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High Court considers so-called bikie (consorting) laws

Rights Rights and Freedoms

Tajjour v New South Wales, Hawthorne v New South Wales, Forster v New South Wales.

The Australian Human Rights Commission has been granted leave by the High Court to appear as a friend of the court (amicus curiae) in these proceedings.

The Commission sought leave to intervene in the proceedings as they involve human rights issues, in particular freedom of association and freedom of expression.

The case involves a criminal law of general application, so it will impact on the rights of all people in New South Wales.

The proceedings seek to challenge the validity of New South Wales criminal laws against consorting. The challenge is on the grounds that these laws interfere with an implied freedom of association in the Constitution.

In earlier cases, the High Court has found that there is an implied freedom of political communication in the Constitution.

As a friend of the court, the Commission made submissions on the following matters:

  • Is there an implied freedom of association in the Australian Constitution?
  • Are the New South Wales consorting laws invalid on the basis that they infringe the implied freedom of political communication and/or an implied freedom of association?

The judgement of the High Court may inform the development of the jurisprudence as to whether there is an implied freedom of association for all Australians.

The proceedings were heard on 10 and 11 June 2014. Judgment in the proceedings has been reserved.