Welcome to the March 2016 issue of the NSWCCL Newsletter
In this issue:
National issues | Senate voting reform | Fundamental Freedoms Report | Counter terrorism issues
NSW Issues | Anti-protest Bill | Privacy reform | Lock-out Laws
CCL Issues | Strategy Meeting | Submissions | Action Group Profile: Asylum Seekers and Refugees | Join an Action Group
Senate voting reform
The Senate electoral reform bill passed though all stages of Parliament on 18th March after a marathon sittings – including a 28 hour non-stop Senate session. This is a very good outcome for democracy in Australia. NSWCCL supports the new electoral process and is relieved Australia does not have to go to another election under the current broken and distorted system.
Sadly the Parliament was bitterly divided on this Bill which emerged from a unanimous Joint Committee on Electoral Reform (PJCEM) report over two years ago – though the only cross-bench representative on that Committee was Nick Xenophon.
Given the huge role that then Labor Senator John Faulkner had in supporting this reform, it is particularly disappointing that the ALP felt it had to oppose the Bill with such vehemence.
NSWCCL understands the very real pressure of possible adverse electoral outcomes for individual parties in any changes to electoral processes. Nonetheless, we had hoped that Parliament could have approached this vital legislative reform with much greater consensus about underlying electoral principles.
It has been very dismal listening: much abuse, much nonsense, and very little intelligent analysis. And all happening in a last minute dash. Not Parliament at its best.
But the bottom line is a significant reform has been achieved.
NSWCCL made submissions to the Joint Committee on Electoral Matters supporting reform in 2013, 2014 and 2016.
Fundamental Freedoms Report
We read with interest the Report of the Australian Law Reform Commission on traditional rights and freedoms unjustifiably breached by Australian laws commissioned by Senator Brandis.
The report by the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor, Roger Gyles QC, on the controversial section 35P provisions of the
NSW Government forces through outrageous anti-protest Laws
On Tuesday 8th March, 2016, the Inclosed Lands, Crimes and Law Enforcement Legislation Amendment (Interference) Bill 2016 was introduced into the NSW Parliament. The aim of the bill was to "amend and clarify the laws in relation to unlawful interference with mining and other businesses", however wide concern was expressed at the harsh new criminal offences and penalties and the further expansion of police powers in relation to protests and serach and seizure powers.
CCL joined many other groups and citizens in actively opposing this Bill. Stephen Blanks publicly declared the Bill to be “completely unnecessary and disproportionate” to the challenges thrown up by protests against CSG activities and big mining.
NSWCCL made a submission and appeared at the hearing into the proposal for new laws to deal with serious invasions of privacy. We were pleased to be quoted at length in the final report of the NSW Legislative Council Committee on Law and Justice. See the full report here.
The debate on the effectiveness and impacts of these laws on Sydney’s night life has been heated. We are considering the many arguments for and against. If any supporters are interested in contributing to our policy formulation, please contact us.
News from CCL
Strategy Meeting 2016
In February we held a strategy meeting of the Committee to discuss our direction this year and beyond. Thank you to all of those who attended and who give their time to considering role that we play and how we can be even more effective.
In the next few months of 2016 we will be preparing submissions on guardianship, detention of people with psychiatric impairment and the establishment of a national integrity commission. If you have an interest in these areas or any areas covered by our Action Groups, and would like to contribute to our submissions, please contact us.
Update from the Asylum Seekers and Refugees Action Group
The action group will meet on 30 March. If you are interested in joining the group or coming to the meeting, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Make a difference: join an Action Group
NSWCCL is busier than ever with continued attacks on basic rights and liberties at federal and state level.
You can help the push back by joining one of our Action Groups.
The hard work of CCL is done in the Action Groups, and we need members and supporters to participate for our organisation to make an impact.
There will be something you can contribute no matter your skills, knowledge or time commitment.
The Action Groups include Asylum Seekers and Refugees, Freedom of Speech, Privacy and Data Retention (featured in this newsletter just above!), Criminal Justice, Police Powers, and Mental Health, Civil and Human Rights, and other organisational groups including Communications, Events and Membership.
Thank you to our members and supporters- we could not continue with our important work without you!
You can keep up to date on NSWCCL in the media on our website.
Lesley Lynch spoke at the large rally against the Anti-Protest Bill. The was passed by Parliament 16th March, 2016.
Our event on the COPS Database was held last year, but the Report has now been released- see full report here.
President of NSWCCL Stephen Blanks and Greens MP David Shoebridge discussed the 'Gagging of Public Servants' at Politics in the Pub on 17 March. See their website for more info and videos of this event.
NSWCCL in the Media
Our president Stephen Blanks has had a busy time as usual in the media discussing civil liberties issues.
(08/02/2016, Australian Financial Review Australia)
(23/02/2016, The Sydney Morning Herald)
(04/03/2016, The Guardian)
(07/03/2016, ABC News Online)
(07/03/2016, The Guardian)
(08/03/2016, The New Matilda)
(14/03/2016, The New Matilda)
(18/03/2016, Sydney Criminal Lawyers)