CCL has been concerned about the treatment in Immigration Detention Centres, and particularly in Villawood, of detainees who are put into quarantine for fourteen days when they return from medical or dental appointments outside of the centres.
Now The Saturday Paper reports that a detainee who was identified as a contact of a guard at Villawood who contracted COVID-19 has similarly been put into isolation in a room with no view outside and minimal furniture. Even worse, this time the light has been left on all night. This, as he complains, is a recognised form of torture.Read more
Update 20 October 2021: see also our joint media release prompted by the news of a decision to increase the commercial take.
Members of the Aboriginal community who have a right to fish under the Native Title Act 1993 are being prosecuted under the Fisheries Management Act 1994 (NSW) (FMA) contrary to those rights. Mounting a native title defence is both time consuming and expensive, meaning that a number of Aboriginal men have been incarcerated as they have been unable to defend themselves.
A legislative amendment that would resolve this situation was passed 11 years ago, but hasn't yet commenced. NSWCCL has written to the NSW Minister for Agriculture to urge him to immediately rectify this situation - rights that require a costly legal defence to enjoy are not worth the paper on which they're written.Read more
Four academics writing in The Conversation criticised Mark Latham's report into his own bill saying that the "inquiry ignores scientific research in supporting changes to the Education Act. These changes are likely to add to the risks of harm that transgender and gender-diverse young people face".
The piece quoted our Tweet stream calling out the inquiry and commending the minority report rather than the majority.
Full article: NSW inquiry rejects expert advice on Parental Rights Bill, and it will cause students to suffer The Conversation 14 Sept '21
Public Health Orders to manage the COVID-19 pandemic are being made and amended on the fly.
Given the speed at which they are drafted, the constant amendment and possibly the lack of care taken in their drafting, they have proven to be incredibly confusing.
They are almost impossible to understand - new evidence of the confusion that the Orders are causing emerges every day. Is sitting on a park bench or a beach eating something considered outdoor recreation? Is light walking a good enough reason to take one's mask off?
NSWCCL asks: how can the rule of law prevail where its subjects cannot ascertain the relevant law?
Lack of oversight
These Orders have a significant impact on our individual rights and liberties, effectively introduce serious offences, and are controlling the lives of millions of NSW residents - they should be subject to intense parliamentary scrutiny.
However, that isn't happening. The Orders are made by the Health Minister under section 7 of the Public Health Act 2010 and are effective immediately, with no review required. The checks and balances that usually apply to legislation are not in place.
The Regulation Committee
Since 2017, NSW's Regulation Committee has had a power to review "any instruments of a legislative nature regardless of its form, including the policy or substantive content of the instrument". Since last year, it has had the power to self refer.
NSWCCL has written to the Committee urging it to take on the scrutiny and review of the Orders, whether that is through the establishment of an inquiry, public or private communications with government or otherwise.
More information: Read our letter to the Regulation Committee
In the light of news that at least one guard has tested positive, NSWCCL is renewing its calls for refugees to be released from detention immediately.
Last week news broke that a guard at the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA), had tested positive for COVID-19 — the Delta variant. MITA is one of the larger detention centres for asylum seekers and non-citizens who have had their visas cancelled under the character test provisions of the Migration Act.Read more
SBS News covered Common Ground Towers residents' protest against 'overpolicing' on Saturday after revelations that officers were searching packages and confiscating alcohol under the direction of NSW Health.
The coverage quoted the open letter we signed with Amnesty International, Legal Observers NSW, Tenants Union NSW, Shelter NSW and Melbourne Activist Legal Support condemning "the inappropriate policing and unlawful searches imposed on residents of Common Ground in Camperdown".
Read the full article: Sydney social housing towers residents protest 'overpolicing' SBS News 11 Sept '21
NSWCCL wrote to the Leader of the Opposition Anthony Albanese and the Shadow Attorney General Mark Dreyfus to support the commitment in Labor’s national platform to review the Human Rights Framework established by previous Labor governments and consider whether it could be enhanced through a statutory charter of human rights or other similar instrument. We called for a commitment to that review in the first hundred days of the next Labor government as a catalyst to reform Australia’s ethical infrastructure.
More information: read our letter
NSWCCL joins Amnesty International, LONSW, Shelter and TUNSW in condemning the inappropriate policing and unlawful searches imposed on residents of Common Ground in Camperdown. We stand in solidarity with the residents in lockdown. Below is our joint open letter - also published on the Legal Observers NSW websiteRead more
NSWCCL condemns the report of the NSW Legislative Council inquiry into Mark Latham and One Nation’s so-called ‘Parental Rights’ Bill (the Education Legislation Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill 2020) released on the 7th of September. NSWCCL made a submission and gave oral evidence to the inquiry.
At the time, we said “NSWCCL considers that the Bill should not be passed. Not a single aspect of the Bill improves upon the law as it currently stands in NSW. Moreover, the Bill is an appalling contribution to public debate and education policy in this State.… The Bill:Read more
This opinion piece in The Echo argues that "at the bottom of every COVID-19 related rabbit hole ... is a conspiracy so vast, it is highly improbable. When you combine them, the hypothesis is so impossible it beggars’ rational belief."
It goes on to say: "Which means that every single cantankerous obstinate defence lawyer I know, and all the judges and magistrates, and the Council for Civil Liberties, and Legal Aid and the Aboriginal Legal Service and the Community Legal Centres and the Law Society and Bar Association are all wrong, and they know they are wrong, and they are suppressing a legal perspective that immediately liberates us all from these rules. And with no internal dissent. Really, what are the chances of that?"
Read the full article: The mathematics of delusion
On Thursday, in a blatant and cynical attempt to avoid transparency, the Government introduced a Bill that gives National Cabinet the status of a 'Cabinet' - meaning that the PMO can now keep its deliberations secret. This nullifies a recent finding by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) that the ‘National Cabinet’ was not a cabinet in any real sense of the word, so key documents should be released.Read more
Hosted by Julian Morrow, the Round Table on this week's Sunday Extra considered the hard questions about police powers during COVID. Highly restrictive health orders have become part of life over the past 18 months - with the focus now shifting to vaccines, have police powers gone too far? How much of the restrictions will and should be wound back?
Listen here: Sunday Extra 5 Sept '21 ABC Radio National from 2:26
The Guardian reports on an app being trialled in South Australia that uses facial recognition and geolocation to enforce home quarantine during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Our Secretary Michelle Falstein told the Guardian that the lack of primary legislation underpinning apps of this kind has made it difficult to assess how privacy concerns are managed, how long data is being kept, who it’s shared with, and how it is stored.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
Nobody should have to suffer unbearable pain and loss of control and dignity at the end of their lives - but that's exactly what happens in NSW. We need to change that.
There is overwhelming support for voluntary assisted dying (VAD) in Australia. Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania and South Australia have already passed VAD laws and a VAD bill is expected to pass in Queensland in September.
Independent MP Alex Greenwich is due to introduce a VAD Bill into NSW Parliament in 2021 - we need to make sure it's passed.
How can I help?
NSWCCL is part of the Dying with Dignity alliance - you can help the campaign by:
The Coast Community News examines the Government's COVID roadmap out of lockdown and talks to our President Pauline Wright about the current restrictions.
“While this deadly pandemic is still around," she said, "we do need to accept there are going to be some limits and we’re going to have to show that we have a licence to go about our business.
However, Wright said she was highly concerned over the range of ‘Stay at Home’ measures brought in by the NSW Government.Read more
The ABC's James Valentine considers the likelihood of Australia opening up once the vaccine rates climb high enough, and examines what privileges for the vaccinated will look like.
He talks to our President Pauline Wright (from 7 min), asking whether it's discrimination if a restaurant is open only to the vaccinated.
Pauline describes this as discrimination, but not unreasonable discrimination.
"We are used to certain kinds of discrimination being fine," she says. "For example, you would say only people who have a driver's licence can drive a car. That’s potentially discriminatory against people who don’t have a drivers licence, but it’s perfectly reasonable.
And that’s really what we’re talking about here. Our rights and freedoms aren’t absolute - we do have to take our rights and freedoms and compare them to other people’s rights and freedoms and balance that. So if I exercise my right and it has a terrible impact on your rights, then it’s not reasonable for me to be exercising that right in that way.”
For more: Afternoons with James Valentine, ABC Radio 30 Aug '21
The Law Society Journal asks: 'a ticket to freedom or a rubber-stamped restriction of our rights? As the debate rages about mandating vaccinations or incentivising those who get the jab done with exemptions from border closures and lockdowns, whose side is the law on?'
President Pauline Wright says: “Governments across Australia have the right under our Constitution to impose conditions about who passes their borders, including imposing health restrictions
and proof of vaccination.”
Full article: The tipping point: Are vaccine passports our ticket to ride? Law Society Journal 30 Sept '21
This article by Lamont Law, published on Lexology, begins with the case of a NSW truck driver who smuggled 145kg of cannabis across the QLD/NSW border.
It cites an Australian institute of Criminology report which found that:
- regular cannabis users reported using cannabis significantly more often than before the pandemic
- people who had changes in their employment, financial or living situation or mental health were more likely to increase cannabis use
- many users reported increased prices and decreasing numbers of dealers in Brisbane, Queensland
It considers sentencing for drug offences, planned reforms and our statement condemning a Bill that would provide police with extraordinary powers in circumstances where adequate powers currently exist to search and seize items related to drug activity.
Read the full article: Cannabis, Covid-19 and Drug Supply Lexology 27 Aug '21
NSWCCL is increasingly concerned about the impact on detainees in our immigration detention facilities of current quarantine arrangements. In particular, the treatment of people who return to detention centres after medical appointments is unacceptable.
- They are confined in small rooms for a fortnight.
- There is nothing in the room except a bed, an open toilet and a wash basin.
- The windows are tinted, so detainees cannot see out.
- There is no access to personal possessions.
- No reading material is available - not even a Bible, Torah or Koran.
- There's no exercise outside of the room.
- A change of under clothes may not be available for several days.
- There is a buzzer to call for attention, but people may have to wait for a lengthy period for a response.