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
This election comes at a time when civil liberties in Australia are under siege. In NSW, our right to protest is under threat from draconian new legislation. Whistleblowers including Bernard Collaery, David McBride and Richard Boyle face prosecution for public interest disclosures and Julian Assange still languishes in Belmarsh maximum-security prison. Asylum seekers have been held for nine years then released with no rationale and less than an hour's notice, seemingly for political reasons, while others inexplicably remain locked up. Australia has been named and shamed by the UN for its track record on climate change and locking up children as young as 10 and by Amnesty International for its failure to ensure basic human rights for Indigenous people amongst other marginalised groups. Meanwhile, our ranking on Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index hit an all time low in 2021.
Against this background, we asked political parties and independent candidates about their stance on a range of civil liberties topics.
The results speak for themselves, with a comprehensive fail for the Liberals and Labor scraping a pass mark on just under half the issues (download PDF version).
NSWCCL thanks those who participated for their time and thoughtful responses. Sadly other parties did not respond to our repeated requests for input. We have scored the Liberals based on their published policy, but as a volunteer led organisation were unable to resource this research for other parties.
NSWCCL joined a coalition of environmental, social justice and human rights groups in urging the Perrottet government to halt its attempts to rush through a draconian anti-protest law, which could see peaceful community protesters jailed for up to two years.
The repressive measures in the Roads and Crimes Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 were waved through the NSW Legislative Assembly late on Wednesday night. The Bill is expected to be considered by the Legislative Council as soon as today.Read more
NSWCCL made a submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission welcoming its plan to develop a National Anti-Racism Framework.
In particular, we support:
- building a stronger legal framework to improve protections against racial discrimination
- constitutional recognition of First Nations peoples
- implementation of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
- effective anti-racism and racial equality initiatives
NSWCCL joins with other human rights groups and environmental groups in condemning the increasingly harsh and disproportionate laws and actions taken against climate and environmental protestors in recent years, and supports victims of such laws and actions. This phenomenon is not discrete to New South Wales, with a prosecution of a climate defender dismissed in Western Australia this week, and a significant public campaign against proposed changes to clamp down on protest in the United Kingdom.Read more
NSWCCL has made a submission to the Inquiry into Religious Discrimination Bill 2021 and related bills.
It is our view that the suite of bills, in their current form must be withdrawn for reconsideration and redrafting, or opposed. They do not get the balance right between the important task of protecting religious adherents and non-believers from religious discrimination; and protecting others from discrimination by religious adherents and non-believers.Read more
Update 17 August 2022: The Commonwealth Government has completed its 2021-2022 review of the Legislation Act 2003. NSWCCL continues to hold the view that the recommendations of the committee could have and should have gone much further. Read our blog post here.
It is extremely concerning that the Government has chosen - in the wake of the powerful arguments made in the Committee report on the overreach of exemptions to disallowance - to double down on the notion that the Executive should have untrammelled powers to rule by decree without parliamentary oversight.Read more
NSWCCL strongly objects to the LNP's outrageous attempt to rush the religious discrimination bills through the lower house today.
The bills have been referred to an Inquiry, which will report before the next sitting of parliament.Read more
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.
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.Read more