Submission: Review of the amendments made by the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Citizenship Repudiation) Bill 2023
The Bill was introduced into Parliament on 29 November 2023, and was passed by both Houses on 6 December 2023. Now in force as the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Citizenship Repudiation) Act 2023 (Act), it has repealed and replaced provisions of Subdivision C of Division 3 of Part 2 of the Australian Citizenship Act 2007.
This Bill should have been referred to the PJCIS to allow proper scrutiny before, not after, the Bill passed. This legislation was rushed through both the House and the Senate with very limited consultation, no exposure drafts and very short notice. In our view, no clear or adequate justification has been given for this rushed process.
In 2015, in a highly politicised environment, where there was very little nuanced public debate regarding national security, the Australian government added citizenship revocation on terrorism-related grounds (citizenship stripping) into the Australian Citizenship Act. Citizenship revocation was introduced to both dissuade disaffected people from committing acts of terrorism, as well as addressing the anticipated risks that individuals who had been convicted of terrorism related offences may pose to the community upon their release.Read more
The New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties considers that the powers contained in Division 3 of Part III of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 (Cth) (Division 3) disproportionately infringe on fundamental civil liberties, create a serious threat to the rule of law in Australia, and moreover, no longer have the utility which precipitated their creation. The NSWCCL submits that Division 3 should be repealed in full.
The Division 3 powers, when introduced, were cast as a transient response to an exceptional set of events, as a response to the perceived terrorism threat following the 9/11 attacks. However, more than two decades on, and what were once powers of unprecedented and exceptional reach, are now a permanent feature of Australia’s legal landscape. Given the reduction in the threat of terrorism, coupled with the fact that Division 3 powers have rarely been utilised, the powers given to Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) under Division 3 are now well beyond the scope of what is reasonably necessary. They overstep intelligence collection and veer into investigatory powers that are properly the purvey of law enforcement agencies.Read more
NSW Council for Civil Liberties strongly opposes the Counter-Terrorism and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2023 and we consider the Bill to be a serious threat to civil liberties and the rule of law in Australia. We are deeply concerned that the Bill seeks to extend the operation of two highly problematic regimes: the secrecy provisions and the control orders. Both of which have been widely criticised for undermining fundamental rights and principles of justice.
Having regard to the serious implications the Bill has to the rule of law and to the principle of democracy, we submit that the Bill is unjustified, disproportionate, and should be rejected in its entirety. We are not persuaded by the arguments put forward by the government to justify the continuation or extension of these regimes. These arguments fail to show that the Bill is necessary, proportionate or effective in addressing the threat of terrorism.Read more
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.