A podcast about public interest cases which have shaped Australia
#ITC26: Peter Gordon on Rolah McCabe’s case
Rolah McCabe had terminal lung cancer when she brought proceedings against British American Tobacco, in 2001. She did not live to see the conclusion of the case, which soon turned into a fiercely litigated dispute about document destruction by the company.
Jul 31 2020
#ITC25: Laurie Levy on Levy v Victoria
From the mid-1980s, Laurie Levy waged a campaign against duck shooting. In the early to mid-1990s, the High Court began to expand on the notion of an implied freedom of political communication. In 1994, Laurie Levy was charged with unlawful entry into a duck hunting area, and his campaign and the implied freedom collided in the High Court.
Apr 13 2020
#ITC24: Sue Hackney, Jim McKenna and Rufus Black on Cobaw (part 2)
In 2007, Cobaw Community Health Services tried to book a camp on Phillip Island for a weekend forum, for a group of young people identifying as same sex attracted. The camp manager said they wouldn’t be welcome, because of the religious convictions of the Christian Brethren, which owned and ran the camp. The young people made a successful discrimination claim, and the camp’s appeal to the Court of Appeal failed. The case raised basic questions about religious exemptions to anti-discrimination law which remain centrally important, and continue to be hotly contested.
Mar 08 2020
#ITC23: Sue Hackney, Jim McKenna and Rufus Black on Cobaw (part 1)
In June 2007, a staff member at Cobaw Community Health Services, Sue Hackney, tried to book a camp on Phillip Island for a weekend forum. She was booking on behalf of a group of young people identifying as same sex attracted. The camp manager said they wouldn’t be welcome, because of the religious convictions of the Christian Brethren, which owned and ran the camp. The young people, and Cobaw, brought a complaint which ventilated one of the most significant issues in Australian public life: when should religious beliefs provide an exemption from anti-discrimination law?
Feb 22 2020
#ITC22: Denis Nelthorpe on the HFC credit licensing case
Consumer credit practices in Victoria were not scrutinised closely until the 1980s, when the Consumer Credit Legal Service challenged the renewal of one credit provider’s licence to operate. The case was part of a movement which exposed the questionable practices of credit providers, and improved the rights of consumers. The settlement of the case led to the creation of the Consumer Law Centre Victoria, and ultimately to the creation of the Consumer Action Law Centre.
Jan 18 2020
#ITC21: Stuart Webb on Nystrom
Stefan Nystrom was born in Sweden, when his mother, an Australian permanent resident, was on holiday visiting her family in Scandinavia. He returned to Australia at when he was 27 days old. He lived his life in Australia, not knowing he was not a citizen, until his visa was cancelled because of his serious criminal record, and he faced removal. His case paved the way for the increased use of the Minister for Immigration’s ‘character cancellation’ power. Stuart Webb represented him on his journey through the Australian courts.
Nov 10 2019
#ITC20: Penny Cula-Reid on challenging discrimination in football
Penny Cula-Reid’s remarkable journey has included involvement as a player in the inaugural season of AFLW football, and this year, success as a coach, winning the VFLW with Collingwood. Her passion for football is abundantly clear. In 2003, when she was 15, she showed her equal passion for justice, bringing a challenge to a rule banning girls over 12 from playing junior football.
Oct 03 2019
#ITC19: Corinna Horvath and Dyson Hore-Lacy SC on Horvath
In March 1996, police raided Corinna Horvath’s home without a warrant. She spent several days in hospital as a result of the raid. She pursued a claim against the police officers involved, and against the State of Victoria. The dispute lasted more than 20 years, through a County Court trial, an appeal, and a complaint to the UN Human Rights Committee. It lead to fundamental change in litigating claims of police misconduct.
Jul 29 2019
#ITC18: Alina Leikin on the ‘Certain Children’ cases
In late 2016, following a riot at a juvenile detention facility in Parkville, the Victorian government sought to convert a unit at the maximum security Barwon Prison into an alternative youth justice facility. The resulting court challenges tested fundamental questions as to the application of human rights law in Victoria. Alina Leikin, then at the Human Rights Law Centre, was centrally involved in the litigation.
Jun 29 2019
#ITC17: Felicity Graham on Bugmy
The question of how the criminal law ought deal with socioeconomic disadvantage, and in particular the disadvantage experienced by Aboriginal people, is one of the most challenging in sentencing law in Australia. In Bugmy, the High Court looked at these key issues, and articulated key principles about how sentences should be imposed in Australia. Felicity Graham represented William Bugmy, a man from Western NSW whose case raised these fundamental questions, and whose case has shaped Australian jurisprudence about them.
May 25 2019
#ITC16: Greg McIntyre on Mabo No.2
Greg McIntyre was involved for the whole duration of the epic Mabo litigation, through which a group of Murray Islanders sought recognition of the survival of their native title rights. In 1992, the High Court handed down judgment in Mabo No.2. The strikingly passionate language of the High Court and the significance of the recognition of native title that the judgment concerned, continue to be important in Australia’s public conversation.
Apr 10 2019
#ITC15: Greg McIntyre on Mabo No.1
For more than a decade, Greg McIntyre was one of the lawyers at the centre of an effort by a group of Murray Islanders, seeking recognition in Australian law that their native title rights had survived European settlement. In 1992, this resulted in the famous Mabo judgment, but before that, the plaintiffs had to deal with an attempt by the Queensland Parliament to extinguish any native title rights which might have survived on the islands.
Mar 10 2019
#ITC14: Jeremy Jones on the Scully and Bible Believers cases
Section 18C is a fiercely debated section of the Racial Discrimination Act. In a series of cases in the 1990s and early 2000s, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry relied on this provision to tackle the problem of antisemitic behaviour. This is a short supplementary episode about the cases of Olga Scully and the Bible Believers, following on from #ITC13, which concerned a long series of proceedings relating to Frederick Toben, a Holocaust denier.
Feb 08 2019
#ITC13: Jeremy Jones on the Toben case
In 1995, new provisions were introduced into the Racial Discrimination Act. One of those sections, 18C, still excites considerable controversy. It prohibits certain kinds of offensive, racially motivated conduct. Jeremy Jones, from the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, was centrally involved in efforts to use s18C to deal with Holocaust deniers. One particularly long-running and significant instance of this involved Frederick Toben, who was imprisoned for contempt of the Federal Court, after many years of litigation.
Jan 22 2019
#ITC12: Kimberley Castles and Rachel Ball on Castles v Secretary to the Department of Justice
In late 2009, Kimberley Castles was imprisoned. She was undergoing IVF treatment at the time. She fought for her right to continue her fertility treatment while in prison, and in doing so she ran one of the first cases testing the application of Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities.
Dec 02 2018
#ITC11: Patrick McInerney on the Catch the Fire Ministries Case
In 2002, a Christian group called ‘Catch the Fire Ministries’ conducted a seminar on Islam. Members of the Islamic Council of Victoria attended, and in response to what was presented: Islam equated with violent jihad, brought an action under Victoria’s Racial and Religious Tolerance Act. VCAT found in the Islamic Council’s favour, but Catch the Fire Ministries appealed, successfully, to the Court of Appeal. Father Patrick McInerney, a Columban priest and an expert on Islam, was a witness for the Islamic Council. He did not know what he would face, in the course of the hearing.
Oct 26 2018
ITC#10: Jim McGinty on McGinty v WA
For many years, there was gross disparity in voting power in Western Australia, between electors in huge and sparsely populated regional electorates, and those in metropolitan electorates. It had long been a source of objection. Jim McGinty was a member of the WA parliament when he brought an unsuccessful High Court challenge to the laws which created the gap in voting power, before (as Attorney-General) he finally achieved the long hoped-for legislative reform to achieve greater parity.
Sep 28 2018
ITC#9: Michael Kirby and Mark Aarons on the 1951 referendum
An extra episode, supplementing #ITC8: Following the finding of the High Court that the legislation effecting a ban on the Australian Communist Party was invalid, the Menzies government went to the Australian people to seek an amendment to the Constitution. Justice Michael Kirby and Mark Aarons discuss the referendum and its implications. Thanks also to the National Library of Australia, for the use of excerpts from its oral history collection: Laurie Aarons interviewed by Stewart Harris, 1991 Dec.17-1992 Mar. 4, ORAL TRC 2788.
Aug 22 2018
ITC#8: Michael Kirby and Mark Aarons on the Communist Party Case
The banning of the Australian Communist Party, and the finding of the High Court that the legislation effecting the banning was invalid, were landmark events in Australia’s political and legal history. Justice Michael Kirby and Mark Aarons, discuss the background to the case and its implications. Thanks also to the National Library of Australia, for the use of excerpts from its oral history collection: Laurie Aarons interviewed by Stewart Harris, 1991 Dec.17-1992 Mar. 4, ORAL TRC 2788.
Aug 08 2018
ITC#7: Tim Marsh on DPP v Walters
Politicians regularly seek to constrain the discretion of sentencing judges. Victoria’s baseline sentencing regime was a strange, unique, and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to do so. Tim Marsh talks about the decisions of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal in DPP v Walters, which grappled with this unusual legislative scheme.
Jun 19 2018