Media releases & public statements

NSW Council for Civil Liberties condemns threatened deportation of Aboriginal man

The New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties (CCL) has condemned the threatened deportation of Aboriginal man Brendan Thoms. The ABC reports he is the second Aboriginal man since September to appeal to the High Court when threatened with deportation.

President of the CCL, Pauline Wright said, “It is unacceptable that the immigration authorities have the power to cancel a visa and deport someone, or condemn them to a life of detention, without proper accountability. Such decisions can ruin a person’s life, yet there is no merits review when the Minister considers whether to intervene in the decision-making. The threatened deportation of an Aboriginal man who happened to be born overseas but came to Australia as a child demonstrates anew the dangers of such oppressive visa cancellation powers.”

According to the Department of Home Affairs, visa cancellations have increased by over 1400 percent between 2013-14 and 2016-17 financial years. This is at least partially due to legislative amendments to the Migration Act that have given greater powers to the Department and Minister, who can cancel or refuse visas for minor offences.  Wright said, "The Minister can even consider whether to refuse or cancel a visa, by ‘having regard to… the person’s past and present general conduct.’ No government official should have such broad discretion to ruin someone’s life.”

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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 


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


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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NSW CCL supports move to decriminalise abortion in Queensland

On 16 July 2018 the Queensland Labor Government released the Queensland Law Reform Commission (QLRC) Review of Termination of Pregnancy Laws report. The report made a series of recommendations, including the draft of a bill that would decriminalise abortion in Queensland.

It is currently unlawful to terminate pregnancy in Queensland, due to sections 224 to 226 of the Criminal Code. As noted in the QLRC report, a termination may be “lawful” if it is “necessary to preserve the woman from a serious danger to her life or her physical or mental health (not being merely the normal dangers of pregnancy and childbirth) which the continuance of the pregnancy would entail, and in the circumstances not out of proportion to the danger to be averted.” There are currently between 10 000 and 14 000 abortions in Queensland every year. They are mostly performed in the first trimester, with later terminations “comparatively rare”.

Under the current provisions, a person who causes an abortion can be imprisoned for 14 years. A woman who takes something to cause herself a miscarriage can be imprisoned for seven years. Supplying drugs or other instruments used for the purpose of abortion can result in imprisonment for three years.

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Council for Civil Liberties condemns regulations allowing for bans on public gatherings

Statement amended on 26 June: Following media interest, the NSW Council for Civil Liberties (CCL) has responded to criticisms from the NSW Government regarding the breadth of these regulations. CCL appreciates the government’s engagement with our concerns. This statement has been amended to incorporate the Government’s response, which is explained more fully in the final section of this statement. The regulations have also been provided at greater length, to explain other prescribed activities, and to set out penalties stipulated under the regulations.  CCL remains opposed to the regulations in question.

On 1 July, new regulations will come into effect, granting the NSW State Government incredibly wide powers to disperse or ban protests, rallies, and virtually any public gathering across approximately half of all land across the state. CCL strongly opposes these regulations. As is explained in the final section, the NSW Government has responded to our criticisms by arguing that the new regulations are broadly the same as previous regulations. This argument is factually correct, although fines that may be imposed under the new regulations have been increased. However, this does not answer criticism of the merit of the regulations.

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CCL deeply concerned about anti-protest laws, but welcomes aquittal of 'Wollar Three'

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (CCL) welcomes the dismissal of anti-protesting law
charges against Bev Smiles, Bruce Hughes and Stephanie Luce in Mudgee Local Court on
June 5.

The trio, known as the “Wollar Three”, attended a protest against the expansion of the
Wilpinjong mine in 2017. They blocked a road, and held up a banner. They faced two charges
under the Inclosed Lands Protection Act 2016, of which they were acquitted. They were also
charged with obstructing pedestrians and drivers. Magistrate David Day found them guilty of
obstructing the road, but did not record any convictions against them.

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Review of police counter-terrorism powers missed opportunity to restore civil liberties

On Thursday, June 7, New South Wales Attorney-General Mark Speakman announced that the government would adopt the recommendations of a review of the Terrorism (Police Powers) Act 2002 by the Department of Justice. The report made 13 recommendations in relation to the legislation.

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (CCL) notes with concern that the recommendations make little attempt to substantively change the laws, or to otherwise restore civil liberties. There is little attempt to reign in police powers in any meaningful way, which is why CCL opposed these laws in the first place.

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