Law reform is the act of altering laws to better suit the importance of social values. Laws constantly need to be modified to suit the needs of the society, they cannot remain static. An essential feature of the legal system is to adapt and solve uprising problems.
The reforming of law is needed for it to remain relevant and have the support of the general public.
Some issues that the Australian legal system has to take into account are; to promote equality, resolve issues, balancing the rights of victims and defendants, and also rehabilitating offenders.
There are different agencies and mechanisms of law reform some of which include:
Agencies of law reform cannot change the law; they investigate a range of legal issues and make recommendations to the parliament. There aim to is bring about harmonisation, improve access to justice, remove obsolete and unnecessary laws, simplify and moderate the law, and also suggest new or more effective methods to approach changing social values.
The two main agencies of law reform are:
The Australian Law Reform Commission.
The NSW Law reform Commission.
Other reform agencies are:
There are many other secondary agencies of law reform which each have impacts in different ways.
The Royal commission.
Permanent advisory bodies.
There are 3 permanent advisory bodies:
The Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.
The Anti-discrimination Board.
The Youth Advisory Council.
Mechanisms of Law reform:
Mechanisms of law reform are where all the changes occur. They take in all the concert that the agencies of reform present towards them.
Some of the mechanisms are:
The United Nations.
There are conditions which need to occur in order for law reform to take place. These are:
Changing Social Values.
Changing Composition of society.
New Concepts of Justice.
Failure of Exisiting Law.
The reason why laws cannot remain static is due too the fact they become out-dated in uprising society. New values introduced in the society need law reform to occur if the can be added to constitution after a referendum has taken place. As society progresses the thinking of the general public evolves which then enforces the conditions of law reform to occur, in this case which is of course the changing social values.
In past years sodomy laws were in place in Australia from 1988 to 1994, this meant the males would be sentenced to jail time if they were caught taking part in homosexual activities. Later in 2008 under the Rudd government Same sex Relationships Act was introduced. In current day and form same-sex marriage has been legalised in Australia; it is the 26th country to accept this change.
Prime minister Malcom Turnbull was in full support as his words suggested “it was so joyous, what a great day for love, for respect, for equality.” Law reform allowed this change to take place if it were to remain static it would cause distress, anxiety, and the sense of unreliability of the people on the government. Laws need to be constantly reformed even if the decision only helps out a certain group in the society, as it creates a neighbourly atmosphere in the society. It also allows minority groups to feel self belonging, in a world where many people are trying to abolish same-sex marriage many people can consider Australia a safe zone where they feel accepted which in fact helps cultural diversity and increases the countries tourism. The ‘De Facto’ includes same-sex marriage in 28 different pieces of legislation.
The results of the same-sex marriage bills were 62% yes and 38% no according to ABC news.
In past times where law reform was needed was with the issue of the native title which doesn’t have a direct link to same-sex marriage however it was a loss of the aboriginal culture which was overturned in the 1967 referendum where the thinking of the people had changed and 90% of the Australian population voted to count Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as part of the nation.
This movement allowed the Mabo V Queensland (NO.2) (1992) HCA 23, to reach a positive conclusion and overthrow the idea of Terra Nullius.
The same-sex marriage bill was heavily focused on at the time of the 43rd parliament. Three bills were created just to amend the Marriage Act 1961.
However, previous Australian prime minister Tony Abbot was opposing same-sex marriage bills.
Abbot stated that he would not let this bill pass, as he did not see that this was a concern for the Coalition Government.
Furthermore, if the same-sex marriage bill was not passed it would breach another condition of when law reform should occur which is new concept of justice.The use of law reform agencies is well linked to this topic as the media has a huge say in this topic.The government would be slandered if they would not have rightfully carry out the act of law reform. The media can easily influence the opinions and thoughts if the public as they are believed to lay out all the facts of each event that occurs, The media is an informal way of law reform bust is still very capable at serving its purpose. The media can give society an insight of how it feels to be part of an unjust system which will most likely change the views of the public about the government.
The mechanisms which apply to same-sex marriage include parliaments and courts as the are the two main places where the bills are passed and the constitution is interpreted.
New technologies being introduced open up issue including cyber security and identity theft, robbery, fraud, and other dangers that the government might face due to Leakes of screw documents. Another part of new technological advancement is the use of cameras in public as people can now take images of others without consent, and criminal offences occurring which relate to phone usage while driving.
This is where law reform arises and law often is behind in terms of catching up with the needs of the society.
“Recently, a 27-year-old man was convicted on charges of making and possessing child pornography. He pleaded guilty to 11 offences, committed when he secretly filmed naked girls at a swimming pool with a video camera hidden under a towel. Victoria, where the offences occurred, recently changed its law to specifically create offences in relation to mobile phone misuse of this kind.
In Queensland, at present there are no specific laws dealing with this kind of conduct. The general provision in relation to obscene publications and exhibitions, s228 of the Criminal Code 1899 (Qld), might apply. It prohibits a person who knowingly ‘publicly sells, distributes or exposes for sale any obscene book or other obscene printed or written matter, any obscene computer generated image or any obscene picture, photograph, drawing or model, or any other object tending to corrupt morals’. A computer generated image means ‘electronically recorded data capable, by way of an electronic device, of being produced on a computer monitor, television screen, liquid crystal display or similar medium as an image, including an image in the form of text’ (s228(6)). A person who breaches s228 faces a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment.”
The case study shows everybody’s a right to privacy. Law reform has occurred in Victoria due to the forthcomings of this case as it shows what new technology is capable of if laws are not set to limit them.
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