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2022 End of year drinks!

Thanks very much to the Art House Hotel for hosting our end of year drinks this week. It was lovely to catch up and reflect on the year and celebrate the beginning of our 60th year anniversary in 2023.

We look forward to a productive, active and fun-filled series of events next year, the highlight of which will be our annual dinner in October 2023! More details to follow......

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SMH: ‘Like martial law’: When police got the green light to take a truncheon to COVID-19

In the Supreme Court on Tuesday, the NSW government conceded two COVID-19 fines were invalid and withdrew 33,000 more of them. The NSW Council for Civil Liberties remains deeply concerned about the special powers given to the police allowing the issuing of fines which clearly added to the financial burden already placed upon individuals and businesses facing hardship due to the pandemic. Jordan Baker reported today in the Sydney Morning Herald that an independent report found, governments’ COVID-19 response “sometimes looked ... more like martial law than humanitarian relief”.

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Australia: Alarming conditions in-country and in offshore detention centres

During its 75th session, on 15 and 16 November 2022, the Committee Against Torture considered Australia's sixth periodic report. The country rapporteurs were Ms. Ilvija Puce and Mr. Erdogan Iscan.

The country delegation was led by Simon Newnham, Deputy Secretary, Integrity and International Group, Australian Attorney-General’s Department. The review took place less than a month after the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) had decided to suspend its visit to Australia as it faced obstructions in carrying out its mandate under the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT), to which Australia is a party. Several places of detention could not be visited by the SPT, and relevant information and documentation were not provided by the authorities upon request.

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Nationals make themselves irrelevant by not supporting a First Nations Voice to Parliament

The National Party propose on their website that "We believe in freedom of speech, movement and philosophy; freedom of religious activity, association and assembly; and equality and justice for all before the law." Therefore it is understandable that commentators and advocates for a First Nations Voice to Parliament responded with confusion at the Nationals decision yesterday not to support and First Nations Voice to Parliament. Noel Pearson in a powerful interview on Radio National this morninag said the party are "writing themselves off for the future."

Young people overwhelmingly support a First Nations voice to Parliament. Young Australians voters, including those in regional Australia are voting more progressively on issues on social issues and climate change with younger people recently surveyed by JWS Research showing the strongest support for Voice is among 18 to 34-year-olds. The National Party risks losing the youth vote in the regions with this shortsighted and premature decision.

Co-chair of the Uluru Youth Dialogue Allira Davis, said that young Australian voters will be the driving force behind a successful referendum due to their willingness to accept change and strong desire for society to progress.

“Everyone needs to watch out for the young people,” she said. “Look at the climate action groups - they're led by young people. Marriage equality was led by young people. Young people are so progressive and want change and want to see change within their communities, whether it's First Nations or minorities.

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Josh Pallas: ‘Strike Force Guard’: suppression of climate protest threatens us all

Peaceful public assembly is not unlawful in NSW. Capsicum spray is intended to be used as a ‘last resort’ for police. Instead, it’s increasingly used as ‘crowd control’ at peaceful protest events, in a clear breach of police’ guidelines. 

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City Hub: Danny Lim released from hospital, “violent” police response condemned

Iconic Sydney protester, Danny Lim, has been released from hospital after suffering a fractured skull due to an attempted arrest in the QVB which left the 78-year-old thrown to the ground in an attempt to remove him from the shopping complex. 

Protestors gathered outside the Surry Hills Police Area Command yesterday to voice outrage over Lim’s arrest. Signs at the protest read “Stop NSW police brutality”, and “CVN’T hit Danny Lim”.

Now questions over the unnecessary force employed by NSW police against the peaceful protestor have arisen. Both the Greens and the NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) have expressed their concerns over the violent response to protestors.

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Submission: Review of the Modern Slavery Act 2018

The Australian Government has asked Professor John McMillan, AO, supported by the Attorney-General’s Department to undertake a statutory review of the Modern Slavery Act 2018 operation and compliance over the first three years since commencement. The review commenced on 31 March 2022 and is to be completed within one year, followed by a report to be tabled in Parliament.

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NSWCCL applauds unanimous resolution from City of Sydney to protect the right to protest

At Monday's meeting City of Sydney councillors came together with unanimous support for a Motion protecting the right to peaceful non-violent protest in NSW.

NSW Council for Civil Liberties applauds this demonstration of support for the fundatmental rights of the community to come together, peacefully, to express their view

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City Hub: Sydney activist and icon Danny Lim in hospital after police attempted arrest

This week, 78-year-old Danny Lim was in the QVB on George Street when police attempted to have him removed from the building. During the arrest Lim was thrown to the ground and sustained an injury to his cheek.

Josh Pallas, President NSWCCL said: Over the past year we have seen police come down hard on protestors before, during and after protests. Yesterday's police violence directed at Danny Lim takes this to a new level. He was not participating in a protest, but is a well known protestor going about his life and was still subjected to violent policing. This ugly encounter demonstrates the depths of the rotten culture in NSW Police related to protest and the expression of dissent. This rotten culture must be called out and brought to an end. While the investigation into the incident is welcome, it must occur at arms length from Police, preferably through the independent LECC.

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Dreyfus: Whistleblower and integrity reforms part of ‘crucial steps’ to rebuild trust in government

The federal attorney-general has announced all commonwealth entities will be subject to the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 to tackle corrupt conduct in government.

Mark Dreyfus said this reform would complement the new National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), to match anti-corruption measures with existing safeguards against fraud in the APS, The Mandarin's Melissa Coade reports. 

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Jury fails to reach verdict in trial of prison officer who shot shackled Wiradjuri man dead

The jury in the murder trial of a New South Wales prison officer who shot a shackled Wiradjuri man dead has been discharged after failing to reach a verdict. Dwayne Johnstone, 43, had his hands and ankles in cuffs when ‘Officer A’ shot him dead outside Lismore Base Hospital on 15 March 2019.

At the beginning of the trial Crown prosecutor Ken McKay SC said Mr Johnstone was “posing no risk to any person at the time he was shot”. By the count kept by NSWCCL, there have been at least 502 indigenous deaths in custody since the end of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in 1991.

For more information, read the full article.

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Labor to boost whistleblower protections

The attornery general, Mark Dreyfus, has revealed that Labor plans to boost whistleblower protections by introducing a new bill in the final sitting fortnight of the 2022 parliament. The Albanese government will introduce amendments to deliver “immediate improvements” to whistleblowing laws, The Guardian's Paul Karp writes. 

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Policy: LGBTQI+ rights

Adopted at the 2022 AGM

Background

Since 1963, NSWCCL has been at the forefront of arguments to advance the human rights and civil liberties of all. While NSWCCL has strongly supported LGBTQI+ rights in its advocacy, it does not have an updated formal policy. The purpose of this policy is to set out the framework for our advocacy in that regard.

This policy adopts the acronym LGBTQI+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and others) for ease, but recognises that there are a myriad of other sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions to which this policy also relates.

Our first recorded policy on the issue was passed on 6 May 1970, which stated ‘That the policy of the Council for Civil Liberties be that sex relations between adults in private shall not be a criminal offence.’ In October 1973, NSWCCL reasserted that policy and further added, amongst other things, ‘there should be no discrimination against homosexuals on the basis of their homosexuality and that State and Commonwealth governments should act to ensure full and substantive equality to homosexuals’. NSWCCL also made submissions in support of marriage equality in both 2009 and 2017.

On 26 October 1994, the AGM passed a resolution which stated ‘That [ NSWCCL] calls on the Department of School Education to develop and implement a component of the curriculum on the social and cultural constructions of gender within a framework of Gender Studies’.

NSWCCL has also consistently made submissions which opposed attempts to further protect religious rights at the expense of LGBTQI+ rights. This included submissions to federal inquiries in 2019, 2020 and 2021 and state inquiries in 2020 and 2021.

Healthcare and education continue to be pressure points for the LGBTQI+ community where discrimination is particularly felt. As Sydney hosts World Pride in 2023, it is past time NSWCCL reaffirm support for the LGBTQI+ community.

Policy

That NSWCCL supports the LGBTQI+ community in their demands for equal rights and substantive equality. NSWCCL strongly opposes the privileging of other rights, including religious rights, so as to erode or deny the rights of LGBTQI+ persons. NSWCCL reaffirms our commitment to advocate for a human rights act or charter at both a NSW and Commonwealth level which conclusively resolves conflicts of rights.

In particular NSWCCL:

  • Supports a ban on LGBTQI+ conversion practices. These are practices which attempt to ‘suppress, cure or change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. For example ‘gay cure therapy’ or gay exorcism.[1]
  • Strongly opposes recent attempts by religious groups and some governments to unwarrantedly privilege religious rights at the expense of LGBTQI+ rights.
  • Opposes any discrimination against LGBTQI+ people in healthcare and educational settings.
  • Supports a ban on the performance of unnecessary medical procedures on people born with innate variations of sex characteristics without their consent.
  • Supports calls for an LGBTQI+ Commissioner being appointed to the Australian Human Rights Commission.
  • Recognises conflicts of human rights must be dealt with on a case-by-case basis using the framework of international human rights law as a best practice guide.

 

[1] The Cooper Report 2021 - Ozanne Foundation

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Media Statement: NSW Council for Civil Liberties supports the crossbench push for public hearings for the National Anti-Corruption Commission

The national anti-corruption commission inquiry handed down its findings this week. While supporting all of the report’s recommendations the NSW Council for Civil Liberties is deeply concerned that the proposed model will greatly constrain the Commissioner’s power to hold public hearings even when the commissioner is satisfied that a public hearing would be in the public interest.

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Green Left: Josh Pallas: 'fight for the right to protest as if our lives depended on it!'

NSW Council for Civil Liberties President, Josh Pallas recently made a presentation on anti-protest laws and the right to protest at Ecosocialism 2022 on a panel titled "Winning our right to protest and building the environment movement" in Sydney (October 9).

It's great! Watch the full video

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John Waters SC speaks out about the appalling culture and regulatory practices of NSW Fisheries

John Waters SC say that there is an urgent need to look at the behaviour and regulatory practices of NSW Fisheries, particularly in relation to the departments attitude towards Aboriginal Fishers. Mr Waters is extremely concerned about the level of damage inflicted by compliance actions on Aboriginal people whose lives and culture are expressed and defined by their cultural fishing practices. We think these actions are racist and unfair.

For more information, listen to ABC radio interview Mr Waters.

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The Guardian: Labor faces resistance in push to expand police access to GPS data in missing person cases

NSWCCL spokesperson Stephen Blanks, spoke to The Guardian about the introduction of the telecommunications legislation amendment (information disclosure, national interest and other measures) bill to parliament today. 

The changes will allow emergency services more opportunity to apply for a warrant to request location triangulation data from phone companies to find missing people at risk. The current legislation allows disclosure of such information, under section 287 of the act, if emergency services believe “on reasonable grounds that the disclosure or use is reasonably necessary to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to the life or health of a person”.

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Report for Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill Released

The report of Portfolio Committee No. 7 – Planning and Environment, entitled 'Aboriginal Cultural Heritage (Culture is Identity) Bill 2022' has now been released to the NSW parliament website. The report and its recommendations are now with the government for consideration. The government is required to respond to the recommendations within three months.

For more information regarding the bill, read our overview and submission

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No recommendations for change: Report released into discrete parts of the Bail Act (2013)

The findings of the NSW Law Reform Commission into the inquiry of discrete parts of the Bail Act 2013 (NSW) have supported the NSWCCL submission concluding that no changes should be made to the Bail Act 2013 (NSW) in relation to the issues raised by the terms of reference. 

Bail laws exist to keep victims and the community safe until criminal proceedings are finalised, while safeguarding the presumption of innocence and general right to be at liberty until a matter is determined by the courts.

Given their significant potential to limit individual liberty, changes to the Bail Act must be justified by a clear and compelling policy rationale. Any such changes must be supported by appropriate evidence. NSWCCL's submission supports this. 

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Damning findings in Commencement of the Fisheries Management Amendment Act 2009 Report

The New South Wales Government parliamentary inquiry examining the 13-year-delay in commencing legislation to protect Indigenous cultural fishing has handed down its findings.

In 2009 the Fisheries Management Act was amended by the NSW Government to acknowledge Aboriginal people's unique cultural connection to sea and inland waters and to protect and promote Aboriginal cultural fishing. A special provision, section 21AA, was also introduced which was intended to protect Aboriginal people from compliance actions for fishing offences if they were undertaking cultural fishing. The Chair's forward sums it up. "Thirteen years later, section 21AA has still not been commenced, and extraordinarily, the will of the Parliament has failed to take effect." 

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