Lawyers call on election candidates to commit to justice and integrity

8th Mar 2024

The upcoming state election presents a real opportunity for all sides of politics to commit to a fairer and more just Tasmania, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.

ALA Tasmania President Rowena Macdonald said the ALA has outlined eight areas of policy and law reform for consideration by major parties, key minor parties and independent candidates vying for election or re-election.

“This state election is a valuable opportunity for all parties to ensure we get the balance right in regard to justice and integrity in our state. We have written to the major and minor parties and some independent candidates highlighting our key priorities and asking for them to share their views on these issues,” said Ms Macdonald.

The priorities that the ALA are focused on include assisting people who have survived institutional sexual abuse or a forced adoption, addressing birth trauma, resolving delays in finalising coronial matters, an integrity framework, a criminal procedure act for Tasmania and further criminal justice reform.  The ALA has also elevated the urgent need for a human rights act to address many social justice issues affecting the Tasmanian community, in particular the current housing crisis.

“There are some straight-forward reforms that can be made to legislation in Tasmania that will make our state a better place to live,” said Ms Macdonald. “As a start we need to ensure integrity in our judiciary and our police, and we recommend the establishment of an independent judicial commission and an independent body for processing complaints related to the conduct of Tasmania police.

“We also know that too many people are affected by preventable delays in our justice system.  We are calling on candidates to commit to additional funding and resources for our Coroners Court to reduce backlogs and delays.

“Likewise, we are calling for the introduction of a Criminal Procedures Act which would force strict deadlines on all parties to a criminal matter and speed up the justice process. Without these rules in place, slow disclosure practices can mean a person charged with a crime could be waiting in custody for many months before they have the chance to have their case heard.

“Law reform is also urgently needed to resolve compensation claims fairly for people who have suffered sexual abuse as a child in a Tasmanian institution or were subject to the trauma of a forced adoption.

“We are calling for a charter of human rights that will elevate the responsibility on those in public office to ensure all Tasmanians are treated with dignity and respect.  The current housing crisis is a prime example of the failure of our system to recognise and address the basic human right to an adequate standard of living. 

“As a community we can do better, and we are calling on all candidates in the upcoming election to aspire to make sure that we do better.”

Tags: Tasmania State election