News

‘Dangerous in a democracy’

Our President Pauline Wright commented that 'the new reasoning used by Mr Hawke [to cancel Djokovic's visa] “smacked of arbitrariness” and highlighted the undue extent of the minister’s discretionary powers.' in The Age.

Full article: ‘Dangerous in a democracy’: Civil rights groups’ alarm at government’s Djokovic case The Age 16 Jan 2022

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A ‘wake up call’ to see Immigration Minister’s powers ‘in action’

"To see the sweeping powers that our minister does have is a wake up call for a lot of people within Australia ... It does set a dangerous precedent that people could be deported for what they believe."

Our President Pauline Write speaking to Sky News about the deportation of Novak Djokovic.

 

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The rights of climate and environmental protestors must be respected

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.

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NSW govt could face RAT court challenge

The Canberra Times quotes NSWCCL's secretary Michelle Falstein and ANU Associate Professor Ron Levy, discussing the potential for a legal challenge if NSW forces residents to report their positive COVID-19 rapid antigen test results.

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Submission: Inquiry into Religious Discrimination Bill 2021 and related bills

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Submission: Privacy Act review

NSWCCL made a submission to the Review of the Privacy Act 1988 advocating for urgent reform to modernise the Act and ensure it is fit for purpose in the digital economy. Privacy is a fundamental human right that is central to the maintenance of democratic societies and achieving respect for human dignity. In this regard, the NSWCCL submits that the right to privacy should be the paramount object of the Act and considers the two primary areas of concern in debates relating to privacy are:

  • (a) the intrusive observation of one’s actions (whether by surveillance, listening, data analysis or other mode); and
  • (b) the discussion and the misuse of personal information.

NSWCCL supports in-principle many of the proposals outlined in the Discussion Paper and commends the Attorney General’s Department for reflecting the legitimate privacy concerns of a broad spectrum of society. Many Australians are concerned about gaps and ambiguities in the existing privacy regime that undermine the right to privacy. This is especially important in the context of unprecedented integration of digital technology in our everyday lives.

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The ABC: South Korea uses AI and CCTV to ID and track covid patients

The ABC reports that AI including facial recognition will soon be used in South Korea to trial and track COVID positive residents. This effort will involve linking an AI facial recognition program to the CCTV surveillance system, the South Korean government state that this is an effort to ease the workload on contact tracing, but this move is worrying from a civil libertarian perspective. Our secretary Michelle Falstein, and Professor Toby Walsh - an AI expert from UNSW - spoke to ABC reporter Rhett Burnie on the issue:

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Submission: Review of the Legislation Act 2003

NSWCCL has made a submission to the Review of the Legislation Act 2003

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.

In particular, and as a key example, the Government rejected the Committee's interim recommendations 5/6/7/8 and 9 that determinations made under the Biosecurity Act 2015  that affect such fundamental liberties as the right to leave the country, should be subject to disallowance.

The Government's justification that it must exempt such powers from disallowance because of the need for "urgent and decisive action" is utterly unacceptable and flies in the face of our constitutional order. It is precisely when the stakes are high and the effects of Executive action on in individuals is so far reaching that our parliamentary representatives must exercise their oversight function. 

Read our full submission.

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Letter: Online Privacy Bill

NSWCCL recently wrote to the Attorney General to comment on the exposure draft of the Privacy Legislation Amendment (Enhancing Online Privacy and Other Measures) Bill 2021 (Online Privacy Bill).

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Perth Now: Fresh push for federal integrity body

Perth Now has reported on the National Press Club of Australia's event at which our President Pauline Wright spoke, commenting that "integrity campaigners have renewed calls for a federal anti-corruption commission, as the government stalls on introducing legislation for the body's creation".

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Letters: Parliament’s Inquiry process must be respected.

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.

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Joint Media Release: NSW Government must recognise Aboriginal cultural fishing in line with parliamentary support

Released by NSWCCL with the Nature Conservation Council and Oxfam Australia 

A coalition of concerned leaders and organisations has called on the NSW Government to take urgent action to prevent any more Aboriginal fishers being incarcerated or fined for exercising their Native Title rights.

Following revelations that Aboriginal people make up 4 per cent of people living on the South Coast, but account for 80 per cent of jail terms for fisheries offences since 2009, the NSW Legislative Council passed a resolution last week.

Raised by Labor MLC Michael Veitch, the motion supported Aboriginal cultural fishing and called for a review of all fines and prosecutions.

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The Age: Pandemic laws contain most rigorous safeguards in nation, say experts

The Age examines the Andrews government’s controversial pandemic laws, with legal experts saying they would include the most rigorous safeguards against human rights abuses in the nation.

NSWCCL's Vice President Josh Pallas said that he did not believe any other jurisdiction applied the same level of scrutiny as Victoria.

Mr Pallas said the NSW Ombudsman did not have jurisdiction when it came to issuing public health orders. Nor did the NSW Parliament use a joint committee chaired by a non-government MP to oversee public health orders.

Read the full article: Pandemic laws contain most rigorous safeguards in nation, say experts

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The Mandarin: ‘A gaping hole in Australia’s integrity’: case for getting federal anti-corruption agency right

The Mandarin has reported on the National Press Club of Australia's event at which our President Pauline Wright spoke, commenting that restoring faith in politicians and government agencies will require a Federal ICAC with powers akin to a royal commission. 

"It undermines confidence in all levels of government and its agencies — they’re fundamental to the delivery of citizens’ expectations and aspirations, for Australia to be a fair, prosperous and ethical society,” Wright said on Wednesday. She this bar is too high and undermines the likelihood of evidence unveiling during the investigation process. 

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The case for a Federal ICAC - National Press Club of Australia

Our President Pauline Wright spoke to the National Press Club of Australia in Canberra on the 1st of December 2021 arguing for a federal Independent Commission Against Corruption.

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SMH: Morrison's rant against ICAC needs a good fact-check

Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, NSWCCL committee member and ex President Nicholas Cowdery QC argues that 'Nothing “done to” Berejiklian was a disgrace – she is a witness in the investigation and has been treated appropriately.' and 'The ICAC’s powers have not been abused'.

Read the full article:  Morrison's rant against ICAC needs a good fact-check

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Letter: A more robust and accessible FOI regime for Australia

Freedom of Information laws are crucial to ensuring the transparency and accountability of policy and government decision making by giving Australians access to the information they need to participate fully in democratic processes.

However, systemic deficiencies in the federal FOI regime, including the existence of broad exceptions under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) and persistent underfunding of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC), have eroded the effectiveness of the FOI regime, shielding politicians from public scrutiny and undermining public confidence in the integrity of government and public institutions.

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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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Statement: Raise the age

Following a three year hiatus, the Meeting of Attorneys-General (MAG) has supported a proposal to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12. While the announcement was timely with Universal Children’s Day last Saturday it remains inadequate. MAG’s announcement can only be seen as an acknowledgement of the need to raise the age in order to properly respect the rights of children but does not explain the rationale for their slated proposal which will continue to see children incarcerated and punished contrary to their human rights

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