A major coordinated campaign to decriminalise abortion in NSW was launched today by a new advocacy coalition - the NSW Pro-Choice Alliance.
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties is a foundation member of this new broad-based Alliance and will continue our half century of advocacy for abortion law reform through active participation in the Alliance campaign.
The formation of this Alliance around a renewed campaign to achieve the long overdue decriminalisation of abortion in NSW is an exciting and significant development.
There is reason to hope this alliance of over 60 organisations will be able to persuade members of the NSW Parliament across political divisions to remove the current archaic and cruel law criminalising abortion and allow the women of NSW the right to make their own decisions about their reproductive health.
After all, this is a right which is available to women in every other state and is supported by a clear majority of the community in NSW.
The NSW Pro-Choice Alliance represents expert legal, health and community voices across NSW. We are campaigning to remove abortion from the NSW Crimes Act and to ensure that abortion is regulated like any other health procedure.
We recommend the repeal of sections 82-84 of the NSW Crimes Act 1900 and the implementation of legislation similar to Queensland’s Termination of Pregnancy Act 2018 and Victoria’s Abortion Law Reform Act 2008.
We seek changes so that the law will:
- Regulate abortion as a health procedure
- Ensure consistency with contemporary clinical practice, and public health standards
- Empower women with the right to choose what happens to their own bodies, and guarantee equal access to safe, high quality healthcare, and
- Align with international human rights obligations
The Alliance will be discussing the proposed reforms with the Government, Opposition and other members of Parliament as well as seeking further community support.
NSWCCL urges CCL members and supporters to contact their local members and members of the Legislative Council and discuss the urgent need for decriminalisation of abortion in NSW.
New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties welcomes ALP support for Aboriginal legal aid and justice reinvestment
29 April 2019
The New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties (CCL) has welcomed a pledge by the Australian Labor Party to invest $107 million to address the disproportionate incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The announcement by Labor’s shadow Indigenous Affairs spokesperson Pat Dodson and shadow Attorney General Mark Dreyfus includes $44 million in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal Services, $21.5 million for family violence prevention legal services, $21.75 million for justice reinvestment programs in NSW, Western Australia, Queensland, and the Northern Territory. Labor has also committed to adopting justice targets as part of the Closing the Gap framework.Read more
5 April 2019
NSW Council for Civil Liberties (CCL) condemns political interference in the ABC, in the wake of a Senate Report finding political interference in the ABC by the government.
On 1 April, on the eve of the Federal Budget, the Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications published its report on “The allegations of political interference in the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)”. The committee found that “political interference or the prospect of political interference, and all that that entails, is experienced to varying degrees throughout the ABC.” It also found that “the Coalition Government has been complicit in the events of 2018 and beyond, by using funding as a lever to exert political influence in the ABC.”Read more
4 April 2019
NSW Council for Civil Liberties (CCL) has urged the Iranian authorities to release Nasrin Sotoudeh, a human rights lawyer.
Originally arrested in June last year, Sotoudeh has been sentenced to 38 years imprisonment and 148 lashes. The allegations against her include “assembly and collusion against national security,” “propaganda against the state,” membership in various human rights groups, “disturbing public peace and order” and “publishing falsehoods with the intent to disturb public opinion.” Amnesty International has adopted her as a prisoner of conscience.Read more
NSW Council for Civil Liberties condemns Premier Berejiklian’s call for police to search homes without warrants
The New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties (CCL) has condemned the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s plan to give police powers to search people’s homes and cars without warrants.
The new powers, as reported in the Daily Telegraph, would allow police to seek court authorisation to permit searches for prohibited drugs and drug paraphernalia in a person’s home or car during a two year period. These powers would operate on a pilot basis across four police commands, including Bankstown, Coffs-Clarence, Hunter Valley and Orana Mid-Western police districts. They are intended to target drug offenders.
NSW CCL President Pauline Wright said “The Courts act as a check on the possible abuse of the enormous powers that we give to the police. If there is a reasonable basis for a search, the courts will grant the warrant. If the police can’t show a reasonable basis for a warrant, then it shouldn’t be granted. These new powers are not needed, and offer an unacceptable prospect of being abused.”Read more
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties condemns the appalling act of terrorism that was inflicted last Friday upon people peacefully at prayer in Christchurch.
On Friday night, President of the Council, Pauline Wright, said “Our thoughts are with the people of Christchurch in all their diversity. NSW Council for Civil Liberties supports the rights of people of faith to observe their religions, no matter whether in a synagogue, temple, church or mosque. It is a dark day for our sisters and brothers across the Tasman and our hearts go out to them.”Read more
NSW Council for Civil Liberties warns of vigilante risk in making child sex offenders register public
The New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties (CCL) warns of the risks of the Federal Government making any register of child sex offenders public.
President of the CCL, Pauline Wright said, “The announcement today by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton of a proposal to make a national register of child sex offenders public is both unnecessary and dangerous. Every Australian State and Territory has already brought in a law based on a national model requiring people found guilty of serious child sex offending to be entered on a register of offenders. This register allows police across jurisdictions to share information about people on the register.”
Ms Wright said “It is one thing to allow law enforcement and parole authorities access to information on a register of child sex offenders, but allowing members of the public access would open the gate for vindictive vigilante action against people in the community who have already been punished by a court.”Read more
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.”Read more
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.
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.