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Radical Reform in the High Court: Anti-Bikie Laws

In a move that sent Australian legislatures reeling, the High Court handed down three rather controversial decisions on Thursday, 11th November 2010, which were reported in the media. The three cases declared invalid or altered the interpretation of several key provisions in laws that have been making headlines over the recent months.

One of the decisions, South Australia v Totani, concerned the South Australian Serious and Organised Crime (Control) Act 2008 – the Act which forms the framework for the Queensland Criminal Organisation Act 2009. The central provisions, which required the Magistrates Court to issue control orders to those organisations and people the Attorney-General deemed to be part of a criminal organization, were declared invalid by individual Justices of the Court. The primary reasoning behind the judgments was that to place such an obligation upon the Judiciary struck at the fundamental aspects of the Rule of Law which guides and protects the Australian citizenship.

However, due to the structure of the Queensland Act, it is unlikely to be struck down on similar grounds. That Act gives the Supreme Court a power to review the decision of the Attorney-General, thereby still guaranteeing the Judiciary their independence from the other arms of Government.

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