Austin Asche Oration: Ed Santow

Human Rights Commissioner Ed Santow delivered the 2017 Austin Asche Oration on 19 September 2017 at Parliament House, in Darwin.

Here is his timely, topical and stimulating address, Making detention safe and humane: can we grasp a once-in-a-generation opportunity?

Letters of Comfort

Members are advised that the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory has adopted these Guidelines in relation to dealings with letters of comfort from police.


Local Court appeals subs to be filed within 28 days

Chief Justice Michael Grant has requested that the following amendment to Practice Direction No. 4 of 2016 be drawn to the attention of CLANT members:

2A. With respect to appeals under the Local Court (Criminal Procedure) Act:

(i) The appellant must file and serve on the respondent the appellant’s summary of submissions not later than 28 days after filing the notice of appeal;

(ii) The respondent must file and serve on the appellant the respondent’s summary of submissions not later than 14 days after receiving the appellant’s summary of submissions.

Members will recall that previously, only 14 days was allowed within which appellants were required to serve submission summaries.

CLANT welcomes this amendment, which was made in response to representations from the profession to the Court.

CLANT members are requested to note that in relation to the amendment, the Chief Justice has observed:

The relevant requirement in the Practice Direction has, to date, been largely honoured in the breach.  The Court will enforce the new 28 day requirement.

Austin Asche Oration: 19 Sept Parliament House Darwin

Edward Santow, Human Rights Commissioner, will deliver the 2017 Austin Asche Oration on Law and Governance.

Making detention safe and humane:

can we grasp a once-in-a generation opportunity?

Tuesday 19 September 2017 5 – 7 pm

Nitmiluk Lounge Level 4, Parliament House, Darwin

RSVP by 15 September 2017 to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Here are further details.


CLANT's grants chance!

CLANT is cashed up and the Committee is eager to consider applications for financial assistance for projects, programs, causes or cases, provided they advance at least one of the following Objects and Purposes of the Association:

(a) to promote and advance the administration of the criminal justice system and development and improvement of criminal law throughout the Northern Territory;

(b) to promote the professional interests of members;

(c) to provide facilities and programs which will assist members in the professional practice;

(d) to actively contribute in public debates in issues relating to the criminal justice system;

(e) to liaise with other bodies concerned with issues of professional interest to members;

(f) to provide representation for members in relation to matters which affect the interest of members generally;

(g) to raise the profile of criminal lawyers in the Northern Territory;

(h) to represent the views of members to bodies and persons engaged in the administration of criminal justice and a review in development of criminal law, procedure and civil liberties;

(i) to promote the professional discourse, development and social interaction amongst the profession;

(j) to promote and encourage teaching and study of criminal law in the Northern Territory;

(k) to promote and encourage the protection of human rights and compliance with international human rights principles.

Funding proposals to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.are requested by 31 August 2017.


CLANT AGM: Fri 3 Nov 2017 5 pm NAAJA

The 2017 CLANT AGM will be held at the offices of NAAAJ at 61 Smith St Darwin at 5 pm on Friday 3 November 2017.

Nominations are now open for candidates to the incoming Committee, whose members will be elected for a term of two years.

Nomination forms are available here, as are Proxy forms for members who wish to vote at the AGM but are unable to attend.

Please send completed Nomination and Proxy forms to CLANT Secretary This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If your membership has expired, you can renew it by sending $20 to the CLANT Treasurer, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  If you were an NT delegate to the 2017 CLANT Conference, you are deemed to be a current member.  If you are not sure if your membership is current, inquire with Sarah Gibbs or Nicola MacCarron.

Response to John Lawrence SC

The following statement by CLANT President Russell Goldflam is made with the unanimous support of the CLANT Committee, which has authorised its publication on the CLANT website.

The Northern Land Council’s July 2017 edition of Land Rights News features an article by former CLANT President John Lawrence SC titled Australia’s Morality Play 2017 in which he articulates his outrage at the parlous state of the Northern Territory youth justice system. The article is passionately argued and makes many good points. However, it also includes an unfair, misleading and disingenuous attack on Northern Territory lawyers, on CLANT and on myself. I reject that attack. Lawrence particularly complains about three matters: my evidence to the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory; my response to criticism of Local Court Judge Greg Borchers; and CLANT’s conduct of the 16th Bali conference in June 2017.

  • The Royal Commission evidence: Lawrence extracts a handful of words from my  detailed Statement and several hours of oral evidence on 13 December 2016 (from P-798 to P-813) and 14 December 2016 (P-816 to P-865), to give the impression that I had cravenly acquiesced to the harshly punitive approach to youth justice of the previous NT Government. It is of course a matter for the Royal Commission to assess my evidence, but readers are invited to peruse it for themselves and form their own view. Lawrence further complains that I was “dispiriting, negative and chilling”, because I gave evidence regarding the Territory’s demographic circumstances which underlines the continuing pressures on the youth justice system. It is noteworthy that precisely the same point had been made by former DPP Richard Coates in his paper “Law and Disorder in Aboriginal Communities” delivered to the 2011 Bali Conference – presided over by then CLANT President John Lawrence. In my evidence, I made twenty specific positive proposals for the improvement of the NT youth justice system. Lawrence does not refer to any of these, or make any himself. 
  • Response to conduct of Judge Borchers: Lawrence excoriates me for not being sufficiently harsh in my criticism of Judge Borchers when I was interviewed by Guardian Australia, and indignantly complains that I offered the excuse that Borcher’s “comments needed to be seen in a broader context!” Lawrence does not elaborate on the “broader context”, but fairly, Guardian Australia did:

"In a way what he said – even though I disagree with his comments strongly – they are consistent with a widely held view in the community, including views published by people at the apex of our community.” Goldflam referred to his previous testimony before the royal commission, which drew attention to “Facebook rants” by the former chief minister Adam Giles and “strident comments” by former attorney general John Elferink. “That sort of demonisation from the top individuals lends an air of legitimacy to similar views being expressed lower down the chain of command.”

Again, readers are invited to read the full report and form their own view. What Lawrence knew but does not state (as a member of the CLANT Committee at the relevant time, he had been briefed in detail), was that CLANT has been actively, assertively and constructively engaged in addressing the issue of judicial bullying (whether directed at counsel or parties) for a considerable period, as I explained in my closing remarks to delegates to the 2017 Bali conference:

"Over the last six months the CLANT Committee has given close attention to the issue of complaints about judicial conduct. Much of our concern is about judicial bullying, the subject of a powerful paper delivered by Suzan Cox at our 2013 conference. On behalf of CLANT, I recently prepared and filed a detailed complaint directed to Chief Judge John Lowndes about judicial conduct on the bench. I am pleased to tell you that [the Chief Judge] responded as one would expect: the complaint was adjudicated, with procedural fairness accorded to the judge concerned, and a substantively fair outcome. Importantly, the process was conducted discreetly, to avoid the very serious risk, had the matter been dealt with in the glare of media publicity, that confidence in the judiciary and the administration of justice would be undermined."

CLANT made a further complaint about judicial conduct to Chief Judge Lowndes on 11 July 2017, and informed Lawrence of this. The implication that CLANT had sat on its hands is unfair, misleading and incorrect.

  • The CLANT Conference: Lawrence complains that the CLANT Conference ignored the issues the subject of the Royal Commission. He is wrong. In fact, at least 11 of the 22 papers delivered at the conference addressed issues that are being considered by or are at least touched on by the Royal Commission. Among these were papers on Aboriginal disadvantage in the justice system, human rights for youth detainees, innovative NT sentencing proposals, patterns of violent offending in the NT, the conduct of NT campaigns to address injustice, and the NT Aboriginal Justice Agreement. Of equal importance, the conference was an opportunity to constructively discuss with senior members of both the judiciary and the executive, including the Attorney-General, the very issues Lawrence is agitating.

I don’t mind the robust cut and thrust of debate. But let’s not be distracted from the profoundly important matters that Lawrence, CLANT and myself agree on: the NT’s youth justice system is broken, and we need to work together to fix it.

Russell Goldflam

Alice Springs

2 August 2017














Let Your Honours do your job properly and justly

Appearing for the NT Bar Association, CLANT President Russell Goldflam called for the repeal of the Northern Territory's mandatory sentencing laws and section 16AA of the Crimes Act (Cth) in his address at the Ceremonial Sittings for the Opening of the new Supreme Court premises in Alice Springs on 5 May 2017.

Response by defence counsel to Crown opening

Chief Justice Grant has requested that this letter be circulated to CLANT members.

CLANT AGM: 28 April 2017

CLANT members are hereby notified that in accordance with Clause 38(2) of the CLANT Inc. Constitution, the 2016 Annual General Meeting will be held at 5 pm on Friday 28 April 2017 at the offices of the Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission Main conference room - NT Legal Aid, Level 5, 9-11 Cavenagh Street, Darwin.

The particulars and order of business will be:

  1. Confirmation of Minutes CLANT AGM 6 November 2015
  2. Presentation of audited statement of accounts and auditor’s report for 2015/16
  3. Committee report of the Association’s activities for 2015/16

The CLANT 2015/16 Auditor's Report, Audited Statement of Accounts and Committee Report are available for inspection by members here.  The CLANT Register of Members is available for inspection by members on request to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Sarah Gibbs


1. The forthcoming AGM is not a Biennial General Meeting at which the Committee retires and a new Committee is elected.  It is proposed to conduct the 2017 AGM in November 2017 for that purpose.

2. Clause 43(5) of the CLANT Constitution provides:

Proxy or postal voting is permitted with the ordinary member appointing in writing another ordinary member to be the proxy of the appointing member to attend a vote on behalf of the appointing member at any general meeting.

3. Refreshments will be provided, in the usual manner.

4. Building and lift access will be permitted until 5.55pm.  If you arrive after this time please call 89993041 and ask for Nicola or Russell.

It’s time for national leadership on youth justice

CLANT is proud to have joined over 100 organisations in signing this Open Letter to the Prime Minister, to coincide with the publication of the Interim Report of the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory.

Justice on the Sniff of an Oily Rag

The Sixteenth CLANT Biennial Conference is fast approaching.  Here, to whet your appetite, is a snapshot of what's in store.  Interested? To zoom in for more detail, here is the Program. And here are our Presenters, and their Presentations.  Do yourself a favour: register.

NTLJ publishes CLANT papers

CLANT is proud to mention that several of the papers given at our recent Bali conferences have been published in the Northern Territory Law Journal (NTLJ), as listed here.  We look forward to seeing selected papers from the 2017 Bali Conference appearing in the NTLJ in due course.

Copyright © 2012-2016 Criminal Lawyers Association of the Northern Territory | Website by TropicsNet