Returning to presumptions and the erosion of fundamental rights: The Bail Amendment Act 2014 (NSW)

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Journal Article
Alternative Law Journal, 2015, 40 (1), pp. 42 - 45 (4)
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This article considers the amendments to the Bail Act 2013 (NSW) which alter the way bail decisions are made. The Bail Amendment Bill 2014 (NSW) was passed on 17 September 2014 and the Bail Amendment Act 2014 (NSW) was assented to on 25 September 2014.1 This article argues that these amendments represent the perpetuation of punitive bail policy which, among other things, effectively reintroduces a scheme of presumptions against bail. It is further argued that the government’s reaction to a minority of public opinion coupled with the erosion of the presumption of innocence and the general right to be at liberty, demonstrates the recurrence of similar factors which led to significant and multiple amendments to the Bail Act 1978 (NSW). The article begins by outlining the amendments to the Bail Act 1978 which expanded the list of offences for which there was a presumption against bail and the circumstances in which these amendments were made. The enactment of the Bail Act 2013 (NSW) is then considered with a focus on how the provisions of this Act simplified the law and restored fundamental principles in bail decisions. This is followed by a discussion of the factors which led to the current reforms and detailed consideration of how the amending Act reintroduces a scheme of presumptions against bail and undermines the rights of an accused person
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