Civil and human rights

This Group covers a broad range of civil liberties and human rights issues, focussing on those that don’t naturally fall within the other groups. Priority areas in the last few years have included: a Human Rights Act for NSW, along with the ongoing campaign for an Australian Charter of Rights; climate justice; LGBTIQ+ rights, women’s rights; anti-discrimination law; freedom of expression; and achieving better and more democratic governance through balanced and effective anti-corruption bodies and reform of the framework for delegated legislation.

We also track Australia's human rights violations.

A current focus area is our right to protest


Why the Religious Discrimination Bill must be opposed…for the third time

Update - a Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights Inquiry into the Bills has now been announced.

The third version

Last week the Government introduced the third version of its contentious Religious Discrimination Bill into Parliament. NSWCCL has always supported religious freedom and supports the protection of persons from discrimination on the basis of religious beliefs, but for the third time we are unable to support the Government’s Bill.

Despite some improvements (e.g. the removal of the Israel Folau provision) we remain strenuously opposed to core elements of the proposed legislation - which are in some cases worse than in the previous bills.

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Letter: Voter ID Bill

NSWCCL opposes the Government’s proposed changes to electoral legislation that would require registered voters to show ID prior to casting their vote at the polling booth on election day.

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Letter: Lack of diversity on the bench

Over 37,000 solicitors hold a practising certificate in NSW, including First Nations people and those from a multitude of other ethnic backgrounds. Lawyers from this diverse range of backgrounds are applying for positions in the Magistracy yet only a small proportion of Magistrates in NSW represent these backgrounds. We wrote to the the NSW Attorney General, who is currently undertaking a process for the recruitment of Magistrates to the Local Court of NSW, to urge him to work to break any real or perceived barriers to justice posed by discrimination and unconscious bias.
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Submission: Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021

On 18 November NSWCCL made a submission to the Inquiry into the Provisions of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021.

We encourage NSW residents to let the Inquiry know how you feel via its online questionnaire (closing date Monday 22 November).

NSWCCL strongly supports the Bill, which has very strong public support and is long overdue. Death may be inevitable, but it need not be cruel. 

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UN recognises right to healthy environment

In a landmark development for environmental activists, the UN recently recognised the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. 

With 24% of global deaths linked to environmental threats according to the WHO, it is to be hoped that this right could be used at this week's COP-26 meeting in Glasgow and beyond to further climate action

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Letter: Age of criminal responsibility

NSWCCL wrote to David Shoebridge MLC to express support for his draft Children (Criminal Proceedings) Amendment (Age of Criminal Responsibility) Bill 2021.

Raising the age of criminal responsibility to fourteen years and prohibiting the exposure of all children under the age of sixteen to the detention system will fundamentally improve the rights of children in New South Wales and Australia’s compliance with its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

We have asked some questions about the draft bill to make sure it covers all bases for keeping children out of custody, but the bill would be a great step forward for children’s rights in New South Wales if it were to pass.

You can have your say about the draft bill here.

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Policy: Delegated legislation

Adopted at the 2021 AGM

For the rest of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in a future crisis, the NSW and Commonwealth parliaments ensure that our system of crisis law-making is fit for purpose, including by:

  • embedding human rights scrutiny into all emergency responses, including through the operation of a charter of human rights;
  • subjecting all delegated legislative crisis powers to legislative tests for likely effectiveness, necessity, and proportionality;
  • eliminating the presence of poor regulation-making practices such as Henry VIII clauses or ‘skeleton legislation’ in crisis legislation;
  • mandating that changes to the law that seriously affect our core civil and human rights are enacted in primary legislation; 
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Protests should be subject to the same limits as commercial events

Update 29 October: The below limits are still in place with an additional 1000 person cap on COVID safe community sports (latest updates here).

Under the latest Public Health Order, protests are limited to 50 people - or 200 if the protest is COVID safe.

Meanwhile, ticketed events of up to 3000 people are permitted.

Our right to protest should not be limited in this way: if it's safe for 3000 people to attend commercial events, larger COVID-safe protests are surely safe too.

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Media release: 21 community organisations unite on harmful education bill

A diverse group of community organisations has come together once again to continue efforts to stop One Nation from harming our education system and the wellbeing of our children.

In our joint media release, we condemn the inquiry into the Bill, which was run by Mark Latham himself in an abuse of democratic process. 

We are fighting One Nation's Education Legislation Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill 2020 because it is:

  • discriminatory and cruel.

  • incompatible with existing laws and protections.

  • injurious to fundamental human rights, including freedom of expression.

  • harmful to teachers, students and education in NSW.

  • unnecessary and, in some areas, incoherent.

More information:

 

 

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Letter: Delayed discharge of isolating COVID patients

According to an ABC report, people who have tested positive for COVID are being forced to stay inside their homes for weeks longer than the typical 14-day isolation period because of delays in paperwork, according to a member of a NSW public health call centre in a Sydney hotspot. 

We wrote to Health Minister Brad Hazzard about this and our concerns about vaccine passports.

More information: Read our letter to the Health Minister

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