New Laws of 2018

Safe Passing of Cyclists

Starting on the 30th November 2017, new laws were introduced in WA that require drivers to leave a 1 meter gap when passing cyclists if they are driving at 60km/h or less, and a 1.5 meter gap if they are driving over 60km/h.

In a parliamentary speech on the 31st October 2017, the Honourable Mrs Roberts said “this clear guidance to road users will assist in the prevention of death and serious injury,” her statement following the 7 cyclist deaths that had occurred in WA in 2017 to the end of October.

What doe the new law mean for you?

For road users, this new law provides a clear definition of what a safe passing distance is. Drivers who fail to leave the appropriate gap will receive a $400 fine and lose 4 demerit points.

If you or a loved one is a cyclist, you can rest assured that your trip will be safer than ever before on WA roads.


Transgender Children

In early December 2017, the Family Court decided that transgender children, (people under the age of 18 with gender dysphoria) no longer require Court approval before obtaining hormone treatment if they, their doctor and their parents are agreeable to the treatment.

The 2017 case of Re:Kelvin overruled the earlier cases of Marion and Re:Jamie that made it a requirement for children to seek Court approval before undergoing hormone treatment. Until the recent overruling of these cases, Australia was the only jurisdiction in the world that had such requirements.

Part of the reasoning behind the decision was that between 2013 and 2017, Stage 2 gender affirming treatment has been allowed by the Courts 62 out of 63 times.

What does the new law mean for you?

If you or someone you know is effected by this new law, it will mean a significant reduction in mental health impacts related to seeking Court approval, as well as saving between $8,000 and $30,000 on Court proceedings.

For the general public the law will mean the Courts will be slightly less busy, thus reducing the delay for other matters waiting to be heard.


Single-use Plastic Bags

From 1 July 2018 single-use plastic bags will be banned across WA in a bid to reduce the environmental impact of the non-biodegradable plastic.

The State Government has revealed that billions of single-use plastic bags are distributed every year across Australia, and about 5 million bags are littered yearly in WA alone.

Multi-use thick plastic bags and green bags will still be allowed.

What does the new law mean for you?

If you already use re-usable bags – great! This new law will have no impact on you.

However if you are a single-use plastic bag culprit, you better prepare yourself for some changes. Retailers statewide will be banned from giving out these bags, with big companies such as Woolworths and Coles saying they will provide a range of alternatives such as thicker re-usable plastic bags and green bags.


Privacy and Data Breaches

“Many Australians would be shocked to learn that it is not already mandatory for agencies or companies to notify them when their personal data has been breached.” – Senator Wong, 13 February 2017.

In February 2017 the Australian Senate passed a Bill that will make it compulsory for companies to notify the Privacy Commissioner of data breaches, as well as any individual(s) affected.

The new law falls under the Privacy Act 1988 and will come into force on 22 February 2018. It will require companies to notify all relevant bodies ‘within a reasonable time’ of the breach.

Only breaches that are likely to cause serious harm fall under the new law, with ‘serious harm’ including physical, psychological and financial harm as well as harm to one’s reputation.

Failure to notify the Privacy Commissioner and individual(s) involved will attract fines of up to $360,000 for individuals and $1.8 million for companies.

What does the new law mean for you?

The new law gives peace of mind to all Australians that the privacy and security of our sensitive data is being taken seriously, as demonstrated by the severe penalties. Companies will therefore be increasingly inclined to adopt measures that will ensure the safety of our data.

If you think you may need to review your company’s policies and procedures in preparation for February 2018, we encourage you to contact Lynn and Brown Lawyers for legal advice.


Brief summary of some other new laws for 2018

  • Housing investors tax refunds claims have changed as of 1 January, 2018.
  • School fund changes are coming into effect this year too, with the “Gonski 2.0” legislation.
  • Social security waiting periods for students leaving high school have changed.
  • Financial advisers providing life insurance face changes to the commissions paid to them.
  • New overtime penalty rates have come into effect for those working under the Fast Food Award, the Retail Award and the Hair and Beauty Award.

If you would like any advice on any of these new laws please don’t hesitate to call us at Lynn & Brown Lawyers.


About the authors:

This article has been co-authored by Chelsea McNeill and Jacqueline Brown at Lynn & Brown Lawyers. Chelsea is in her third year of studying Law at Murdoch University. Jacqui is a Perth lawyer and director, and has over 20 years’ experience in legal practice and practices in family law, mediation and estate planning.  Jacqui is also a Nationally Accredited Mediator and a Notary Public.


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