Submission: Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Prohibited Hate Symbols and Other Measures) Bill 2023
We support the Government’s ambition to reduce hate speech, violence and threats against diversity in Australia. However, we hold concerns about the Bill in its present form.
The amendments to the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth), in the Bill offer in part a symbolic solution to the risk posed by neo-Nazi and other extremist groups in Australia, and in part over-reach by over-generalised application. Criminalisation of harmful ideologies can only be part of the response – what is required is an appropriately resourced whole of government response to extremism and radicalisation. Whilst the criminal law may be the bluntest instrument at the disposal of the State, it is one of the least useful.Read more
NSWCCL and Liberty Victoria have made a joint submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security responding to its review under section 29(bbaaa) of the Intelligence Services Act 2001 into the operation, effectiveness and implications of Division 105A of the Criminal Code, and any other provision of the Criminal Code Act 1995 as it relates to that Division.
Division 105A provides for post sentence orders in relation to terrorism. It enables two main forms of post-sentence orders: continuing detention orders and extended supervision orders.
We acknowledges the importance of protecting the community from acts of terrorism. Terrorism and the threat of terrorism violate the rights to life and security of innocent people. Terrorism is regarded as a crime apart from others as it threatens the very fabric of liberal democracy by utilising violence and fear to further, often fundamentally illiberal, political, religious or ideological goals.
The task currently before the PJCIS is to evaluate, in light of the recent INSLM report, the operation and merit of Div 105A, with a view to whether amendment may be necessary, and, if reform is required, what form such amendment should take. In assessing the merit and necessity of any security measure, a balance must be struck between the need to ensure security, and the need to protect the values that are lie at the heart of our democracy—values of liberty, justice, tolerance, and social cohesion.Read more
The NSW Council of Civil Liberties considers that urgent reform of the National Security Information (Criminal and Civil Proceedings) Act 2004 (Cth) is required. The federal government has flagged amendments to national security laws to ensure that the near total secrecy that hid the prosecution and imprisonment of a former Australian intelligence officer cannot happen again.
While we applaud this sentiment, we are concerned that the NSI Act is easily abused for political ends, prescribes a misguided objective, and fails to provide adequate protections that would ensure open and fair justice in the trials to which it applies. We need action.
Having regard to the significant issues with the current NSI Act, the Council submits that it is not fit for purpose and that urgent legislative overhaul is required. We are agnostic as to whether this should occur via wholesale legislative reform to the existing NSI Act, or by repealing and replacing the current regime. What is important, however, is that the reformed version of the regime ensures better protections to parties’ rights and open justice, and adequate procedural limits on the exercise of powers under the NSI Act.Read more
The New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) welcomes the opportunity to be involved in the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters’ Inquiry into the 2022 federal election and related matters.
Australia has a long legacy for being a strong democracy since colonisation, but reform is needed to ensure that this trajectory is maintained.Read more
NSWCCL has made a submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security Review of the National Security Legislation Amendment (Comprehensive Review and Other measures No. 1) Bill 2021.
The Bill would amend several acts and would increase the powers of Australian intelligence agencies.
These changes raise a number of questions about what this entails for Australians and, in particular, the work of journalists and media organisations. CCL is concerned that the proposed amendments will carry undesirable consequences.
Our concerns include:
- The breadth of circumstances in which heads of intelligence services can act without Ministerial approval, as well as their capacity to then delegate powers to junior staff members.
- Could baking for a lamington drive or turning chipolatas at a sausage sizzle held by a local community group constitute ‘support’ for a listed organisation? Such support could be relied upon by the Minister to authorise activities to enable intelligence to be produced - despite having been provided innocently by someone unaware that the group is listed.
- The proposed amendments have the potential to limit the freedom of journalists and media organisations and inhibit the provision of information to the public. They could be misused and weaponised against media organisations to hinder journalists’ abilities to freely report on legitimate news.
- Is it appropriate for staff immunities to extinguish the rights of affected Australians to obtain a legal remedy in respect of any loss or damage they may suffer if their computer or device is affected during intelligence activities?
We fear that the proposed amendments have the potential to add to an incremental erosion of the civil rights and freedoms of Australians.Read more
NSWCCL and the Sydney Institute of Criminology have made a joint submission expressing concern about the Commonwealth’s continuing detention scheme for terrorist offenders and its lack of compatibility with human rights law and fundamental principles of criminal law.
We argue that serious consideration should be given as to whether the scheme is necessary. If the scheme is to continue, we argue that the scheme should be amended in substantial ways to enhance (to the extent possible) its compatibility with human rights law.Read more
The proposed extradition of Julian Assange
The extradition hearing for Julian Assange continues in London. Assange is currently being held in Belmarsh Prison, a category A jail on the outskirts of London, where men convicted of terrorism offences are held. He has limited access to his legal counsel, relegated to sit behind a glass window in the dock. For Assange and his family, the situation is dire.
NSWCCL recently joined other organisations and individuals in reaffirming our support for Julian Assange in the context of his fight against extradition to the USA. We spoke at the Assange rally in Sydney in February and subsequently sent a public letter to the Prime Minister urging the Australian Government to take effective action to support Assange in his fight against extradition and assist his return to Australia.
Assange’s situation is desperate and dangerous. His mental and physical health have been seriously compromised. He is imprisoned in a London gaol with limited capacity to communicate with his legal team. If he is extradited to the USA, he will face charges which will expose him to a likely outcome of life imprisonment in a high security gaol.
The relentless pursuit of Julian Assange over the last decade has been politically motivated, cruel and unjustifiable. In our view he has not engaged in criminal activity. Assange and wikileaks published truthful information about shocking and wrongful activities - including war crimes - which had been kept secret.Read more
The PJCIS is reviewing the legislation that established the excessive mandatory data retention regime in 2015.
This review is happening at a timely moment as the Australian community ponders the implications of the extraordinary AFP raids on the ABC and a News Limited journalist a few weeks ago. We were not surprised at the AFP raids on the ABC and other journalists. These intimidatory raids are an inevitable consequence of Australia's large expanding suite of surveillance and secrecy laws.
My talk relates to a long-standing problem:
how to protect the community from terrorism, while at the same time respecting fundamental human rights, such as freedom of speech and the right to a fair trialRead more