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Taking WA’s laws online

A PETITION is circulating demanding full, free access to WA legislation online.

Opposition Justice and Legal Affairs and Tourism spokeswoman Susan Walker received the 1,234-signature petition last week.

WA is the only State in Australia where there is a charge to download the full version of legislation published online by the State Law Publisher.

Australian Law Librarians’ Group WA Division president Monica Smith said while the legislation is available online at the Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII), the information on this site is not necessarily up to date.

“We consider the State Law Publisher site to be as up to date as possible where as AustLII can be months out of date,” she said.

Sections of WA legislation can be downloaded for free, however, a subscription charge is applicable to download the full text.

“It’s just something that we think is a nuisance,” Ms Smith said.

“With the subscription there’s a limit on the number of downloads.

“With other national legislation services they offer links to acts [but] when they link to ours they can’t access the whole thing.

“People do fairly often need the whole thing.”

For the big legal firms the subscription charge is less of a burden, however, for smaller operators and business people outside the legal profession it is more of an issue.

“A lot of the people that signed the petition were out in public libraries and in the general community,” Ms Smith said.

“A lot of people have a need to occasionally access the legislation.”

MLA Member for Warren-Blackwood Paul Omodei spoke on behalf of Ms Walker regarding the issue.

“Western Australians should not have to pay the subscription charge to access their legislation in full,” he said.

“The Law Society of WA has endorsed the petition by writing to the Premier and this underlines the importance of the issue to the legal community in Perth.”

Law Society of WA president Clare Thompson said the move to get the full legislation online was started by the Australian Law Librarians Group.

“They have pointed out to us that WA is the only state where you can’t get an authorised version of legislation online,” she said.

“They’re asking WA to come into line with the rest of the country.

“It’s for the community and so that people can keep up with their obligations – it’s very useful for businesses to keep up with their obligations.

“The most obvious one for business is the new industrial relations law.”

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