The Bill is "for an Act to reform and consolidate provisions for and powers relating to suppression orders and closed court orders, to make consequential amendments to various Acts and for other purposes".
The Explanatory Memo indicates that
in determining whether to make an order to prohibit or restrict the disclosure of information, a court or tribunal must have regard to a presumption in favour of disclosure. This means that in determining an application for a suppression order, including an order under Part 3 or 4 of the Bill or an order made by the Supreme Court in the exercise of its inherent jurisdiction, a court or tribunal must have regard to this presumption. Where the order being considered would prohibit or restrict the disclosure of a report of part or all of a proceeding or of any information derived from a proceeding, the presumption strengthens and promotes the principle of open justice. If the order being considered would prohibit or restrict the disclosure of other information not derived from a proceeding, the presumption strengthens and promotes the principle of free communication of information. (This distinction was made clear in News Digital Media Pty Ltd v Mokbel (2010) 30 VR 248.)Clause 5 "abrogates any existing common law power to make an order prohibiting or restricting the publication of information in connection with any proceeding and provides that there is no implied jurisdiction for a court or tribunal to prohibit or restrict the publication of information in connection with any proceeding. This provision does not affect the inherent jurisdiction of the Supreme Court".
preserves any jurisdiction or common law powers that a court or tribunal has to deal with a contempt of the court or tribunal, provides that the Bill does not affect any order or decision by a court or tribunal regarding the admission of evidence or requiring the disclosure of information to a court or tribunal or party to a proceeding in the course of or in relation to a proceeding. For example, orders and decisions relating to whether to compel disclosure of information in the course of or in relation to a proceeding, including by discovery of documents, interrogatories or subpoena, are not affected by the Bill and are not subject to the presumption in favour of disclosure in clause 4. In addition, rules of law restricting the permitted use and further disclosure of such compulsorily disclosed information (such as the rule considered in British American Tobacco Australia Services Ltd v Cowell (2003) 8 VR 571) are unaffected by the Bill, including the presumption in clause 4. An order of a court or tribunal which restricts the way a person, event or thing may be referred to in open court (such as a requirement to use a pseudonym for a person) or an order prohibiting or restricting access to the court file will not be affected by the Bill.Clause 8 preserves the operation of any provision made under any other Act that prohibits or restricts, or authorises a court or tribunal to prohibit or restrict, the publication or disclosure of information for or in connection with any proceeding. A provision under any other Act that requires or authorises a court or tribunal to close proceedings to the public will not be limited.
Statutory provisions that restrict the publication of information, such as the prohibition on the reporting of any particulars likely to lead to the identification of a person against whom a sexual offence is alleged under section 4 of the Judicial Proceedings Reports Act 1958, are not limited or otherwise affected by the Bill. The discretionary powers of a court or tribunal to order a restriction on the publication or disclosure of information, such as the power provided in section 75 of the Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Act 1997 in relation to a proceeding under that Act, are also not affected by the Bill. A statutory prohibition on proceedings being conducted in open court, such as section 73 of the Criminal Organisations Control Act 2012, is not affected by the Bill. The discretionary power for a court or tribunal to conduct proceedings in closed court, such as that in section 68 of the Family Violence Protection Act 2008, will not be affected by the Bill.Victoria has also seen adjournment of debate after the second reading of the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Amendment (Access by Donor-Conceived People to Information About Donors) Bill 2013 (Vic). The aim is "to ensure that all persons born as a result of a donor treatment procedure, regardless of when the gametes were donated, have access to identifying information about their donor and for other purposes". The amendment to the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 2008 (Vic) - the centrepiece of the Victorian ART regime - would thus override undertakings of anonymity provided to gamete donors in the past.
The Adoption Amendment Bill 2013 (Vic) meanwhile provides for amendment of the Adoption Act 1984 (Vic) to
remove the requirement for obtaining an adult adopted person's consent before giving identifying information to the adopted person's natural parent; and to provide for adult adopted persons to make contact statements about their wishes for contact with their natural parents.It will also enable a birth certificate to be issued for a child adopted in a Hague Convention country whose adoptionis recognised under section 69D of the Act.