why do we have laws in australia

What is law? Law is the system by which a society is regulated. It consists of rules with regard to behaviour, both at the time of action and the steps taken to rectify (correct) an unlawful action. Penalties range from compensation to punishment, aspects that will be addressed later this chapter. If there were no laws, then people could do anything they wished, a situation called
anarchy. A state of anarchy becomes problematic when society is unable to function because everyone operates according to their own desires. Imagine a world without law; you would be open to all manner of abuse. See Image 1 There are many reasons why we need law: to regulate society; to protect people; to enforce rights and to solve conflicts. Laws prevent or deter people from behaving in a manner that negatively affects the quality of life of other people, therefore the consequences of breaking the law often fit the crime. In some cases, such as action resulting in minor injury, compensation (the payment of money to rectify a situation) may suffice. Other cases result in long or short-term imprisonment where the length of the term reflects the severity of the crime to deter other potential criminals from committing the same crime. See Image 2 In addition to penalties for unlawful behaviour, laws also govern what happens after the initial action, the process of justice. We will cover the Australian legal system in further detail in a later topic. All laws are rules but not all rules are laws.


The difference between a rule and a law mainly relates to the scope of the rule. Rules usually apply to specific groups or at specific times, while the law applies to everyone, all the time. See Image 3 Your parents might enforce a household rule, such as a curfew, which may be different from another household's rule. In this example, the rule is subject to specific boundaries, that is, if you live in your parents' house, you must follow their rules and suffer the consequences if you do not. See Image 4 Different rules apply according to different needs. Rules about proper attire on a construction site would differ from rules about proper attire for a nightclub, for example, because of the specific context in each case. See Images 5 6 Laws are rules that apply to everyone living in a particular society, all the time. International law, for example, applies to everyone in the world. Countries, States, Territories and local councils may have laws specific to, and limited to, their area of jurisdiction (influence). Why do we need laws? Students use a local problem to understand the need for making laws. A problem is defined and students generate interpretations of the problem and possible solutions. Using role-play, students participate in the process of consultation, representation, and selection to write a law. Two sessions. Local newspaper story or use example given. Presenting the problem: A local resident described a developing horror in our own neighbourhood.


The resident, who declined to be identified, said, 'We all like to live in a beautiful area where there are trees, birds and small native animals. But in this beauty there are killers lurking. Some pets are killing birds and native animals, and destroying parts of the fragile vegetation. Some of the killers are domestic pets which are not kept under control; some of them are pets which have escaped and are now feral - that is, running out of control. Something needs to be done! We need to limit the number of pets people can keep, and we need to be able to have powers to control those pets and their owners. ' Ask students to define the problem, including as many different perspectives as possible. Finding a solution: Divide the class into small groups. Give students a list of people who might have a vested interest in the solution to the stated problem (eg RSPCA official, pet owner, rate payer, local council member, environmental activist, wildlife protection officer, etc). Have all students in each group choose a different individual from the list above and work out: their view about the issue, arguments or reasons to support their view, and their solution to the problem. Within the groups, have each person put forward his/her point of view and a solution to the problem. Have a recorder write down each different solution. After everyone has had a turn, have the group select three solutions to share with the class. Have them identify which of the solutions would require a law to make it work.


Ask them to give reasons for their opinions about the need for the law or the solution. Also have them consider the practicalities of introducing the law or solution. Selecting a law: As a whole class, vote for the best solution from the combined lists. Eliminate the solution with the least number of votes. Continue this process until one solution remains. Ask the students if this solution would work without a law. Given that it is likely that a law will be needed, have them discuss why a law is needed. Developing a law: Have students work in small groups to draft a law for their chosen solution, making it as clear and simple as possible. Write the statements for the law on the board and ask the group whether each statement means the same thing. Have them clarify the wording to create one law for the problem. Put the law to a test. Ask students to generate 'What if? ' situations. For example, what if a pet has been locked up, but escapes and kills some birds. Does the law punish the owner? Should it? Have the students test their law against different situations and make any modifications that are necessary. This activity helps students understand how and why laws are made. A follow-up might be an examination of what people do when they do not agree with laws. Students may also want to contact their local government to find out what issues are currently under debate or what has been done recently to respond to an issue.

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