Policy preventing public servants from voicing political opinions is constitutional, High Court holds

Comcare v Banerji [2019] HCA 23

In a recent case, the High Court of Australia has confirmed there is not an unfettered right to the implied freedom of political communication and that Australian Public Service (APS) employees must at all times behave in a way that upholds the values of the APS, which extends to comments made anonymously on social media.  

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High Court of Australia upholds Queensland ban on political donations by property developers

Spence v Queensland [2019] HCA 15

The High Court (the Court) upheld the validity of Queensland anti-corruption measures which prohibit the making of political donations by property developers. The decision supports legislative efforts to improve transparency and accountability in electoral funding. However, it may also be seen as giving permission to parliaments to ban political donations from certain classes of donors even where strong evidence of corruption is lacking.

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High Court of Australia upholds laws that protect people from being accosted and harassed outside abortion clinics

Kathleen Clubb v Alyce Edwards & Anor; John Graham Preston v Elizabeth Avery & Anor [2019] HCA 11 (10 April 2019)

In this landmark decision, the High Court upheld the constitutional validity of safe access zone laws in Victoria and Tasmania, in particular, provisions that prohibit certain communications and protests about abortion within 150 metres of abortion clinics.

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High Court Recognises Significance of Cultural and Spiritual Loss in Native Title Decision

Northern Territory of Australia v Mr A Griffiths (deceased) and Lorraine Jones on behalf of the Ngaliwurru and Nungali Peoples & Anor; Commonwealth of Australia v Mr A Griffiths (deceased) and Lorraine Jones on behalf of the Ngaliwurru and Nungali Peoples & Anor; Mr A Griffiths (deceased) and Lorraine Jones on behalf of the Ngaliwurru and Nungali Peoples v Northern Territory of Australia & Anor [2019] HCA 7

The High Court in hearing its first ever native title compensation case, ultimately reduced the amount of native title awarded to the Ngaliwurru and Nungali Peoples of Timber Creek (Claimants). However, significantly, the Court rejected the appellants’ arguments against the cultural loss amount, upholding the trial judge’s original determination of $1.3 million.

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Preventative detentions during royal wedding not a breach of rights to liberty and security, European Court of Human Rights holds

Eiseman-Renyard v the United Kingdom (European Court of Human Rights, First Section, Application No 57884/17, 5 March 2019)

On 5 March 2019, the European Court of Human Rights (First Section) (the Court) declared inadmissible the applications of eight individuals who claimed that their arrests and subsequent detentions in London during Prince William and Catherine Middleton's wedding were a breach of their rights to liberty and security under art 5(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights (the Convention).

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NT Civil and Administrative Tribunal awards compensation to Aboriginal tenants for uninhabitable housing

Various Applicants from Santa Teresa v Chief Executive Officer (Housing) [2019] NTCAT 7

The Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the Tribunal) has awarded compensation to Aboriginal tenants in the remote community of Santa Teresa over the Northern Territory government's failure to provide habitable public housing. Residents of 70 households in Santa Teresa brought the action against the Northern Territory government. In this decision, the first four of these cases proceeded to hearing, and the Tribunal awarded compensation in each case.

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High Court holds that lower caps on third party electoral expenditure breach the implied freedom of political communication

Unions NSW v New South Wales [2019] HCA 1 (29 January 2019)

The High Court of Australia unanimously held that a NSW law that imposed a lower cap on the allowable electoral expenditure for third party campaigners compared with expenditure allowed for political parties and candidates was unconstitutional, as it impermissibly burdened the implied freedom of political communication.

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European Court of Human Rights holds UK's "Extremism Database" falls foul of privacy and data retention laws

Catt v The United Kingdom (Case No. 43514/15), European Court of Human Rights, 24 January 2019 

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has held that an "Extremism Database" maintained by UK police violated an activist's right to privacy under Article 8 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (the Convention).

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Supreme Court of Canada upholds constitutional right of non-resident Canadians to vote in elections

Frank v Canada (Attorney General), 2019 SCC 1 (11 January 2019)

Non-resident Canadian citizens who had been residing outside of Canada for five or more consecutive years (Non-Residents) lost the right to vote in Canadian federal elections under provisions of the Canada Elections Act, S.C. 2000, c 9 (the Act).  Two Non-Residents Gillian Frank and Jamie Duong (Appellants) challenged this under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the Charter) and ultimately succeeded as the infringements on their voting rights were held to be unconstitutional.

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