NSWCCL News

Renewed push for decriminalisation of abortion in NSW

NSWCCL is one of many organisations who have today called on the NSW Parliament to reform the current  "archaic, cruel, and degrading" abortion laws" in this state which "deny a woman the right to make decisions about her healthcare". The 33 signatory organisations made this call in a strongly worded public letter to MPs asserting the imperative for reform: 

NSW now has the most archaic abortion laws in the nation - laws created in 1900 that treat pregnant people like second class citizens when it comes to accessing abortion care. The attitudes of 1900 should not deny a woman the healthcare she needs in 2018. It’s time that NSW’s abortion laws are made fit for today’s world, and that abortion is finally recognised as a health matter – as it is in Victoria, Tasmania, the ACT, Northern Territory and now Queensland.

We call on you to support decriminalising abortion in NSW, and to vote for new health laws that promote the autonomy, dignity and well-being of people who need to end a pregnancy by providing for safe, legal and compassionate access to abortion care.

NSWCCL is an active member of a 'round table' of concerned organisations determined to achieve the long overdue removal of abortion from the criminal law and its management as a health matter.   Abortion law reform has been high on the NSWCCL agenda for over 50 years - but like others we are of the view that the time has come for for all concerned organisation and individuals to demand action from our members of Parliament. 

It is simply not acceptable to the women of NSW that our Parliament should continue to resist reform on this hugely important women's issue when the Parliaments of Victoria, Tasmania, ACT, Northern Terrority and, most recently, Queensland have been responsive to the rights of women and have decriminalized abortion.

There are some positive signs that seem to indicate some possibility that the NSW Parliament might be a little more open on this issue than previous indications. 

The passage of the legislation setting up safe access zones at reproductive healthcare clinics in NSW earlier this year was a very positive manifestation of respect of  patient dignity and privacy.  The SMH reports today that Premier Berejiklian indicated  she remained 'open-minded' on the issue and favoured a conscience vote in Parliament. 

The new leader of the Opposition Michael Daley has sadly not yet reached the conclusion of his predecessor who in October indicated Labor would, if elected, decriminalize abortion.  However Daly  is clear he has not yet determined his position and will refer the issue to the NSW Law Reform Commission. This was the path the Queensland labor Government took which led to a successful reform outcome. 

NSWCCL will give high priority to the campaign for reform of abortion laws in the context of the emending NSW election and in that context we would support the referral of the matter to the NSW Law Reform Commission.

 

Letter to NSW MPs 

Press release NSW Abortion Reform 11 Dec 201

SMH article 

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NSW Council for Civil Liberties celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Due to the historic vote on 10 December 1948, today is known as Human Rights Day.

President of the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties (CCL) Pauline Wright said, “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was a seminal declaration by countries across the world, that human rights are fundamental, intrinsic, and inalienable. Nations across the globe saw the horrors of World War II, and determined to establish a new world order, based on respect for political, civil, social, economic and cultural rights.”

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Not a good day in parliament - encryption breaking powers legislated

Two needed bills abandoned -  one flawed and reckless bill waved though – a sad day in the Australian Parliament.

On Thursday, the last chaotic day of the Parliamentary session, the Prime Minister declared he would do all in his power to thwart the majority will of parliament.

His stated motive was to stop Parliament from passing legislation requiring the transfer of refugee children in need of medical care from Nauru to Australia for treatment. His deeper motive was to avoid his Government suffering a Parliamentary defeat on substantive legislation.  

He succeeded by filibustering in the Senate and when the Bill was eventually passed by a majority of senators, by closing down the House of Representatives so the Bill could not be considered there.

This was shameful – both in process and outcome.

Also a casualty was the promised legislation to protect GLBTQI students from discrimination in private schools.  This was both deeply disappointing and a breach of the Prime Minister’s commitment to act on this issue before Christmas.

Astonishingly the Government was also prepared to sacrifice its 'encryption' legislation that it had repeatedly insisted was so urgent the PJCIS had to abort its review process so the public could be better protected from terrorist incidents over Christmas.  

The Labor Opposition then took the extraordinary decision to wave through the 'encryption' Bill without moving any of its own tabled amendments -  in full knowledge of the many problems that remained in the Bill.

Its motive was to avoid being wedged on a national security issue. The outcome is that Australia has another flawed and disproportionate counter-terrorism law. 

 

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NSWCCL supports school student strike

 

The New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties applauds school students in Sydney and across the country for walking out of schools in support of climate action.

Climate change is an important issue which will have the deepest effect on the most vulnerable people within society moving into the future.

NSWCCL Vice President, Josh Pallas, said “It is so encouraging for us to see young people mobilised around such an important issue. They are showing bravery in exercising their political rights on an issue that stands to have the greatest impact on their lives. The Prime Minister, our government, and school principals should be encouraged to see that our students are active civic citizens”.

The students have come under sustained criticism from the government for walking out of schools. Some have reported that their principals are threatening reprisals if they attend and wear their school uniforms. NSWCCL condemns any criticism of these students for exercising their democratic rights to freedom of assembly and speech.

NSWCCL President, Pauline Wright said “The Council stands in solidarity with students today. No one should stand in the way of them exercising their rights.”

NSWCCL would like any school students who face reprisals to get in contact with them.

 

Media release

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Breakthrough on national anti-corruption commission?

Today Cathy McGowan (independent MP) succeeded in having her National Integrity Commission Bill 2018 read for the first time in the Lower House.  Two hours later the House joined the Senate in calling on the Morrison Government “to establish a national anti-corruption commission.”

Even the Government appeared to give support to the broad concept.

This is the most positive stance we have had from our national politicians on this long overdue critical reform.  

However, it was short lived. 

Attorney General Christian Porter spent most of his ‘supporting’ speech trashing the model proposed by the cross-bench and warning of the dangers of such bodies.

By Question Time it was clear that the Government’s early support was nothing but a tactic to avoid being defeated on the McGowan Bill in the House. 

The momentary prospect of a serious attempt to build a broad consensus within Parliament on this critical issue has been sadly and recklessly abandoned by the Government.

The establishment of a national integrity body is an urgent and necessary reform to restore trust in our democratic processes and politicians.

The NSWCCL urges the Australian Parliament to move forward on this issue quickly - building in the enormous amount of work already been done inside and outside of Parliament on an appropriately balanced model.

We urge the Government to accept the widespread support for a strong and broadly-based anti-corruption body and give serious support to the process.

This very important reform for the public good should – and could - be achieved before the next election.   

 

To see NSWCCL's position on ICAC, see our submission to the Senate Select Committee on a National Integrity Commission in 2017. See also our statement here from 2017.

 

Contacts in relation to this statement.

Pauline Wright

President

NSWCCL

0418 292 656

 

Stephen Blanks

Treasurer

NSWCCL

0414 448 654

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NSWCCL condemns government attempt to rush Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security

The New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties (CCL) condemns pressure from Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton on the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) to rush its review into the Telecommunication and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018.

On 20 September, the Assistance and Access Bill was referred to PJCIS. Submissions to the Inquiry closed on 12 October, and public hearings into the bill are set to continue to 4 December. The purpose of the bill is to enable police and intelligence agencies to undermine the privacy protections of encryption. Media reports indicate that Dutton wrote to PJCIS, urging it to “accelerate its consideration of this vital piece of legislation to enable its passage by the parliament before it rises for the Christmas break."

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NSWCCL Warns Proposed Citizenship-Stripping Could Make Australians Stateless

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (CCL) has condemned the push by the Federal Government to advance new laws further stripping away the rights of Australians.

The text of the new bills has not been released. According to the Prime Minister Scott Morrison, they will impose conditions on the control, return and re-entry of Australians who have been in conflict zones. They will also make it easier to strip citizenship from Australians who have been convicted of terrorism offences.

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Council for Civil Liberties elects new President Pauline Wright

NSW Council for Civil Liberties is delighted to announce the election of a new
President, Pauline Wright, only the second woman to lead the organisation since its
inception in 1963. Carolyn Simpson QC, former Justice of the Supreme Court of
NSW, was the first female President, from 1975 to 1979.

Wright said “The civil liberties movement has been my life’s work. I’ve been
engaged with NSW Council for Civil Liberties for most of my adult life and I’m
deeply honoured to have been elected President. It has informed almost every aspect
of my professional career. NSWCCL is an increasingly important organisation and its
work is dear to my heart.”

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Vale Ken Horler QC

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties is deeply saddened by the death of Ken Horler QC who was a major force in this organisation from its earliest days. From the 1960s to the late 1980’s Ken held numbers of key positions in the CCL including Vice President and, from 1987-92, President. His active contribution to civil liberties took on many forms and encompassed the most pressing of civil liberties issues.

Read our reflection on his contribution to the promotion of civil liberties here. Ken Horler QC Obituary

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NSWCCL demands visa for Chelsea Manning

There are rumours that the Australian Government is moving to refuse a visa to whistle-blower Chelsea Manning who is due to visit Australia soon for a speaking tour.

NSWCCL strongly opposes this as an unwarranted restriction of free speech and of the Australian community's entitlement to hear Chelsea Manning's views directly from her.  We accept that Chelsea Manning fails the character test in s.501 of the Migration Act 1958 but dispute that this is adequate grounds to deny her visa.  There can be no reasonable  apprehension that her speaking tour would cause harm to Australian community or that she will engage in criminal activity while in Australia. 

Her situation is entirely different from that of holocost denialists or advocates of violent misogyny who have been appropriately denied visas on character grounds. ,

We are disturbed at suggestions that the US Government may be pressuring the Australian Government to refuse her visa. If this is correct, it would represent foreign interference with Australia’s domestic affairs of a serious and unacceptable nature.

NSWCCL has distributed a public statement urging the Australian Government to defend and promote free speech and grant a visa allowing Chelsea Manning to come to Australia for her planned speaking tour. 

 

CCL statement on visa for Chelsea Manning 

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