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Commonwealth Law Reform Commission

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Page 2997-2998


SENATOR ROCHER - asked the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 24 October 1979:

(1) Does Report No. 11 of the Commonwealth Law Reform Commission. Chapter 13, suggest that uniformity in the field of unfair purlications should be achieved by the application of Commonwealth powers, including powers relating to external affairs; if so, what action, if any, is proposed by the Government on this matter.

(2) Are matters within the legislative competence of the States a legitimate concern of the Law Reform Commission; if so, do all State Governments agree that the

Commission should concern itself with these matters.

(3) Is it necessary that the Commonwealth

Government approve the Law Reform Commission's devotion of time and resources to researching laws and making

recommendations requiring the use of Commonwealth powers which have no direct application; if so, why has such approval been given. ยท

SENATOR DURACK - The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) The Law Reform Commission, in its report on

'Unfair Publication - Defamation and Privacy' recommended a

uniform law throughout Australia, and Chapter 13 describes three possible methods for achieving the viz a reference of

power by the States to the Commonwealth pursuant to section

51(xxxvii) of the Constitution, uniform legislation being

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enacted by the States and the Commonwealth, or a

Commonwealth Act using all available powers with supporting State legislation to fill any gaps in the Commonwealth Act. The Government has made no decision on the Commission's recommendations and their implementation. I have referred

the Report to the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General and the Commonwealth and the States are currently

considering it.

(2) One of the functions of the Law Reform

Commission under the Law Reform Commission Act is to consider proposals for uniformity between the laws of the Territories and laws of the States. The Defamation reference to the Commission requested it to consider proposals for

uniformity. I would mention that before the reference was given to the Commission on this subject, the then

Attorney-General sought the views of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General. The State Attorneys-General had no objection to the matter going to the Law Reform Commission.

(3) The functions and powers of the Law Reform Commission are set out in the Law Reform Commission Act 1973. The Commission can investigate a topic only when the matter is referred to it by the Attorney-General. After a

reference is 'made, the Commission operates within the parameters set by the Act. In the case of the Defamation reference, the Commission was asked to look at the question of uniformity and this necessarily involved some examination of both Commonwealth and State laws. .

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