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It's great to see Southport officially recognised by the State Government as the Gold Coast's ‘new’ CBD. What a great story. It's got everything but Marty McFly. In Robert Zemeckis’s classic 1985 sci-fi comedy Back to the Future teenager Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) is sent back in time in a DeLorean sports car time-machine to re-visit his sleepy mid-west home town in 1955. In the early 1980s when I opened a law firm with my old mate Johnny Witheriff, I wasn’t quite driving a DeLorean, but my 1963 Wolsley 6 was almost as plush, and back then in the future Southport was already the ‘big smoke’ of the Gold Coast.
Picture: Dmitry Osipenko Established in 2008, the Grattan Institute is a Melbourne-based public policy think tank which focuses on the key policy areas of Cities, Energy, Health, Schools Education, Higher Education and Productivity. With the help of funding from the Australian Federal Government, the State Government of Victoria, the University of Melbourne and BHP Billiton, it draws on research and expertise drawn from a broad range of fields to formulate high quality evidence-based public policy for Australia’s future. In its most recent report the Institute argues that for both social and economic reasons we have to find ways either to enable our workers to live closer to Australia's CBDs, or to reach them more quickly and effectively by road and public transport. The report is posted on the internet, and is worth a read.
Picture: Rhodi Lopez Source: Unsplash Years ago I was involved in a major Australian Federal Police investigation into a high-profile union administrator (amongst others) in which the AFP bugged the homes of a host of dodgy characters all the way from Cairns to Coolangatta. In the process they came up with a mountain of secret tape recordings of sometimes very private communications between all and sundry. The listening devices secreted in the homes of those under investigation included a bug in the main bedroom of a home where one suspect and his wife shared their matrimonial bed. The resultant tape recordings included audio of some goings-on that were so sensitive the tapes ultimately never saw the light of day. But they made some people stop and rethink whether the ends always justify the means, or should there be some careful circumscription of some of our more police intrusive investigation tools.
About 20 years ago I acted for a young police officer who was charged with assault occasioning grievous bodily harm after he applied a particularly vigorous choker hold in arresting a recalcitrant drink driver. Following his police training to the letter, my client locked his arm around the man's neck and pulled it tight enough to restrict the offender’s blood flow to his brain, causing temporary loss of consciousness, a very effective way of incapacitating anybody. Unfortunately, he also managed to pop one of the man's eyes out of its socket, and cause further unintended but significant damage.
Over the past several years anecdotal experience in the our family law practice has had some at Nyst Legal raising their eyebrows about the number of more mature couples lining up for the divorce, often after striking up new relationships over the Internet. Now it's official, with statistics showing that there is a growing in divorces involving couples in the over-55 age bracket. Australian Bureau of Statistics figures now show that the divorce rate is up 2% since 2011, with 49,917 Australian’s splitting in 2012, and experts are laying the cause partly at the feet of the explosion in social networking sites. Sounds like some people may be fudging their online profiles way too much.
We choose our friends. We don’t choose our family. But family is family, for better or for worse. Mostly we love them, at times they drive us to distraction. They embarrass us, and we embarrass them. But as life pitches up its cruel and crazy curveballs, family is a constant.
Picture: Lloyd Dirks Source: Unsplash When I was a kid every afternoon after school my brothers and I used to love watching The Dick Tracy Show on T.V. Detective Dickie would hurtle through the city streets in his police squad car barking into his radio wristwatch "Dick Tracy calling Go-Go Gomez, Dick Tracy calling Go-Go Gomez. Come in Go Go.” It was pretty gripping stuff. And very futuristic. A telephone attached to your wrist?! Who figured that would ever happen? Now we read that by 2018 five per cent of all smartphones will be paired with a Dick Tracy-type device. Crazy.
Picture: Zoriana Stakhniv Source: Unsplash These days the ambit of Pre-Nuptial Agreements is extensive, in some cases even regulating partners’ behaviour and interactions on Social Media Domains (Click here to view related article). However, they are much more effective than just stipulating what your partner can/cannot post about you online. Pre-Nuptial Agreements are one of the only available options available to those about to take the plunge to achieve some level of certainty in relation to financial agreements in the event their relationship eventually comes to a grinding halt. Nyst Legal’s Senior Associate, Rohan McAdam explains how amidst all the uncertainties of life you can hope to achieve at least some financial peace of mind.
The story that went viral last week about the so-called "hot mugshot guy" Jeremy Meeks raises some very interesting social issues in this new world of all-pervasive media. With television news reports following real-life crimes and court cases in a blow-by-blow, up-close-and-personal style, reality television crews following around cops and customs officers filming them in action, increasingly realistic and graphic CSI-type T.V. shows giving us a voyeur’s view into real-life crime (or is it ?), and interactive computer games like Grand Theft Auto allowing our kids a hands-on, albeit computer generated, experience in committing crime, the question has to be asked – are we seriously losing touch with reality? Society’s apparently increasing fascination with crime and criminals has many wondering whether at least some amongst us may be finding it difficult to distinguish between reality and entertainment.
I see Councillor Susie Douglas is leading the charge with the Gold Coast Community Alliance to fight the proposed cruise ship terminal. There’s certainly a lot of interest from locals on both sides of the fence.
I read with great interest the newspaper report on comments made by Court of Appeal Justice John Muir in his recent address to the North Queensland branch of the Bar Association’s biannual Court of Appeal dinner in Townsville.
Opinions differ as to how we should select our judicial officers. Inevitably, ambitions, politics and prejudice play a part in people's views on the subject, and the conversation often ranges from academic to acrimonious. The controversy surrounding the recent appointment of Brisbane barrister Mr Tim Carmody QC to the role of Chief Justice of the Queensland Supreme Court is just another case in point. Nearly 15 years ago senior legal academic Barbara Hamilton delivered a paper on the subject, in a slightly different context, that is still well worth revisiting today. I would recommend to any avid student of the current debate around judicial appointments.

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