS builds on the existing Community Development and Support Expenditure (CDSE) Scheme which provides gaming machine tax rebates to registered clubs if they spend an equivalent amount on approved community development and support."
Community support reforms in this Bill include:
"Not only does this Bill confirm our support for the club movement, it demonstrates our belief that registered clubs deserve real action that delivers tangible benefits," Mr Souris said.
"This legislation forms part of a wider package of reforms under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the NSW Liberals and Nationals and ClubsNSW signed in October last year.
"Further reforms outlined in the MOU will be announced shortly."
The Allen Consulting Group and the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) found NSW clubs employ 44,000 people and spend more than $1.2 billion on wages.
They found that clubs mobilise 44,000 volunteers in support of their core purposes and provide 1,550 bowling greens, 366 golf courses, 163 playing fields, 80 gymnasiums and 66 swimming pools.
"This Bill will add a further 2,000 jobs over four years, save numerous regional clubs and make available millions of extra dollars to community organisations," Mr Souris said.
Issued: Wednesday 3 August 2011 [PDF, 93kb]
One of Australia's leading barristers, Anthony Meagher SC, has been appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of NSW, Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today. "For almost 30 years, Mr Meagher has been practising as a barrister, primarily in the areas of general commercial and equity law," Mr Smith said. Mr Meagher has appeared in matters involving trade practices, media law, corporations (including mergers and acquisitions), insurance, shipping, professional negligence and banking. He was appointed a Senior Counsel in 1995 and has since appeared in a range of significant cases, including the C7 litigation and the South Sydney Rabbitohs' legal battle to overturn its exclusion from the NRL. Mr Meagher has been admitted to the Bar in Victoria, South Australia, ACT, Queensland and Western Australia. He is also an experienced arbitrator who has appeared in international arbitrations, and in some cases has chaired the hearings. Mr Meagher will be sworn in as a judge of the Supreme Court and a judge of Appeal on 10 August.
Issued: Friday 29 July 2011 [PDF, 99.6kb]
One of Australia's largest and most experienced architecture practices has been awarded the contract for the design of the $94 million Newcastle Courthouse, NSW Attorney General Greg Smith announced today. "The appointment of Cox Richardson Architects & Planners will allow detailed design work to start immediately, keeping the project on track for construction to begin in mid-2012," Mr Smith said. Cox Richardson Architects & Planners is the NSW branch of COX, an Australian practice with more than 40 years of experience. COX has worked on a range of major projects, including the design of new courthouses in Queensland and Western Australia. The Newcastle Courthouse, to be built on the Burwood Wedge site in the city's Civic Precinct, will feature at least 10 state-of-the art courtrooms. "For the first time, Newcastle will have court facilities to host large trials involving multiple defendants and up to 15 jurors," Mr Smith said. "Many of the courtrooms will have high definition audio-visual technology which will improve the transmission quality of bail applications made from prison, witness testimony from external locations and recorded evidence." Mr Smith said the building would be among the most secure courthouses in NSW, featuring a cells complex, a network of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras and an X-Ray machine and metal detector for the screening of court users. "Importantly, there will be secure and well-appointed facilities for domestic violence victims and a private room for victims of sexual assault to give 'in camera' evidence to the court," Mr Smith said. Accommodating the Local, District and Supreme Court, the complex will be up to nine storeys high and 20 per cent larger than the city's existing courthouse. "The new courthouse will provide ample facilities for people with a disability, the legal profession, juries, justice agencies and support services," Mr Smith said. The Australian-owned APP Corporation was last month awarded the project management contract. The project is due for completion in 2014.
Wednesday 27 July 2011 [PDF,114kb]
The NSW Government today warned unlicensed alcohol delivery operators that they risk prosecution and having their vehicles and liquor seized by authorities.
Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Hospitality, Racing and the Arts, George Souris, said the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing and police would continue to target unlicensed operators using social media sites to advertise alcohol deliveries 24 hours a day.
Mr Souris said a series of covert operations involving undercover inspectors and police has resulted in enforcement action against two operators for the alleged unlicensed sale of alcohol and the seizing of a car and liquor.
"Unlicensed operators increase the risk of alcohol being supplied irresponsibly and falling into the hands of minors," Mr Souris said.
"Under NSW liquor laws the sale of liquor without a licence is against the law, with a maximum penalty of $11,000 and 12 months imprisonment.
"There are limited exemptions for legitimate businesses delivering gifts such as flowers and food accompanied with a bottle of wine.
"Covert operations – where undercover liquor inspectors have placed phone orders and taken delivery of quantities of beer, spirits and wine – have shown that these operators are not legitimate gift businesses.
"They are not delivering gifts – they are simply delivering alcohol with a packet of chips or popcorn and it is happening in the early hours of the morning.
"Unlicensed alcohol delivery operators are illegal and we will ensure that they are prosecuted to the full extent of the law."
A covert operation by OLGR inspectors on June 25 at Kings Cross resulted in the issuing of $4,840 in fines to two 22-year-old men from Glebe – alleged operators of the Blind Pig and the Beer Baron – for unlicensed sale of alcohol and associated offences.
Further covert operations on July 10 at Randwick and July 24 at Camperdown will result in court prosecution of the man allegedly operating the Blind Pig, for unlicensed sale of alcohol and other offences on two further occasions.
The man’s vehicle and a substantial quantity of beer, spirits and wine were also seized.
"While this is not a widespread problem, OLGR and police will continue to crack down on these unlicensed operators," Mr Souris said.
"My department will continue to examine advertising and marketing including the use of viral marketing and social media networks to identify anyone breaking the liquor laws.
"We will also examine existing legislation and if we think it needs tightening up then that’s exactly what we’ll do.
"The Liberals and Nationals Government has already sent a very strong message that the irresponsible behaviour of rogue traders within the liquor industry will not be tolerated.
"We will continue to take decisive action to ensure operators cannot trade outside the liquor laws which are designed to protect the community from alcohol-related harm."
Wednesday 20 July, [PDF,85kb]
Former Rugby League stars Ashley Gordon and Owen Craigie are staging a range of activities in Sydney as part of a state-wide campaign targeting problem gambling in Aboriginal communities.
Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Hospitality, Racing and the Arts, George Souris, said the campaign is part of the Responsible Gambling Fund’s $2.4 million three-year
Early Intervention, Prevention and Community Engagement Strategy to reach out to those most at risk of developing a gambling problem.
"The NSW Population Health Survey found that four per cent of Aboriginal people felt they had a gambling problem and 10 per cent knew someone with a gambling problem," Mr Souris said.
"This campaign directly engages community members such as Aboriginal elders, local professionals and school students to educate them about the potential impacts of gambling and encourage those with a gambling problem to seek help.
"Under the program Ashley Gordon – an experienced problem gambling counsellor – will run the
NSW Aboriginal Safe Gambling program and meet with service providers supporting Aboriginal people in health, education, employment and housing to discuss problem gambling.
"Government and non-government agencies and interested community members will also take part through a community workshop.
"Reformed problem gambler Owen Craigie will facilitate Mission Australia’s
Gambling Smart Training Program, an intensive two-day training workshop on gambling specifically for health workers servicing Aboriginal communities."
The NSW Aboriginal Safe Gambling problem will be held at:
The Gambling Smart Training Program will be held at:
Emerton (October 11 - 12) at Marrin Weejali Aboriginal Corporation between 10am and 4pm.
Mr Souris said the State-wide Aboriginal problem gambling awareness campaign has been a big success in regional NSW.
"Since its launch in February this year, more than 7,000 people have taken part in 18 problem gambling workshops and community events rolled out across NSW as part of the campaign," Mr Souris said.
"Community events, workshops and training programs promoting the responsible gambling message have taken place in the State’s North West, Central West and North Coast.
"The program will target destinations in Southern and Western NSW later this year."
After a successful career in rugby league, Mr Gordon is now an Aboriginal gambling consultant and works as a researcher with the Centre for Gambling Education and Research at Southern Cross University at Lismore.
"In Indigenous communities gambling can be linked to alcohol and drug abuse, domestic violence, financial hardship, crime and mental health issues," Mr Gordon said.
"I’ve seen these problems first hand during visits to more than 100 Aboriginal communities throughout Australia."
Ashley Gordon played at fullback and wing for the Newcastle Knights and the Penrith Panthers and was named Dally M Winger of the Year in 1990.
Owen Craigie played five-eighth for the Newcastle Knights, Wests Tigers and South Sydney and also represented Australia.
The Responsible Gambling Fund provides more than $12 million a year for problem gambling counselling, research, education and awareness.
Issued: 15 July 2011 [PDF, 80kb]
Attorney General Greg Smith SC has thrown his support behind the annual New South Wales Justice Awards, which honour the extraordinary efforts of those who help the disadvantaged. Nominations for this year's awards close in two weeks and Mr Smith is urging everyone in the community to think about who might deserve recognition for improving access to justice in NSW. The categories are: Justice Medal, Aboriginal Justice Award, Pro Bono Partnership Award, and Law and Justice Volunteer Award. "The Awards recognise unsung heroes in the community – be they lawyers or non-lawyers,'' Mr Smith said. "In fact, most disadvantaged people don't turn to a lawyer when they have a legal problem. They usually rely on friends, community organisations and non-legal professionals for assistance.'' Mr Smith said he was pleased the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, which has been organising the awards for 12 years, had invited him to present this year's Aboriginal Justice Award. Former High Court Chief Justice Sir Anthony Mason has been asked to present the Justice Medal. Rachael Martin, of the Wirringa Baiya Aboriginal Women's Legal Centre – a Statewide service based in inner-city Marrickville - won the Justice Medal last year for her work in making the legal and justice system more accessible for Aboriginal women. Roy "Dootch" Kennedy, a member of the Yuin-Kurie people of the South Coast who has been an advocate for Aboriginal rights, his community and the environment over the past 30 years, won the Aboriginal Justice Award. The Pro Bono Partnership Award went to the team of Blake Dawson and Lou's Place, which provides legal assistance to women in the heart of Kings Cross. Estrella McKinnon, who has been helping those vulnerable to violence or abuse in the Illawarra region for the past 25 years, received the Volunteer Award. The awards ceremony will be held on October 24 at Parliament House. Nominations close on July 29. For more information go to www.lawfoundation.net.au/justice_awards.
Issued: 15 July 2011 [PDF, 33kb]
NSW State Coroner, Magistrate Mary Jerram, today urged parents to make sure their most precious cargo is properly secured in their vehicle, as they return home from school holidays this weekend. "Since July 2000, there have been 27 completed coronial investigations into the deaths of children aged two years or younger in vehicle accidents on NSW roads," Magistrate Jerram said. "Despite the best intentions of their parents, a number of these tragic deaths could have been avoided if their young child had been properly secured in the vehicle." The State Coroner said parents should regularly check that infants are secured in a capsule or other suitable restraint during road trips. "Babies need to be fed and attended to frequently, which means parents are often lifting their child out of the capsule during the journey," Magistrate Jerram said. "The only time it is safe or legal to remove a child from their restraint device is when the vehicle is properly stopped and parked. This allows parents to concentrate on their child and ensures the safety of all involved. "In some instances, parents forget to properly restrain their infant when returning them to the capsule, which can have fatal consequences if their vehicle is in an accident. "Babies are extremely precious and fragile and can suffer serious injuries, even in a minor collision," said Magistrate Jerram. The State Coroner also urged parents to take regular breaks during road trips, not just to manage their fatigue, but also to enable infants to get fresh air. "Babies have been found to experience slightly lower levels of blood oxygen if left for longer periods," Magistrate Jerram said. "In 2009, a Canadian Coroner recommended that young infants should not be left in car seats or capsules for lengthy periods after a two-month-old suffocated after one hour." In NSW, the Road Rules require that:
Children younger than six months must be secured in a rearward facing restraint.
Children aged six months to under 12 months must be secured in either a rearward or forward facing restraint.
Children aged 12 months to under four years must be secured in a forward facing child restraint.
Children aged four years to under seven years must be secured in forward facing child restraint or booster seat.
Children younger than four years cannot travel in the front seat of a vehicle with two or more rows.
Children aged four years to under seven years cannot travel in the front seat of a vehicle with two or more rows, unless all other back seats are occupied by children younger than seven years in a child restraint or booster seat.
For further information about child restraints, including laws and advice on installation, visit www.rta.nsw.gov.au.
Issued: 13 July 2011 [PDF, 92kb]
The Crown has decided to appeal against the sentence handed down to a former South Coast doctor who was found guilty of genital mutilation, Attorney General Greg Smith SC said today. Mr Smith said the Acting Director of Public Prosecutions had advised him the three-and-a-half-year jail term given to Graeme Reeves could be challenged on the grounds that it was "manifestly inadequate". The minimum term is two years. Reeves was found guilty of maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm on Carolyn DeWaegeneire, whose genitals he removed without her consent, and indecently assaulting two other female patients. Reeves, who practised obstetrics in the far South Coast town of Bega without registration, was also convicted of obtaining a financial advantage by deception. When the sentence was handed down on July 1, the Attorney General asked the Acting DPP, Lou Lamprati SC, whether it was open to an appeal. Mr Smith said the Member for Bega and Minister for Ageing and Disability Services, Andrew Constance, had also enquired about an appeal. He said Mr Constance had worked tirelessly to win justice for Mrs DeWaegeneire and other constituents along with other MPs such as the Minister for Health, Jillian Skinner.
Thursday 7 July, 2011 [PDF,51kb]
Frontline problem gambling counselling and support services will receive a record $10.2 million this financial year, Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Hospitality and Racing, George Souris, announced today.
"This year’s allocations represent a 4% increase in annual funding to help services meet rising operating and staff costs".
Mr Souris said the funding has been allocated to 46 counselling and support services operating at more than 200 locations across the State.
He said the NSW Government’s Responsible Gambling Fund (RGF) is continuing to ensure high quality assistance is available where and when it is needed.
"While the overwhelming majority of people enjoy a casual flutter without any impact on their lives, some struggle to keep their gambling under control," Mr Souris said.
"The latest research shows that 0.4 per cent of the adult population in NSW are problem gamblers, with a further 1.2 per cent at moderate risk. Impacts include financial and legal problems, family breakdown, anxiety and depression.
"That is why we fund a range of Gambling Help services to provide free, confidential and effective counselling across the State.
"These services are at the frontline providing high quality counselling to problem gamblers and their families often in difficult circumstances.
"This funding will ensure they continue to have the support they need to provide this important service.
"In addition to mainstream face-to-face counselling, we also provide specialist support services for problem gamblers in the ethnic communities.
"The RGF also funds a Statewide Multicultural Problem Gambling Service which provides counselling and education programs in a range of languages.
"We also fund organisations to provide training and legal advice to counsellors working at all NSW Government-funded problem gambling services across the State. Free legal assistance is also available to problem gamblers and their families.
"I encourage anybody experiencing gambling problems to make the first step to recovery and seek help at one of these services.
"We know that counselling makes a real difference to people’s lives. A recent survey revealed that 93% of clients felt better able to manage their gambling three months after receiving help.
"In addition to this funding, the RGF has also allocated more than $780,000 to the 24- hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week Gambling Helpline (1800 858 858) in 2011-12.
"We are also providing $218,000 this financial year towards the national
Gambling Help Online service which provides live online and email counselling 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week."
The funds are generated by a special tax on Star City Casino, over and above gaming taxation.
For free, confidential help 24 hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week phone
1800 858 858 or visit www.gamblinghelp.nsw.gov.au.
Thursday 7 July, 2011 [PDF,112kb]
The NSW Government has approved an application by NSW Lotteries to introduce a $15 scratch lottery product, Minister for Hospitality, George Souris, announced today.
The maximum prize will be $1 million. "A $10 instant scratchie has been available in NSW for more than 17 years.
"Golden Casket has offered $15 instant lottery tickets in Queensland, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the ACT since 2009.
"I am advised that the $15 tickets represent just five per cent of instant lottery sales by Golden Casket and are generally purchased as gifts on special occasions, Mr Souris said.
The Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing in Queensland has not received any complaints about the introduction of the $15 scratchies.
The Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, today warned retailers and consumers about the Government's decision to ban a number of synthetic cannabinoids, with the law to come into full effect next Friday. "Earlier this week the Minister for Mental Health and Healthy Lifestyles, Kevin Humphries, announced the Government's intent to ban the synthetic cannabinoids contained in herbal smoking products after warnings from doctors and psychiatrists about the harmful effects," Mr Smith said. "People have until Friday, 8 July 2011 before the prohibition on the sale, possession and use of synthetic cannabinoids comes into effect via regulations under the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act. "This means that the synthetic cannabinoid ingredients contained in the herbal smoking products will be prohibited drugs in the same category as cannabis, heroin and cocaine. "In the meantime, retailers of synthetic cannabinoids or products containing synthetic cannabinoids, as well as their customers, should consider themselves warned and immediately take steps to dispose of these substances safely and responsibly." The synthetic cannabinoids may be found in various products with brand names including Kronic, Spice, Kaos, Voodoo, Mango and Northern Lights which have a cannabis-like effect when smoked. Use of these drugs may produce similar effects to cannabis and can raise heart rate, blood pressure and cause anxiety and hallucinations. Of particular concern is their potential for impairing judgment, therefore creating a hazard when an affected person drives or operates machinery. Mr Smith said cannabis and cannabis-like drugs could affect a person's mental health and physical wellbeing. "These are not harmless products," Mr Smith said. "There are clear risks to people's health and safety and the Government has a duty to act." Further information will be available at www.health.nsw.gov.au.
A ceremony will be held at Nowra Courthouse during NAIDOC Week to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and recognise the contributions of Indigenous people to the justice system. "Nowra's Aboriginal Elders and other respected community members have pioneered programs such as Circle Sentencing and Care Circles to give our people a voice in the justice system and to help offenders turn their backs on crime," said Gail Wallace, project officer for Circle Sentencing and Care Circles in Nowra. "Circle Sentencing is now operating at 11 locations in NSW, with the successful Nowra program providing a model for other locations." The NAIDOC ceremony will be held on Tuesday, July 5. The event will include a welcome to country, guest speakers and a spiritual blessing with a didgeridoo player. Nowra Courthouse registrar Craig Cockburn said the ceremony has the full support of the court. "The court has developed a strong and positive working relationship with Nowra's Indigenous community, particularly with the Aboriginal Elders who have provided invaluable advice on cases involving Indigenous victims of crime and offenders," Mr Cockburn said. "The Elders perform the work voluntarily and are driven by a desire to address the difficult and often complex issues facing members of their community. "I encourage local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people, the legal profession and other community members to show their support for Indigenous culture by attending the NAIDOC Week event." NAIDOC ceremony details Where: Courtroom 3, Nowra Courthouse When: 12pm-1pm, Tuesday, 5 July 2011 For more information about NAIDOC Week, visit www.naidoc.org.au.
Issued: Friday 1 July 2011 [PDF, 22kb]
Construction will begin on a new Armidale Courthouse within six months, after Armidale Dumaresq Council approved a development application for the three-storey building, NSW Attorney General Greg Smith announced today. "The $15 million project will provide Armidale with a courthouse that will be significantly larger, more secure and better equipped than the city's existing courthouse, which is more than 150 years old," Mr Smith said. The new 1750m² courthouse will be located on Moore Street, adjacent to Armidale Police Station. The complex will include a local court, a jury court and a multipurpose room that could be used as a court to hear short administrative matters or to assemble jurors. There will also be two jury deliberation rooms. Mr Smith said the new complex would provide ample facilities for victims of crime, the legal profession and other court users. "Domestic violence victims will have access to a private, secure and comfortable area as they wait to be called into court," Mr Smith said. "The courthouse will also include at least seven interview rooms for the legal profession, including some non-contact rooms for lawyers meeting with potentially dangerous clients." Mr Smith said prisoners would be transferred from the police station to the courthouse via a secure passageway. "Providing a direct link between the police station and the court will minimise prisoner contact with the public and reduce the risk of escapes," Mr Smith said. The registry at the new courthouse will make services easier to access and will include:
a computer kiosk to enable court users to browse legal resources on the internet
information boards with brochures on useful legal resources and support services
a split-level enquiries counter to provide easy access to people in a wheelchair
a separate room for lengthy or private transactions.
A secure car park for judicial officers and departmental vehicles will be located in the basement of the courthouse, courtrooms will be located on the ground floor, while the top floor will be used for administrative purposes and to provide chambers for judicial officers. The new Armidale Courthouse is due for completion by March 2013.
Issued: Thursday 30 June 2011 [PDF, 196kb]
The homeless, mentally ill and those with serious addictions will be given the chance to "work off" any unpaid fines under an expanded program announced today by the Attorney General, Greg Smith SC. Mr Smith said the Work Development Orders program involved more than 220 organisations and health professionals, such as Mission Australia, Anglicare, the Matthew Talbot Hostel, Schizophrenia Fellowship and Youth Off The Streets. "The NSW Government does not want to see vulnerable people losing their driver's licence or ending up in jail as a result of escalating fine debt," Mr Smith said. "Work Development Orders give the very disadvantaged a chance to clear their fines by engaging in unpaid work or educational programs. They also give others a strong incentive to engage in mental health treatment and build their job skills."
The Attorney-General said the preliminary results of a two-year trial, which concludes on July 10, had convinced him the scheme should be extended and made permanent. It showed:
At April 30, more than 700 people had been issued with WDOs and reduced $294,000 worth of their fine debt. A further $1,933,755 worth of fine debt is now under management through WDOs.
More than 80 per cent of participants had no further fines or penalties referred for enforcement.
At least 200 people with mental illnesses participated.
The trial was open to the homeless, people with a mental illness, people with an intellectual or cognitive impairment and people experiencing acute financial hardship. It will now be accessible to people with serious addictions to alcohol, illicit drugs and other volatile substances. "Drug and alcohol abuse are often closely linked to criminal behaviour and helping people overcome their addictions will have major benefits to the community," Mr Smith said. The NSW Government will also establish support teams through Legal Aid NSW and the Aboriginal Legal Service in regional areas and give approved organisations and health practitioners responsibility for assessing eligibility for WDOs Father Chris Riley, CEO and Founder of Youth Off The Streets, welcomed the extension of the program. "This is a step in the right direction as we seek to break the cycle of poverty and abuse and work to reduce the chances of a young person ending up on the street again,‟‟ Father Riley said. "We need to ensure that all young people needing assistance as a result of homelessness are given the support and the services needed for them to reach their full potential. "It is not good enough that only one in five homeless young people who need support from services are able to access them. We need to do better." Mr Smith praised the commitment of organisations such as Youth Off The Streets. "These good Samaritans have played a crucial role in the success of Work Development Orders, by operating the programs that have helped disadvantaged people clear their fines and make a positive contribution to society," Mr Smith said.
Issued: Friday 24 June 2011 [PDF, 27kb]
Attorney General Greg Smith has congratulated NSW Drug Court Senior Judge Roger Dive on receiving the prestigious Prime Minister's Award at the 2011 National Drug and Alcohol Awards in Sydney tonight. "I can think of no more worthy recipient of this award, which recognises the difference Judge Dive has made to the lives of hundreds of Drug Court participants who have overcome serious substance abuse problems," Mr Smith said. "Many of the participants would be in jail, were it not for Judge Dive and his team's extraordinary efforts to address the causes of their offending and drug abuse, such as psychological problems, family dysfunction and inadequate education." Judge Dive was involved the development and implementation of the Youth Drug and Alcohol Court, which opened in Parramatta in 2000. In 2005, he was appointed Senior Judge of the adult Drug Court. He has presided over the court during a period of success and growth. In 2008, the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research found the Drug Court was more cost-effective than prison in reducing the rate of re-offending among offenders who had committed drug-related crime. The study also found offenders who completed the program were 37 per cent less likely to be convicted of an offence than offenders who did not enter the Drug Court. The positive outcomes achieved by Judge Dive and his Parramatta-based team resulted in a second Drug Court being opened at Toronto in March to service the Hunter region. Mr Smith said the NSW Government will establish an additional Drug Court in the Sydney metropolitan area, which will include detoxification facilities, drug testing, monitoring and treatment. "The expansion of the Drug Court is a key component of the Coalition Government's plan to reduce recidivism by increasing prisoner access to rehabilitation programs," Mr Smith said. "I look forward to discussing the proposal for a new Drug Court with Judge Dive and utilising his knowledge and expertise." The National Drug and Alcohol Awards are held annually to celebrate achievements in preventing and reducing alcohol and other drug use and harm in Australia. The Prime Minister's Award is the highest honour given at the ceremony. While Judge Dive was unable to attend the ceremony, members of the Drug Court team accepted the award on his behalf and delivered his acceptance speech, in which he said: "I would like to thank and acknowledge all the dedicated individuals and organisations who have worked alongside me at the Drug Court, the Youth Drug and Alcohol Court, and at our Compulsory Drug Treatment Correctional Centre. "It is only by virtue of their continued efforts and skills that the programs have been such a success. "These are exciting times for innovative programs and problem-solving courts, as governments across Australia, and across the world, recognise the success and cost effectiveness of proven programs." Judge Dive established a 'Courts as Solutions' group of magistrates and judges across Australia in 2010. He is also a board member of the International Association of Drug Treatment Courts.
Issued: Friday 24 June 2011 [PDF, 117kb]
The New South Wales Crown Advocate, Lloyd Babb SC, will be the States' next Director of Public Prosecutions, Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today. Mr Babb, 44, has an extensive and distinguished background in criminal law. He has prepared cases for trial as a solicitor, first in private practice and then at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. He has argued cases on both sides of the bar table – first as a crown prosecutor and then later as a public defender. He has also worked as an adviser to the NSW Government on legal matters, as head of the Criminal Law Division of the Department of Attorney General and Justice and, since 2007, as Crown Advocate. As part of that role, he also conducted matters on behalf of the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions and appeared for the Crown, Attorney General and other government agencies. He was appointed a Senior Counsel in 2007. "Mr Babb has proven himself to be a lawyer of the highest quality, who is well versed with all aspects of criminal law,'' Mr Smith said. "I can also vouch for him personally, having worked with him when he was a solicitor, a crown prosecutor and in his subsequent roles.'' Mr Smith said a selection committee advised him on suitable candidates. It was comprised of the Chief Judge of the District Court, Justice Reg Blanch AM QC (a former DPP), the Commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption David Ipp AO QC, leading barrister Tim Game SC and solicitor Robyn Gray. He said the committee had recommended Mr Babb as "having the necessary strength and resilience" for the position and advised that he had a "genuine interest in making a long-term contribution and difference to the office of the director of Public Prosecutions, its work and its people." Mr Babb will take up his position on 18 July. The appointment is for 10 years.
Issued: Friday 24 June 2011 [PDF, 124kb]
The NSW Government will take a leading role in the national regulation of the legal profession, NSW Attorney General Greg Smith announced today. "Lawyers, law practices and consumers alike will benefit from these national reforms,'' Mr Smith said. "Streamlined legislation and a uniform set of national rules will result in simpler regulation, greater flexibility within the regulatory system and consistent consumer protections across Australia." The Council of Australian Governments, with the exception of South Australia and Western Australia, gave in-principle agreement to the proposed national scheme at its February 2011 meeting. The reforms are part of COAG's commitment to deliver a seamless national economy. "As the dominant player in the Australian legal services market, Sydney would be the most appropriate place to establish the new national regulators, the National Legal Services Board and Commissioner," Mr Smith said. The proposed scheme will substantially reduce red tape for the legal profession and provide uniform protection for consumers against overcharging and other misconduct. "NSW lawyers are trusted advisors to local and international businesses and the legal profession also plays an essential role in ensuring access to justice for our community. Less red tape will allow lawyers to spend more time servicing the needs of this diverse range of consumers." "In addition, a single national practising certificate will entitle NSW legal practitioners, many of whom are leaders in their field, to practise in any location across Australia." The national law will protect consumers by placing an overriding duty on law practices to:
charge fair and reasonable legal costs;
take reasonable steps to satisfy themselves that the client understands and consents to the proposed course of action and costs; and,
ensure that a principal of their practice takes responsibility for bills for legal services (in cases of overcharging, the principal could be subject to disciplinary proceedings, along with other practitioners who issued or authorised the bill).
There is also a new consumer complaints regime designed to resolve disputes with law practices more efficiently. The process, to be conducted by independent bodies in each State and Territory, will encourage parties to reach an agreement through mediation. "A range of new, more flexible, remedies will be available to assist in resolving disputes between consumers and lawyers, giving consumers access to the types of resolutions that they have told the Reform Taskforce they want,'' Mr Smith said. "Often, a simple apology is all that the consumer is after." In NSW, the Office of the Legal Services Commissioner would continue to handle complaints and investigate allegations of unsatisfactory professional conduct and professional misconduct. The package for national regulation of the legal profession was developed in consultation with Attorneys General, the courts, the legal profession and consumers. More than 160 submissions on the reforms were received during the consultation period last year. COAG is expected to consider the reforms next month.
Tuesday 21 June, 2011 [PDF,139kb]
Licensed venues repeatedly committing serious breaches of the liquor laws could be stripped of their liquor licences under legislation to be introduced to Parliament by the NSW Government.
Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Hospitality and Racing George Souris has announced details of the NSW Liberals & Nationals „
three strikes and you’re out’ policy, which fulfils a key election promise and a commitment under the 100 Day Action Plan.
Mr Souris said the tough approach sends a clear message to repeat offenders that they face severe penalties if they do not improve venue operations to reduce intoxication and violence.
"Under the policy, a pub, club, bottle shops, restaurant or any licensed venue would record a strike for repeated breaches of a range of offences under the Liquor Act which result in unacceptable impacts on local communities," Mr Souris said.
"These offences include permitting intoxication, allowing violent behaviour on the premises, supplying alcohol to a minor or an intoxicated patron, permitting the sale or use of illicit drugs on the premises and breaching key licence conditions."
Mr Souris explained that a first strike would automatically be imposed after three offences in 12 months. A second strike could be imposed if a venue commits two additional offences in the 12 months since the first strike. If the offences are the same as those which led to the first strike then a second strike is automatically incurred.
A third strike could be recorded after another offence within 12 months of the second strike. Under the policy, it would not necessarily take three years for an irresponsible venue to lose its licence.
"Where a major offence has resulted in serious injuries, a strike could be imposed after just one offence," Mr Souris said.
"After three strikes, a licensee can be permanently disqualified and banned from holding a liquor licence.
"A 12 month prohibition would be placed on the granting of a new liquor licence for the premises if the venue is operated by the same entity".
Mr Souris said that in recognition of the unique role registered clubs played in local communities across the State, clubs which recorded three strikes would not lose their liquor licence.
"Cancellation of a registered club‟s licence would have devastating impacts on members who would not have been at fault for the behaviour of management or staff.
"Instead, a club secretary would be subject to permanent disqualification from the industry.
"Recognising sustained improvements in behaviour, venues free of incidents for 12 months would have a strike removed.
"Venues subject to „strikes‟ could also face escalating penalties in the form of licence conditions and restrictions."
These include bans on glass and the imposition of responsible service of alcohol marshals for venues with one strike.
A second strike would result in licence suspension for up to six months; reduced trading hours; lockouts; drink restrictions and extra security measures. A third strike would result in permanent disqualification from holding a liquor licence.
The relative size of the licensed premises, the number of patrons, the venue‟s compliance and incident history and offences that have been successfully defended or withdrawn would also be taken into account under the „
three strikes and you’re out’ policy.
"A licensed venue will be able to make a submission before a decision to impose a strike is made," Mr Souris said.
"Licensed venues would also be able to request a review of decisions under the ‘three strikes and you’re out’ policy by the Administrative Decisions Tribunal.
"Alcohol-related violence and anti-social behaviour is a significant concern for the community.
"The NSW Liberals & Nationals Government is implementing a range of election commitments to tackle irresponsible alcohol service and consumption and the associated community impacts such as neighbourhood disturbance, offensive behaviour, vandalism, and assaults.
"We are reinforcing the need for personal responsibility with expanded Police move on powers, a new intoxicated and disorderly offence, and a trial of sobering up centres.
"Through the ‘three strikes and you’re out’ policy, the NSW Government is also taking action to apply tough sanctions to licensed venues repeatedly associated with serious offences under the liquor laws.
"Legislation will be introduced to Parliament shortly to implement the ‘three strikes and you’re out’ policy," Mr Souris concluded.
Issued: Friday 17 June 2011 Flood-related road closures have prevented one northern NSW courthouse from operating today. The court registry at Macksville is open however court sittings for the 16 and 17 June have been postponed. All parties involved in matters that are postponed will be contacted by the court and advised of a new sitting date.
Issued: Thursday 16 June 2011 Flood-related road closures have affected some northern NSW courthouses operations today. Local court sittings at Macksville have been cancelled and some matters adjourned to Coffs Harbour. Local court registries are open at Macksville, Bellingen (may close later today), Kempsey, Taree and Port Macquarie. All parties involved in matters that are postponed will be contacted by the court and advised of a new sitting date.
Issued: Wednesday 15 June 2011 Flood-related road closures have prevented one northern NSW courthouse from operating today. The court registry at Bellingen is closed today, as road closures have prevented court staff from travelling to work. Court sittings are unaffected as there are no scheduled sittings this week at this location.
Issued: Tuesday 14 June 2011 Flood-related road closures have prevented two northern NSW courthouses from operating today. Court registries at Grafton and Bellingen are closed today, as road closures have prevented court staff from travelling to work. Court sittings are unaffected as there are no scheduled sittings this week at those locations.
Thursday 9 June, 2011 [PDF,110kb]
Following the Premier’s direction to ban bikie colours from licensed venues in Kings Cross, The Minister for Hospitality, George Souris, has instructed his Department to take immediate action to deal with the issue.
"I am concerned that policy initiatives from the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) and NSW Police need to ensure better outcomes for the community.
"The NSW Police will now lodge a fresh application with updated evidence to make the banning of bikie gang colours mandatory in a number of licensed venues in Kings Cross.
"The Director-General, NSW Trade and Investment, will expedite his decision on this matter.
"In addition, I am also announcing that a from next Tuesday (14 June), Superintendent Patrick Paroz, Commander of Drug and Alcohol Enforcement, will be seconded to OLGR as Acting Director, Compliance, for a period of three months.
"This will ensure a much closer working relationship between OLGR and NSW Police and embed and formalise arrangements for collaboration between the two agencies over important liquor licensing policy and compliance.
"This development follows consultations today between Barry Buffier, Deputy Director-General of NSW Trade and Investment and the Deputy Police Commissioner Dave Owens, with the imprimatur of the Premier and me.
"As the Premier has already indicated, the Coalition Government is determined to ensure the safety of visitors to Kings Cross and that the powers provided under the liquor and gaming legislation are applied appropriately and decisions are based on evidence," Mr Souris said.
Issued: Thursday 9 June 2011 [PDF, 73kb]
The NSW Government has ordered a comprehensive review of the Bail Act, amid concerns juveniles have been unfairly victimised, NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell and Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today. "I'm concerned that juveniles charged with petty offences are being forced to mix with hardened criminals while on remand and that could influence them towards a life of crime," Mr O'Farrell said. "This is particularly disturbing when many of the young offenders are eventually released by the courts without any custodial sentence," he said. A retired Supreme Court judge, the Honourable Hal Sperling QC, will lead the NSW Law Reform Commission project. The Act had been amended 17 times since it was introduced 33 years ago. "The Bail Act has become a patchwork quilt that is difficult to read and understand. Every time Labor tried to 'clarify' the law they only created more confusion," he said. Mr Smith said a change in 2007, which allowed only one bail application unless there was a 'change in circumstances', had a dramatic effect on juveniles. In 2006, there were 3623 minors admitted to remand, but in 2008 this figure jumped to 5082. Another change in 2009 made it slightly easier to make another bail application but contained no special provision for juveniles. Currently, only 20 per cent of those on remand end up with a sentence of detention. "I am concerned the Bail Act had moved away from the spirit and intent of the original legislation. This was to ensure attendance at a hearing or trial, to stop defendants from committing further offences and to prevent interference with witnesses," he said. "We need to get smarter about law and order. While protection of the public is an important factor, merely being charged should not mean that you end up in jail. "The presumption of innocence must remain at the heart of bail laws," he said. Mr Sperling will deliver his report by November.
Wendesday 8 June, 2011 [PDF,118kb]
The NSW Government is taking steps to ensure lotteries customers can request an independent review if there is a dispute over a non payment of a valid prize.
Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Hospitality, Racing and the Arts, George Souris, said the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) has powers to investigate disputes between NSW Lotteries and customers over the non payment of valid prizes.
Mr Souris said OLGR has requested that NSW Lotteries promote the independent investigative process to its customers following a review of the information it provides on complaints handling.
"To ensure the public is being adequately informed of their rights, I requested my department undertake a review of the Complaint Handling Charter used by NSW Lotteries," he said.
"The review identified that neither brochures available at lotteries retail outlets nor the Complaint Handling Charter on the NSW Lotteries website contains any information about the role of OLGR as an independent investigative body.
"While NSW Lotteries has a complaints handling process including a mechanism to review decisions, OLGR’s role is to independently examine any dispute over the non payment of a valid prize where the complainant is not satisfied with the response by NSW Lotteries.
"To assist the public to determine their options in these cases, OLGR has requested that the following information be included on the NSW Lotteries website including in its Complaint Handling Charter as soon as possible:
"If your prize claim has been rejected and you would like an independent review of the decision, please contact the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing, Level 6, 323 Castlereagh Street, Haymarket NSW 2001. Email: email@example.com or telephone (02) 9995 0837."
"While this is not in response to a rise in complaints or any particular case, it is imperative that lotteries customers are aware of this independent review process and that it is promoted at the point of sale and on the NSW Lotteries website," he said.
"The non payment of a valid prize is a breach of NSW Lotteries licences and OLGR has the power to order that it be rectified or disciplinary action could be taken. It is also an offence for a person to lodge a claim for a prize they know is false or misleading.
"OLGR has also placed information about its role in reviewing disputes about the non payment of valid lottery prizes in a prominent position on its website."
Issued: Wednesday 1 June 2011 [PDF, 89kb]
The Attorney General, Greg Smith SC, has welcomed Tom Bathurst QC as the State's new Chief Justice at a ceremonial sitting of the NSW Supreme Court today. Mr Smith said Mr Bathurst's appointment followed an exceptional career as a barrister and stints as president of both the Australian Bar Association and the NSW Bar Association. Mr Smith welcomed the Chief Justice's stated goals of making justice more accessible and more affordable - and of making full use of the technology to serve those ends. "Mr Bathurst brings to the position an enviable reputation, a wealth of experience and a commitment to public service,'' said the Attorney General. "I am sure he will make an outstanding contribution to the administration of justice in NSW."
Issued: Tuesday 31 May 2011 [PDF, 88kb]
Attorney General Greg Smith SC has paid tribute to the outgoing Chief Justice of NSW, James Spigelman AC in a ceremony at the Supreme Court today. Mr Smith said the Chief Justice had served the State with distinction for the past 13 years. "James Spigelman has been an outstanding Chief Justice,'' Mr Smith said. "He has led a happy and productive court, delivered outstanding judgements and inspired thoughtful debate on the law.'' Mr Smith said the Supreme Court under the Chief Justice had introduced important reforms that cut waiting times, reduced costs and embraced technology. The Chief Justice had also forged important links with overseas courts that made Sydney a hub for commercial law in the Asia-Pacific. "James Spigelman has made an immense contribution to the political, legal, cultural and intellectual life of NSW and Australia,'' Mr Smith said. "I wish him, and his family, well.''
Issued: Tuesday 31 May 2011 [PDF, 194kb]
Courts will be given powers to disqualify graffiti vandals from driving under new legislation to be introduced into Parliament today, honouring another election commitment, NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell and Attorney General Greg Smith SC said. "The public are sick and tired of waking up to find trains, schools, fences and other buildings marred by ugly graffiti tags. It's costing the community well over $100 million a year, including around $50 million just by RailCorp," Mr O'Farrell said. "The time has come to not only make offenders clean up their mess but also face tough penalties – and as the father of a teenager, I understand there's nothing more valuable to young people than their driver's licence," he said. "Magistrates will be empowered to put offenders on licence restrictions, reduce the offender's number of demerit points or disqualify them from driving altogether." The NSW Government 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, or - suspend a driver licence, or - limit the number of demerit points they are able to accrue over a specific period;
require cleaning up graffiti a condition of any court imposed Community Service Orders on graffiti offenders.
"BOCSAR figures show over two-thirds of graffiti offenders identified by police are under the age of 18 and over 50 per cent were young males," Mr O'Farrell said Mr Smith said graffiti imposes a real cost on businesses, individuals and local councils. It also makes our communities less attractive places to live and families feel less safe. "Our plan to tackle graffiti in local communities balances penalties for young people who do the wrong thing and offers positive incentives to break a developing juvenile habit," he said. "The introduction of stronger penalties for offenders and a scheme to ensure graffiti is promptly detected and removed will discourage vandals, improve public safety and build community pride," Mr Smith said.
Issued: Thursday 2 June 2011 [PDF, 202kb]
People in Nambucca Heads will be able to obtain free legal help as part of a new service announced today by the Chief Executive Officer of Legal Aid NSW, Alan Kirkland. From 9 June 2011 a lawyer funded by Legal Aid NSW will be on hand on the second Thursday of each month to provide legal advice and assistance for a range of problems such as: credit and debt
credit and debt
Centrelink benefits disputes
family law and care and protection matters
apprehended domestic violence orders.
Mr Kirkland said that the new service has been established to respond to gaps in the availability of legal assistance, particularly in rural communities. "Through this program we can provide a regular service to people living in and around Nambucca Heads, particularly those who can't afford to see a private lawyer and can't easily travel to our Coffs Harbour office," said Mr Kirkland. "Legal advice can help if, for example, you are having trouble paying your credit card bills, have separated from a partner and need advice about care arrangements for children, or if you are having problems with Centrelink. "If a client has a problem which needs to be pursued, they will be referred to an appropriate service that can provide further help." The free legal advice and minor assistance clinic will be held on the second Thursday of every month at The Roundabout (next door to Nambucca Family Day Care Office), 157 Mann Street, Nambucca Heads, from 10 am to 1 pm. To make an appointment call: (02) 6562 1888
Wednesday 1 June, 2011 [PDF,57kb]
NSW Labor and the Greens should be condemned for theirs vote against a Parliamentary motion calling on the Prime Minister to abandon her deal with Tasmanian Independent Andrew Wilkie ‘which will harm the New South Wales clubs’, Minister for Tourism and Hospitality, George Souris said.
The motion also asked the Opposition leader to declare whether he supported the mandatory or voluntary pre-commitment scheme.
"It is shameful and contemptible that 19 Labor MP’s and the lone Green MP voted against this motion which simply asked Members to show solidarity with the club movement, its members, employees and the communities they support, Mr Souris said".
"The Member for Liverpool’s attempt to introduce an amendment claiming this was a Federal issue that should not be debated in the NSW Parliament demonstrates breath-taking ignorance which must surely outrage the thousands of club members in his electorate and those many community organisations which benefit from those clubs.
"The same goes for the other 18 Labor MP’s and the Balmain Green who cynically voted against supporting NSW clubs.
"The position of the NSW Opposition is not supported by their Labor colleagues from other states.
"At the recent COAG meeting in Canberra, all States and Territories, including the three Labor States, voted against the Gillard/Wilkie scheme and for voluntary pre-commitment".
Mr Souris said the NSW Opposition Leader, John Robertson and his colleagues, should now be held to account for their attitude in abandoning State rights and the interests of their constituents.
Mr Souris pointed out that there were about 1400 clubs in NSW with a combined membership of almost six million and employing 45,000.
"It is estimated that the Gillard/Wilkie scheme would cost at least 16,000 jobs and about $3 billion in technology installation costs and loss of revenue.
"All club members and the many beneficiaries of clubs’ community support in these Labor electorates should contact their local members and let them know just what they think of their decision not to show the same support that their interstate colleagues have shown.
"I can assure the public that the Liberal/National Government will never abandon the interests of NSW clubs and will do everything in our power to overturn this ill-conceived and dangerous Gillard/Wilkie scheme".
Monday 30 May 2011 [PDF,160kb]
New South Wales voices its strenuous objections to the Gillard/Wilkie to force mandatory pre-commitment on Australian poker machine players.
The NSW Minister for Hospital and Tourism, George Souris, pointed out that tomorrow was the deadline that Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie set the Gillard Government to deliver State and Territory agreement on mandatory pre-commitment, dynamic warnings/cost of play displays and a $250 daily withdrawal limit on ATMs in venues with poker machines (excluding casinos).
"This is part one of the „deal‟. Part 2 requires the Commonwealth to override the State and Territory legislation by May 2012 if there is agreement.
"Despite this threat, we all remain steadfast in opposing this poorly thought out scheme by this one Member who is holding the Federal Government and the people of Australia to ransom," said Mr Souris.
"And it‟s no surprise that even senior Labor official and liquor and hospitality workers‟ union secretary Tara Moriarty, has criticised the deal, warning that thousands of jobs were at risk if mandatory pre-commitment was forced upon the States".
Mr Souris has called on independents, especially those from NSW, in the Federal Parliament to heed their constituents and put an end to this plan which would not only see employment in the club industry plummet, but would severely adversely affect the support provided to their communities.
"I call on these Independents to join with the Federal Opposition in opposing the destructive plan.
"There is no doubt that this scheme would sound the death knell of some clubs and many communities would suffer greatly due to lost revenue and the inability of clubs to support local organisations and supply subsidised meals, entertainment and other facilities .
"The Federal Government has produced no evidence that mandatory pre-commitment would lower the incidence of problem gambling. In fact, in NSW, with its harm minimisation program, the incidence of problem gambling has declined from 2 per cent of gamblers a decade ago to just 0.4 per cent today. "A report tabled by the South Australian Government and supported by NSW at the recent COAG meeting, found that a voluntary pre-commitment scheme offered „greater net benefits‟ to problem gamblers that a mandatory system.
"Poker machines are already highly regulated by the States and we believe that a voluntary pre-commitment system would benefit both gamblers and registered clubs.
"The Gillard/Wilie plan would cost NSW clubs up to three billion dollars in technology application and lost revenue, as well as 16,000 jobs, according to Clubs NSW."
Mr Souris said the principle of State rights was also an issue and re-iterated that the NSW Government would never support any measure that harms its communities.
"The expedient and unresearched Gillard/Wilkie scheme is not the answer and the Liberal/National Coalition Government will continue its fight to ensure the State‟s jobs are preserved and communities protected.
Issued: Friday 27 May 2011 [PDF, 203kb]
People in Orange will be able to obtain free legal help as part of a new service announced today by the Chief Executive Officer of Legal Aid NSW, Alan Kirkland.
From 1 June 2011, lawyers funded by Legal Aid NSW will be on hand on the first Wednesday of each month to provide legal advice and assistance for a range of problems such as:
Mr Kirkland said the new service has been established to respond to gaps in the availability of legal assistance, particularly in rural communities.
"The nearest Legal Aid civil law service is over 150 km away in Dubbo. Through this program we can provide a regular service to people living in and around Orange, particularly those who can't afford to see a private lawyer," Mr Kirkland said.
"Legal advice can help if, for example, you are having trouble paying your credit card bills, have separated from a partner and need advice about care arrangements for children, or if you are having problems with Centrelink.
"If a client has a problem which needs to be pursued, they will be referred to an appropriate service that can provide further help."
The free legal advice and minor assistance clinic will be held on the first Wednesday of every month at Orange Courthouse, corner of Lords Place and Byng Street, Orange, from 9 am to 12 pm.
To make an appointment call (02) 6365 2634
Friday 27 May, 2011 [PDF,116kb]
The O‟Farrell Government has joined other States and Territories in unanimously and formally opposing the Federal Government‟s mandatory pre-commitment scheme.
The Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Hospitality, Racing and The Arts, George Souris, told the Council Of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting today that NSW opposed the „Gillard-Wilkie‟ scheme because there was no evidence it would effectively address problem gambling and it would certainly devastate local clubs and communities.
Mr Souris, said all States and Territories supported a voluntary scheme that was venue-based and cost effective.
They also unanimously agreed on a number of other initiatives, including:
Investigating methods of regulating online gamblin
Considering the implementation of dynamic warnings following the results of trials in Queensland
"The NSW Government is not willing to jeopardise thousands of jobs and endanger vital community programs across the State for a scheme that will not even effectively address problem gambling," Mr Souris said.
"A mandatory pre-commitment scheme is inconsistent with the Productivity Commission‟s recommendations and the Federal Government has not provided any evidence that it would make a difference to problem gambling.
"In fact, in NSW, the incidence of problem gambling in Australia has dropped from two per cent of the population 10 years ago to 0.4 per cent now so our harm minimisation programs must be working.
"We also oppose the proposed $250 cash withdrawal limit from ATMs and EFTPOS facilities in gaming venues, which would severely restrict the ability of people in regional and remote areas to safely conduct their banking where ATM access is limited," Mr Souris said.
"NSW already requires ATMs to be located away from gaming areas and bans cash withdrawals from credit card accounts inside licensed venues.
Mr Souris said NSW was committed to implementing proven effective measures designed with the clear objective of minimising gambling-related harm.
"Poker machines are already highly regulated by the States. The Federal Government should concentrate on regulating other forms of gambling and that‟s why NSW supports a more effective prohibition of online gambling and better regulation of the quoting of betting odds during live sporting telecasts," he said.
"A mandatory pre-commitment system would drive punters away from licensed venues to underground or online gambling sites, where the risk for under-age and problem gambling would be much worse.
"The Federal Government‟s proposal would see poker machine revenues in NSW slashed and that means losing jobs and even whole venues.
"These venues provide much-needed support for their local communities, including food and entertainment outlets, social meeting places for seniors as well as financial and in kind support for grassroots sport and community organisations".
In NSW, there are 546 registered clubs in metropolitan areas and 829 in regional areas with a total club membership of almost six million.
Regional club generate almost 26,000 jobs and metropolitan clubs almost 19,000 jobs.
The cost to NSW clubs would be somewhere between two and three billion dollars in technology installation and revenue loss as well as more than 16,000 jobs.
"The NSW Government will not support any measure that harms our communities, rather than helps them. The Federal Government‟s pre-commitment scheme is not the answer," Mr Souris said.
"The O‟Farrell Government will make sure that the voices of NSW communities are heard, jobs preserved and communities protected."
Issued: 25 May 2011 [PDF, 95kb]
Experienced lawyer Ashley Black has been appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of NSW, Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced today. For the past 16 years, Mr Black has been a partner at Mallesons Stephen Jaques in Sydney and has appeared in a range of high profile commercial litigation cases. Mr Black holds a Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Laws and a Masters of Laws from the University of Sydney and received first class honours for all three degrees. He was also awarded the Law Graduates Association Medal in his Masters of Laws. He was admitted as a solicitor in 1987 and was a Judge's Associate in the Federal Court of Australia in 1988. Mr Black joined Mallesons Stephen Jaques in 1989, where he remained until his appointment as a judge. Mr Black has authored or contributed to 37 legal publications, including a leading Australian text on securities and financial services law and Austin & Black's Annotated Corporations Act. He is an Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Sydney and a Visiting Fellow in the Faculty of Law at the University of New South Wales. "Mr Black is a highly respected legal practitioner and his appointment to the Supreme Court is well-deserved," Mr Smith said. Mr Black will be sworn in as a Supreme Court judge on Monday, 4 July 2011.
Wednesday May 25, 29011 [PDF,218kb]
Three-quarters of State‟s most violent pubs and clubs have recorded reductions in violent incidents since special conditions including lockouts, bans on glass and alcohol restrictions were imposed six months ago.
Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Hospitality and Racing, George Souris, welcomed the results of the latest review of violent venues subject to special conditions using updated alcohol-related incident data.
Mr Souris said violent incidents had dropped at 74% of the venues which have been subject to special conditions since last December, with pubs and clubs in regional areas recording some of the biggest reductions.
"The NSW Government is committed to changing the culture of alcohol-related anti-social behaviour in NSW and although I am happy with the results, I am certain we can do even better," Mr Souris said.
"Some 31 out of the 42 licensed venues which have been subject to the conditions are now safer, with fewer alcohol-related incidents.
"As a result of reduced incident rates, 16 venues have been removed from the list."
Mr Souris today released a revised list of violent venues to be subject to special conditions from June.
"In total there will be 9 Level 1 venues and 35 Level 2 venues subject to special conditions for six months from June," Mr Souris said.
"The review has resulted in 18 venues where violence is increasing being added to the list. These pubs and clubs must lift their game and reduce the negative impacts.
"For the second time there are no Level 1 venues in the Sydney CBD.
"The NSW Liberals and Nationals Government is determined to increase safety in and around licensed venues by targeting drunken troublemakers and irresponsible licensees impacting on local communities.
"We are doing this by strengthening police „move on powers‟, introducing the new offence of „drunk and disorderly‟ and trialling „sobering up centres‟, ensuring people take personal responsibility for their actions.
"The Government also intends to pursue the development of a „three-strikes policy‟ in coming months.
"The Government will also shortly introduce its „three strikes and you‟re out‟ policy to strip rogue licensed venues of their liquor licences. This tough approach to curbing alcohol-related violence demonstrates the NSW Government‟s commitment to addressing this problem."
Restrictions to apply to Level 1 venues (19 or more violent incidents in a year) are:
Level 2 venues (12 to 18 violent incidents in a year) must comply with these conditions:
Licensees failing to comply with special conditions face penalties of up to 12 months in jail and an $11,000 fine.
Monday May 23, 2011 [PDF,152kb]
Responsible Gambling Awareness Week, which begins today, is a timely reminder to all punters to take stock of their gambling activities and confine them to what is truly affordable, the NSW Minister for Hospitality and Racing, George Souris, said today.
"While the vast majority of Australians are able to enjoy a casual flutter without any harm, there are those who struggle to keep their gambling under control," Mr Souris said.
"The latest research shows that 0.4 per cent of people in NSW are problem gamblers who develop serious problems including, financial distress, relationship issues and family breakdown and physical and mental health problems such as sleeplessness, anxiety and depression.
Held across Australia from 23 to 29 May 2011, the sixth annual Responsible Gambling Awareness Week aims to raise community awareness of problem gambling and highlight the free services and resources available to those who need help.
"Responsible Gambling Awareness Week aims to raise community awareness of problem gambling, highlight the resources available to help those in need and promote the importance of responsible gambling practices at a personal and community level.
"From information booths in St George and Sutherland hospitals, to a multicultural open day in Auburn, a Gambling Help barbecue in the Hunter and promotional materials in pubs and clubs in Broken Hill, a range of awareness activities will take place all around NSW."
Mr Souris pointed out that the NSW Government provided free, confidential help to problem gamblers and their families via the Responsible Gambling Fund and its range of Gambling Help services.
"People in NSW can access face-to-face counselling at more than 200 locations across the State as well as phone and internet counselling 24 hours a day, seven days a week," he said.
"If gambling is becoming a problem for you or someone you care about, please access the free information and expert advice on offer."
For free, confidential help 24 hours a day, seven days a week phone 1800 858 858 or visit www.gamblinghelp.nsw.gov.au.
RESPONSIBLE GAMBLING AWARENESS WEEK: 23-29 MAY 2011
Signs of problem gambling
It is important to note that an individual with gambling problems will not necessarily exhibit all these behaviours.
Problem gambling services in NSW
The Responsible Gambling Fund (RGF) provides more than $12 million a year for problem gambling counselling, research and education and awareness including :
A Gambling Help survey in 2010 found that 93% of clients were better able to manage their gambling three months after receiving help.
Problem gambling research
In 2009 the NSW Population Health Survey found the State’s problem gambling rate to be 0.4% of the adult population, with a further 1.2% deemed at moderate risk.
The Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing is currently in the process of commissioning a new study into problem gambling prevalence in NSW, which will be the largest survey of its kind to date. The survey is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
2011 Awareness Week activities in NSW
Issued: Thursday 19 May 2011
People in Tenterfield can now obtain free legal help as part of a new service announced today by the Chief Executive Officer of Legal Aid NSW, Alan Kirkland.
From 24 May 2011, lawyers funded by Legal Aid NSW will be on hand on the fourth Tuesday of each month to provide legal advice and assistance for a range of problems, including:
Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders.
Mr Kirkland said the new service has been established to respond to gaps in the availability of legal assistance, particularly in rural communities. "The nearest Legal Aid office is over 160 km away in Lismore. Through this program, we can provide a regular service to people living in and around Tenterfield, particularly those who can't afford to see a private lawyer," Mr Kirkland said. "Legal advice can help if, for example, you are having trouble paying your credit card bills, have separated from a partner and need advice about care arrangements for children, or if you are having problems with Centrelink. "If a client has a problem which needs to be pursued, they will be referred to an appropriate service that can provide further help."
The free legal advice and minor assistance clinic will be held on the fourth Tuesday of every month at:
94 Molesworth Street, Tenterfield
11 am – 2 pm
To make an appointment call (07) 6772 1322
People in Bega can now obtain free legal help as part of a new service announced today by the Chief Executive Officer of Legal Aid NSW, Alan Kirkland.
From today, lawyers funded by Legal Aid NSW will be on hand on the third Thursday of each month to provide legal advice and assistance for a range of problems such as:
"The nearest Legal Aid civil law service is over 260 km away in Nowra. Through this program we can provide a regular service to people living in and around Bega particularly those who can't afford to see a private lawyer," Mr Kirkland said.
The free legal advice and minor assistance clinic will be held on the third Thursday of every month at the:
Far South Community College
32 Church Street, Bega
From 10 am – 1 pm
To make an appointment call (02) 4474 0700
Issued: Thursday 19 May 2011 [PDF, 98kb]
A major redevelopment of the John Maddison Tower (JMT) court complex will begin today, with NSW Attorney General Greg Smith SC announcing details of a $4.34 million contract for stage one of the project. The first stage will involve a redevelopment of two-and-a-half floors of John Maddison Tower to provide the Dust Diseases Tribunal and the Administrative Decisions Tribunal (ADT) with state-of-the-art headquarters," Mr Smith said. The new facilities include courtrooms, tribunal rooms, registries, interview rooms, chambers and offices as well as video-link technology and additional security. "The Dust Diseases Tribunal will also have a sick room for seriously ill plaintiffs and a large witness box to enable multiple experts to take the stand together and give concurrent evidence - a practice known as „hot tubbing‟,‟‟ Mr Smith said. "Hot tubbing allows expert witnesses to discuss their evidence and eliminate or narrow issues in dispute, which can reduce the length and cost of a hearing." The contract for stage one of the redevelopment has been awarded to Donnelley Constructions. The Sydney company is expected to complete the project within three months. Court sittings will not be affected. The Administrative Decisions Tribunal, currently located in the St James Centre in Sydney‟s CBD, will relocate to Level 10 of John Maddison Tower by September. The Dust Diseases Tribunal will move from Level 4 of John Maddison Tower on to Levels 11 and 12 by September. Mr Smith said John Maddison Tower would undergo further renovations in 2012 and the adjoining Downing Centre court complex would also be subject to improvements later this year and in 2012. "Architects will be appointed shortly to design the upcoming projects, which will include a new civil registry and new jury rooms for the Downing Centre," he said. The redevelopment of John Maddison Tower and the Downing Centre is expected to cost $26.5 million over five years
Issued: Wednesday 18 May 2011 The NSW Government will create Australia's first clearinghouse for research on helping victims of crime, Attorney General Greg Smith will tell the Meeting the Needs of Victims of Crime conference in Sydney tomorrow. "Victims of crime often face complex psychological, physical and financial problems, yet there is limited research, particularly in an Australian context, about what helps them in their recovery," Mr Smith said. "The Victims of Crime Clearinghouse website will be a one-stop shop for local and international research, containing summaries of relevant articles, reports and conference papers. The project will also identify areas where more research needs to be done." Mr Smith will open the Meeting the Needs of Victims of Crime conference, a two-day event which is being co-hosted by Victims Services, NSW Department of Attorney General and Justice and the Australian Institute of Criminology. The conference will examine a range of issues including victims' rights and the most effective ways of supporting victims of crime, particularly during the criminal justice process.
The two-day conference will feature more than 50 local and international experts, including:
Dr Jonathan Doak, Director of the Criminal Justice Research Group, Nottingham Law School, Nottingham Trent University in the United Kingdom;
Professor Jane Ursel, Professor of Sociology, University of Manitoba in Canada; and,
The Hon David Levine AO RFD QC, Chairperson of the Serious Offenders Review Council in NSW and former Supreme and District Court judge.
Mr Smith said the NSW Government was ensuring victims of crime have a strong voice in the administration of justice. "The government will amend sentencing laws to allow judges to take into account - as an aggravating circumstance - the contents of impact statements of the family of homicide victims," Mr Smith said. The Meeting the Needs of Victims of Crime conference is at the Mercure Central Hotel, George Street, Sydney. The Attorney General will open the conference at 9am tomorrow.
Issued: Sunday 15 May 2011 [PDF, 21kb]
The hidden musical talents of the NSW legal profession will be revealed at an open air Legal Expo at Martin Place in Sydney tomorrow to launch Law Week 2011. Lawyers 'of note' will deliver free performances throughout the day that will include jazz, opera, cabaret and tap dancing. "The Expo will enable the community to learn about the law, access legal services – and be entertained in the process," said Attorney-General Greg Smith SC. More than 20 legal service providers will operate stalls, offering help on how to:
write a will
access free legal information and find your nearest lawyer
organise a free mediation to resolve a neighbourhood dispute
protect yourself against cyber crime and property theft
contact support services for victims of crime
access a range of other legal services.
Law Week events will be taking place across NSW and Australia from 16-22 May. Mr Smith and Federal Attorney General Robert McClelland will take part in a five-kilometre walk for justice along the Sydney Harbour Foreshores this morning. The walk will raise money for the Public Interest Legal Clearing House (PILCH) which facilitates pro bono work to assist individuals and not for profit organisations, particularly in relation to legal issues of concern to the community. Other Law Week events include the NSW Young Lawyers' Golden Gavel public speaking competition, mock trials involving school students, open days at courthouses and seminars on drink driving, cyber bullying, family law, domestic violence, mental illness and how the law affects senior citizens. The theme of Law Week 2011 is Law and Justice in Your Community. For more information about Law Week and what is happening in your area, visit: www.lawweek.com.au.
Issued: Friday 13 May 2011 [PDF, 21kb]
Young offenders under Juvenile Justice supervision would spend the weekend repairing graffiti damage around the state in recognition of Graffiti Action Day on Sunday, Attorney General and Minister for Justice Greg Smith said today. "Juvenile Justice has partnerships with local councils around the state where young offenders on Community Service Orders are required to undertake clean-up work in council areas,'' Mr Smith said. "This weekend young offenders removed graffiti or cleaned up council areas in Newcastle, Blacktown, Fairfield and Ashfield as part of Graffiti Action Day. Sites included bus shelters, council properties, football ovals, parks and playgrounds. "Graffiti removal work is a priority for Juvenile Justice and the council. "Graffiti removal teaches young offenders to take pride in their local community, and in turn, be steered away from a life of crime." Mr Smith said Juvenile Justice worked closely with more than 20 local councils and community groups around the state to supervise young offenders on community service orders as they remove graffiti from public view. "Clean up teams remove graffiti at a range of sites, including bus shelters, council properties, community centres, shopping centres, playgrounds, businesses, parks and playgrounds." "Last year, young offenders completed over 10,000 hours of graffiti removal around the state." The NSW Government has linked with Keep Australia Beautiful NSW for Graffiti Action Day. "Studies have shown that removing graffiti quickly discourages graffiti vandals, boosts civic pride, minimises crime and the perception of crime and can even increase property values,'' Mr Smith said. "Graffiti Action Day is about local communities taking a stand against illegal graffiti."
Issued: Friday 13 May 2011 [PDF, 21kb]
The NSW Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Greg Smith SC, will hand out 'pardons' to 'inmates' who take part in the Whitelion bailout event at Yasmar Juvenile Detention Centre tomorrow. Thirty CEOs, managers and business staff from around Sydney will pay $1500 each to don prison overalls and be locked up overnight in Yasmar, a former juvenile detention facility in the inner-western suburb of Haberfield. All the Friday-night 'inmates were due to arrive at the facility at 5.30pm for processing. They include Sydney Opera House CEO Richard Evans, former rugby league international and CEO of Central Coast Bears, Greg Florimo, as well as senior managers from Nandos, Westpac and two directors from Whitelion's major partner Schweppes Australia. Mr Smith said he was delighted to be able to pardon participants. "The businesses who have already signed up with Whitelion are ensuring young offenders are given the opportunity to have a reliable job, make a decent wage, and stay on the right track in life," Mr Smith said. "Whitelion has a deep commitment to making a real difference to the lives of young people. They work closely with Juvenile Justice staff to provide our young offenders in NSW with real jobs and real wages. "Secure employment builds confidence in young offenders, and can help them realise their full potential and significantly reduce their risk of reoffending. "We now call upon NSW businesses to get on board with the Whitelion employment program." Whitelion is not-for-profit community organisation that works with young people in the juvenile justice system to provide job training, work experience, short-term placement and supported ongoing employment.
Issued: 13 May 2011 [PDF, 51kb]
School students across the state will have the opportunity to show off their artistic talents in a poster design competition. The Anti-Discrimination Board is running a competition for primary and secondary students. The 'JUST BE FAIR – Celebrate Diversity in your Community' poster competition is open to all students across New South Wales. Using a medium of their choosing such as painting, drawing, multimedia, photography or digital design, students will be required to design a poster that celebrates diversity in their community. The competition will also be supported by classroom activities helping to inform young people about the law, bullying and discrimination. "Playground bullying and discrimination can have a profound affect on children. The poster competition is a great way to encourage students to think about and embrace their differences and really say no to bullying," said Stepan Kerkyasharian, President, Anti-Discrimination Board. The competition closes 23 May 2011 with winners announced on 6 June 2011. The top three entries will be awarded book vouchers for themselves and their school. The winning posters will also be circulated to libraries around the State. The poster competition is part of Law Week, an annual event aimed at increasing awareness of the law and improving access to legal services within the community. Law Week runs from May 16 –22. The theme of Law Week 2011 is 'Law and Justice in Your Community'. Other events during Law Week include mock trial exercises for school students, an open air legal expo at Sydney's Martin Place, open days at courthouses and seminars on drink driving, family law, domestic violence, mental illness and how the law affects senior citizens. The incoming Attorney General, Greg Smith said he was looking forward to taking part in Law Week activities. "Law week promotes the rule of law and what lawyers do to serve the needs of the community," Mr Smith said. For further information about Law Week and what is happening in your area, visit: www.lawweek.com.au.
Issued: Friday 13 May 2011 [PDF, 50kb]
Attorney-General Greg Smith SC today said he would be recommending to Her Excellency, Governor Marie Bashir, the appointment of Tom Bathurst QC as the next Chief Justice of NSW. Mr Bathurst will replace the Honourable James Spigelman AC QC and become the State's 17th Chief Justice. Mr Smith said Mr Bathurst had been a Queens Counsel since 1987 and had a nationwide practice which included extensive work in the High Court, the Federal Court and state appeal courts. He has also appeared in Hong Kong and given expert evidence in New Zealand and the United Kingdom. "Mr Bathurst is an outstanding lawyer, who is renowned for his expertise in commercial law," Mr Smith said. "I am confident he will serve the State with distinction," Mr Smith said. Mr Bathurst, 63, is a former president of the Australian Bar Association and the current president of the NSW Bar Association. The Attorney-General thanked Justice Spigelman, who leaves office on May 31, for his remarkable contribution over 13 years as Chief Justice. A short biography of Mr Bathurst is attached. Name: Tom Bathurst QC Date of birth: 17 March 1948 Qualifications: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Laws, University of Sydney: 1971 Admitted as solicitor in NSW: 1972 Admitted as barrister in NSW: 1977 Appointed Queens Counsel: 1987 Offices: President Australian Bar Association: 2008-2009 President NSW Bar Association, 2010- 2011 Member Commonwealth Takeovers Panel 2008-2011 Family: Wife Robyn and two daughters. Interests: Rugby, tennis, opera and travel.
Issued: Thursday 12 May 2011 [PDF, 206kb]
What began as a low key competition to get Lake Macquarie school children interested in the law has grown into one of the most popular events on the National Law Week calendar, involving 13 schools in Australia. "The Clued-Up Kids competition puts gifted year 5 and 6 students in charge of solving a fictional crime mystery, with the children drip fed clues over a three week period," said competition creator and Belmont Court Deputy Registrar Catherine Piper. "The competition, now in its fourth year, has expanded mainly through word of mouth within school networks." This year's case involves three boys who stole their maths teacher's car and crashed it into a telegraph pole. The student sleuths are investigating which of the boys was driving the vehicle. "The competition is based on the premise that children find it easier to learn when they are having fun and the experience is interactive," said Mrs Piper. "The students are given a police statement of facts, witness statements and forensic evidence and are encouraged to ask questions about the incident." Mrs Piper said the exercise teaches students about the law and encourages teamwork and lateral thinking. Due to the popularity of Clued-Up Kids, the competition has been split in two: schools in the Lake Macquarie district are competing in a local challenge, while schools from Sydney, the Mid North Coast and Western Australia are facing off in a correspondence challenge. Teams from Lake Macquarie schools will present their findings at Belmont Courthouse on May 17. The schools in the correspondence challenge will send their entries by email or by post. "The entries will be judged by expert panels that will include a retired magistrate, a police officer and representatives of the Department of Attorney General and Justice," said Mrs Piper. "The students are encouraged to be creative in their presentation and in the past we have seen role plays, re-enactments, rap songs and even a mock current affairs program," said Mrs Piper. The participating schools will also submit an artwork based on this year's Law Week theme: Law and Justice in Your Community. Members of the winning teams will receive a book and a certificate. Competing in this year's challenge are students from Lake Macquarie, Floraville, Wallsend, Jewells, Hillsborough, Valentine, Bexley, Smithfield, Dural, Nowra, Port Macquarie, Hornsby and Albany in Western Australia. Clued-Up Kids is part of Law Week, an annual event aimed at increasing awareness of the law and improving access to legal services within the community. Other events in New South Wales during Law Week include open days at courthouses and seminars on drink driving, family law, domestic violence, mental illness and how the law affects senior citizens. The incoming Attorney General, Greg Smith said he was looking forward to taking part in Law Week activities. "Law week promotes the rule of law and what lawyers do to serve the needs of the community," Mr Smith said. For further information about Law Week and what is happening in your area, visit: www.lawweek.com.au.
Issued: Thursday 12 May 2011 [PDF, 205kb]
High school students in the Newcastle area will have a unique opportunity to find out more about their local court and law and justice issues affecting young people. Newcastle Courthouse will host open days on Thursday, May 19 and Friday, May 20 from 9.30 am – 2 pm. High school students will be able to attend a number of talks and programs on these days focusing on youth-related legal issues. These include:
presentations by NSW Police on cyber-bullying offences and the issues associated with Facebook and social networking sites;
information seminars on powers of attorney and guardianship for young people;
a film presentation by Legal Aid on the repercussions for young people involved in high-risk behaviour;
role plays on mediation and accessing mediation services;
presentations by Juvenile Justice on intervention programs for young Indigenous people; and,
information sessions for young people with a disability, their families and carers.
There will also be an opportunity for legal studies students to seek career advice at a 'legal Q&A' lunch on Friday, May 20 at 12pm. Local court registrars, police prosecutors and lawyers will be on hand to answer questions and provide advice to high school students wishing to pursue a career in the justice sector. Bookings for this session can be made by contacting Newcastle Courthouse on 4921 2200 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Also on hand over the two days will be representatives from the local court, Law Access, the Aboriginal Community Justice Group, Community Justice Centres, the Department of Fair Trading, Hunter Community Legal Centre, and the Salvation Army. The representatives will be available to provide information on the many legal support services available in Newcastle. The open days are part of Law Week, an annual event aimed at increasing awareness of the law and improving access to legal services within the community. Other Law Week events in NSW include mock trial exercises for school students, colouring competitions for primary school students and seminars on drink driving, family law, domestic violence, mental illness and how the law affects senior citizens. The incoming Attorney General, Greg Smith said he was looking forward to taking part in Law Week activities. "Law week promotes the rule of law and what lawyers do to serve the needs of the community," Mr Smith said. Law Week runs from May 16 –22. For further information about Law Week and what is happening in your area, visit: www.lawweek.com.au.
A portrait of the late Magistrate Kim Pogson was unveiled at Ballina Courthouse last night, as a tribute to the highly respected judicial officer who died on November 4 last year. The Chief Magistrate of NSW, Judge Graeme Henson attended the ceremony to pay his respects to his friend and colleague. "The portrait will preserve the legacy of Magistrate Pogson, who made a substantial contribution to the justice system, particularly on the Far North Coast where he spent the majority of his 16 years on the bench," said Judge Henson. "As a Magistrate, he will be remembered for his fairness and efficiency and his willingness to help his colleagues, particularly those who were new to the bench." "As a friend, I will remember Kim for his sense of humour, his love of life and his dedication to his family." The portrait photograph was taken of Magistrate Pogson sitting on the bench at Grafton Courthouse. "It is fitting that the portrait of Magistrate Pogson serving at the most southern point of his court circuit will be displayed at Ballina – the most northern point of his circuit. It is symbolic of the impact he made wherever he served," said Magistrate Jeff Linden. Attorney General Greg Smith said the portrait's position was unique in NSW. "I have been to many courts in NSW during my time as Crown Prosecutor and more recently as a politician and I can't recall anywhere else that has a portrait of a magistrate in a courtroom. It is a well-deserved tribute to Magistrate Pogson for his exemplary service to the bench and the community," Mr Smith said. Magistrate Pogson's widow, Sandra Pogson and his two children attended the unveiling of the portrait, along with local magistrates, court staff and a representative of the legal profession, the NSW Police and the NSW Sheriff's office. Magistrate Pogson was admitted as a solicitor in 1972. He practised primarily in the Manly Warringah area on Sydney's northern beaches, where he became a partner in a law firm. In 1985, he was appointed an arbitrator and subsequently heard more than 150 cases on a range of matters including disputes over motor vehicle accidents, contracts and building matters. The experience he gained as an arbitrator in settling matters and making determinations helped to prepare him for the next stage of his career as a Magistrate. Magistrate Pogson was appointed to the bench of the Local Court in 1994. He worked on circuits in Bathurst and Lismore until 2001 when he returned to Sydney. He was appointed to the Ballina Circuit in 2006, where he remained for the rest of his career. "Magistrate Pogson felt a great affinity for the Far North Coast where he made some enduring friendships and was able to regularly enjoy his favourite pastimes of swimming and golf," said Magistrate Linden.
Issued: Wednesday, 4 May 2011 The NSW Government will reduce the complexity of laws that regulate when company executives can be held personally liable for the criminal misconduct of a corporation. "Simplifying corporate fault laws will make it easier for companies and executives to understand and comply with their legal obligations," NSW Attorney General Greg Smith said. "Reducing the complexity of compliance is likely to result in time and cost savings for companies, which could ultimately lead to savings for consumers and better outcomes for shareholders." The changes to personal liability for corporate fault laws in NSW comply with new principles endorsed by the Council of Australia Governments (COAG). "The principles are designed to bring national consistency to this area of the law and promote effective corporate compliance and risk management," Mr Smith said. The national principles include that:
a corporation should be held liable in the first instance when it contravenes a statutory requirement;
directors should not be liable for corporate fault as a matter of course or by blanket imposition of liability across an entire Act; and,
there must be compelling public policy reasons for a director to be held personally liable for a company's wrongdoing, such as the potential for public harm.
"Retaining personal liability for corporate fault in limited circumstances will help ensure executive officers take seriously their corporate governance obligations," Mr Smith said. Mr Smith said the national principles would not protect directors and executives who deliberately engage in criminal behaviour.
With Australians among the highest users of social networking sites in the world, privacy issues are becoming a serious concern, according to NSW acting Privacy Commissioner John McAteer. Speaking at the Sydney launch of Privacy Awareness Week 2011, Mr McAteer said millions of people on social networking sites were putting their privacy at risk by failing to consider their profile security settings. "While social networking is clearly a popular way for people to communicate, it has its risks in terms of privacy," Mr McAteer said. "Users of these sites need to check their profile settings to ensure that only the people they wish to communicate with have access to their personal communications. "By taking the time to check and maintain their security settings, people can ensure they gain all of the benefits of social networking while minimising the risks." Privacy Awareness Week is an initiative of the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities (APPA), which have prepared a series of privacy tips for safe social networking (attached). As part of the event, Mr McAteer also announced the opening of APPA's international survey seeking information on social networking and privacy, and the launch of a new web video illustrating what can go wrong. "The Privacy Awareness Week 'tips for safe social networking' and the important message in the video and survey should help users to better understand the need for privacy," he said. "This is especially so in the online world where instances of personal and private information being shared and sometimes 'going viral' are daily occurrences. "Unwarranted attention, sometimes leading to 'cyber stalking' and other crimes, is an all too common and increasing by-product of lax privacy security." For more information on Privacy Awareness Week or the social media survey, visit the Office of the Privacy Commissioner NSW website: www.privacy.nsw.gov.au Social networking – tips for protecting your privacy
Think about the information you share and how it's being used, eg, what might a future employer or partner think if they read it?
Remember, the internet lets your information be collected and shared easily. The harmless information you post could be added to the mix, creating a full profile about you. Who might see it?
Sharing information with just a few people doesn't stop it reaching a wider audience; be aware who might pass things on
Before you post and tag pictures of someone else, ask for their consent – and request that they do the same to you
Set up 'friend' groups to control the access different people in your life have to your personal details
Don't accept friend requests from people you don't know
Location based check-ins can be risky. Do you really want everyone to know that no one's home?
Issued: Wednesday 27 April 2011 Sutherland Courthouse will resume sitting today following a $3.96 million renovation that Attorney General Greg Smith said would deliver better facilities to all members of the community, including victims of crime and people with a disability. Mr Smith and Member for Heathcote Lee Evans today inspected the most substantial improvements made to the courthouse in its 23-year history. "Almost every room on the ground floor has been improved and facilities have been added to make court services easier to access," said Mr Smith. Upon entering the building, court users will discover a new-look registry featuring a split-level counter to accommodate people using a wheelchair and a public internet kiosk to enable browsing of legal information online. Domestic violence victims will have access to a private room equipped with a baby change station, tea and coffee facilities, a television and an accessible toilet. A remote witness room, where sexual assault victims and other vulnerable people can testify to the court via Closed Circuit Television cameras, has been renovated to include a kitchenette and an accessible toilet. "Victims courageous enough to seek justice are entitled to court facilities that will make them feel more comfortable," said Mr Smith. Other features of the renovation include:
a new Callover Court for short administrative matters;
improved facilities for prosecutors;
renovated offices for use by Legal Aid, Corrective Services, Justice Health and other agencies;
an air conditioning upgrade.
"The Sutherland Courthouse has long been among the busiest justice facilities outside of Sydney's CBD and these comprehensive renovations will ensure it will meet the needs of the community and the justice system for many years to come," said Mr Evans.
Issued: Monday 18 April 2011 [PDF, 22kb]
People attending the Supreme, District and Local Courts can now use a new online tool to search for listings of court matters. The new online court list uses a search tool that enables lawyers, parties to a case and members of the public to type in search criteria and find court listing details, including the courtroom where the case will be heard, the time it is listed and the name of the judge or magistrate. The search tool allows people to check their listing details online at a time that suits them, 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week. The tool will reduce the need for people to contact court registries to check the details of their court appearance. The new online court list contains listings two weeks in advance, which allows people involved in court cases to keep track of when they need to go to court and enables lawyers to better plan their work. Paul Wiggins, a Parramatta-based criminal lawyer with 27 years of court experience, said the new online court list enabled him to represent his clients more effectively. "Most importantly, I have advance notice of what's going on so I can be properly prepared. When you start acting for a client after a matter has commenced, that's when it's very useful," said Mr Wiggins. "Lots of clients get their dates mixed up, because they're usually terrified of the court process. The new court list solves a lot of those problems." The new online court list is updated several times a day. Given the dynamic nature of court proceedings, people are encouraged to check the list the night before, or on the morning of, the court appearance. Last-minute list changes can occur as a result of a case being settled, or as a consequence of trials lasting for periods shorter or longer than expected. The online court list for the Supreme, District and Local Courts enables searches by name, case number, location, date, court, jurisdiction, the title of the presiding officer and the type of listing. It is accessible via the Online Registry website, a newly created online services site which serves Supreme, District and Local Court users. Users can also access the new online court list from the websites of the Supreme, District and Local Courts.
To search online court lists, visit: www.onlineregistry.lawlink.nsw.gov.au
Media contact: Angus Huntsdale (02) 8061 9360
Sunday 17 April, 2011 [PDF,39kb]
George Souris, Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Hospitality, Racing and the Arts, has ordered a review of the State’s catering laws after the operators of a venue used the licence category to serve alcohol at a function despite twice being refused a liquor licence.
The operators of the Kensington night spot in Newcastle used a caterer’s liquor licence to host hundreds of patrons on Saturday night in a nightclub setting and had plans for other such functions.
“A caterer's licence should not be able to be used in this way to effectively operate a nightclub where a licence has been previously refused,” Mr Souris said today.
“I have requested urgent advice regarding the powers available to the Casino, Liquor and Gaming Control Authority and the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) under the liquor laws to curtail these activities.
“OLGR inspectors carried out a joint operation at the Kensington with NSW Police and Newcastle City Council last night.
“I have ordered my Department to prepare a full report on last night’s operation and the conduct of the licensee and venue management.
“I have also asked OLGR to urgently review the rules governing caterer’s licences with a view to ensuring that this category of licence cannot be abused.
“The liquor laws provide effective powers to manage alcohol-related violence and I will ensure that they are properly applied in this instance.
“The O’Farrell Government is determined that the sale and supply of liquor in this State is conducted with integrity and that patron and community safety is paramount.”
Mr Souris said he had also spoken to the Member for Newcastle, Mr Tim Owen, who has also expressed his concern about the matter, saying that efforts to address the city’s alcohol-related issues should not be undermined.
“The caterer’s license is an important part of the existing licensing system and the NSW Government is determined to ensure that any review would clarify and strengthen its intended purposes in line with community expectations”, Mr Souris concluded.
The NSW Law Reform Commission has released a consultation paper seeking submissions as part of its review of the laws relating to cheating at gambling. The Consultation Paper considers whether the existing law adequately deals with cheating in relation to betting on sports and other events and gaming, and proposes a specific cheating offence in relation to sports and event betting. The deadline for submissions is 6 May 2011.
One of the most effective ways of avoiding a neighbourhood dispute is to introduce yourself to the people living next door, according to the state's free mediation service, Community Justice Centres. Community Justice Centres' Director Natasha Mann said Neighbour Day on 27 March would provide people with a great opportunity to break the ice with neighbours, particularly those who remain virtual strangers, despite living on the same street. "Neighbours who know each other often find it easier to discuss and peacefully resolve issues such as noise problems or disputes over fences, trees or the use of common facilities." Ms Mann said many people who seek help from Community Justice Centres in resolving disputes have not properly met their neighbour prior to entering the mediation room. "There has been an increase in high-density city living, but unfortunately it seems the closer we are in proximity to our neighbours, the more distant we are in terms of getting to know them," Ms Mann said. "Developing a friendly relationship with your neighbour helps to build respect and tolerance, which is important when you are living on top of one-another and hearing each other's noises." Neighbours who are finding it difficult to resolve a dispute can contact Community Justice Centres on 1800 990 777 to arrange a free mediation in their area. "Mediations are conducted by two impartial, trained mediators who help people to understand each other's point of view and to work together to reach an agreement that is acceptable to all," Ms Mann said. Community Justice Centres' mediators achieve a success rate of more than 80 per cent. The service, which is part of the NSW Department of Attorney General and Justice, has been helping to resolve conflict between neighbours, families and work colleagues for 30 years. Neighbour Day is Australia's annual celebration of community. Neighbour Day events will be held in streets and backyards across the nation on Sunday, 27 March 2011. Media Contact: Angus Huntsdale (02) 80 619 360
An updated version of the NSW Caselaw website, with a new web address www.caselaw.nsw.gov.au, is now available. NSW Caselaw has been redesigned to better meet the needs of the users of the website. The new website provides simpler navigation, a clearer structure and improved search functions making case law in NSW easier to find.
Issued: Wednesday 19 January 2011 Wilcannia Courthouse will be closed on Wednesday 19 and Thursday 20 January, due to rising river levels and a road closure. All parties involved in matters that are postponed will be contacted by the court and advised of a new sitting date.
Issued: Friday 14 January 2011. The Surrogacy Act 2010 will commence on 1 March 2011. The Act makes it an offence for NSW residents to enter into commercial surrogacy arrangements overseas. However, regulations to be made under the Act will include an exemption for people who have, before the Act commences on 1 March 2011, entered into a written contract with an overseas clinic or agency for the clinic or agency to arrange a commercial surrogacy. Anything done overseas in connection with such arrangements, whether before or after 1 March 2011, will not be subject to the change in the law. This includes future contracts with the surrogate mother arising out of the original agreement with the clinic or agency. This exemption recognises that people may have made a significant investment in a commercial surrogacy process before the Act commences and seeks to avoid an unfair disadvantage for people in this position. However, any person considering entering into in an overseas surrogacy arrangement before 1 March 2011 should also consider the effect of the existing Part 1A of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). Part 1A provides that actions done overseas could be an offence under NSW law where they are prohibited by NSW law and where the action would "have an effect" in NSW. Those affected by the Surrogacy Act 2010 may wish to seek legal advice about its impact on their individual circumstances.
Issued: Friday 14 January 2011 Flood-related road closures have prevented a number of northern NSW courthouses from operating today. Court registries at Maclean, Mungindi, Tenterfield and Wauchope are closed today, as road closures have prevented court staff from travelling to work. All parties involved in matters that are postponed will be contacted by the court and advised of a new sitting date.
Issued: Thursday 13 January 2011 Flood-related road closures have prevented a number of northern NSW courthouses from operating today. Court registries at Boggabilla, Grafton, Maclean, Mungindi, Tenterfield and Walcha are closed today, as road closures have prevented court staff from travelling to work. It is anticipated that the floods will affect some court sittings in northern NSW later this week. All parties involved in matters that are postponed will be contacted by the court and advised of a new sitting date. No NSW courts have been damaged by the floods.
Issued: Wednesday 12 January 2011 Flood-related road closures have prevented a number of northern NSW courthouses from operating today. Court registries at Grafton, Mungindi and Tenterfield are closed today, as road closures have prevented court staff from travelling to work. Maclean court sittings have been cancelled however the registry will be open for limited service. It is anticipated that the floods will affect some court sittings in northern NSW later this week. All parties involved in matters that are postponed will be contacted by the court and advised of a new sitting date. No NSW courts have been damaged by the floods.
Issued: 11 January 2011 Flood-related road closures have prevented a number of northern NSW courthouses from operating today. Court registries at Grafton, Inverell, Mungindi and Tenterfield are closed today, as road closures have prevented court staff from travelling to work. It is anticipated that the floods will affect some court sittings in northern NSW later this week. All parties involved in matters that are postponed will be contacted by the court and advised of a new sitting date. No NSW courts have been damaged by the floods