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9News: New surveillance cars used to clock parking offences on Sydney streets

9News reports that new surveillance cars are being used in Sydney to detect parking violations. The vehicles are being touted by council authorities as the new frontier for parking penalties.

Instead of rangers chalking tires, they are driving cars fitted with special cameras that scan the number plates of vehicles. On their second run officers are then notified if a vehicle has overstayed parking time limits. The new surveillance has received a mixed reaction from locals.

When talking to 9News about the issue, our former president Stephen Blanks said:

"I don't think there is a general recognition of just how dangerous the level of surveillance we are all under can be,"

"People might think we have a good system, but we know things can go wrong."

For more information, read the full article. 
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9News: 'Dark days for our democracy'. What the new protest laws in NSW mean

The introduction of new anti-protest legislation rushed through NSW Parliament last week has been described as "a dark day for democracy", 9News reports. 

The Roads and Crimes Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 could see protesters who cause disruption to major roads, ports and train stations fined up to $20,000 and jailed for two years.

Groups such as the Human Rights Law Centre, Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT), NSW Council for Civil Liberties and the Environmental Defenders Office have all come out in opposition of the bill.

For more information, read the full article. 

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HRLC: Draconian new anti-protest law will hurt democracy in NSW

The passing of the Perrottet government’s new anti-protest law will undermine the ability of everyone in NSW to exercise their freedom to protest, a group of environmental, social justice and human rights organisations has warned.

The organisations slammed the bill, which was passed by the Legislative Council on Friday after being rushed through in less than a week.

The group, comprising the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT), the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, Human Rights Law Centre, Environmental Defenders Office and Australian Democracy Network, expressed concern about the constitutional validity of the new law and called on the Perrottet government to repeal it.

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Guardian: Labor helps pass NSW bill targeting road-blocking protesters despite union opposition

The guardian reports that the NSW Labor party has helped pass a bill that could see protesters who block roads, ports or rail in the state spend up to two years in jail, despite outrage from unions and environmental groups.

"But a series of organisations including the Aboriginal Legal Service, the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, the Human Rights Law Centre and the Environmental Defenders Office lined up to slam the legislation after it passed."

More information: read the full article.

 

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Joint media release: Perrottet government must stop pursuit of draconian anti-protest law

NSWCCL joined a coalition of environmental, social justice and human rights groups in urging the Perrottet government to halt its attempts to rush through a draconian anti-protest law, which could see peaceful community protesters jailed for up to two years.

The repressive measures in the Roads and Crimes Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 were waved through the NSW Legislative Assembly late on Wednesday night. The Bill is expected to be considered by the Legislative Council as soon as today.

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Challenges in establishing a federal integrity commission - Melbourne University

Our president Pauline Wright spoke to the 'Administrative Challenges in Practice' class at Melbourne University on the 30th of March 2022 discussing the challenges in establishing a federal integrity commission.

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About our 2022 election scorecard

Update 7 April 2022: view the scorecard results.

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Submission: CLOUD Act Agreement

NSWCCL made a joint submission with the Australian Information Industry Association to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties Inquiry into the Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of the United States of America on Access to Electronic Data for the Purpose of Countering Serious Crime under the CLOUD act.

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Michael West Media: Justice for whistleblower Bernard Collaery is as far away as ever

'In a setback for the defence, top-secret evidence will be allowed in the prosecution of Bernard Collaery, who exposed Australian spying in East Timor, an ACT Supreme Court judge has ruled,' reports Greg Barns.

The article quotes NSWCCL: "Here we have two people who told the truth, in the public interest, about Australia’s deplorable (and probably illegal) bugging of a friendly nation for commercial gain."

More information: read the full article

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Out in Perth: Advocates commend government rejection of Latham’s education bill

'LGBTQIA+ advocates are celebrating the end of a bill put forward by NSW One Nation leader Mark Latham targeting trans and gender diverse young people, as the state government release a report outlining their opposition to the legislation,' reports Leigh Andrew Hill.

'NSWGLRL led the effort to creating a joint statement against the bill early in its history. The joint statement was a diverse group of community and civil society organisations in NSW, from the Teacher’s Federation, NSWCCL, NCOSS, Youth Action, ACON and more.'

More information: read the full article

 

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An interesting court case: refugees start with a clean slate following revocation of visa cancellation

A visa holder can have his or her (usually his) visa cancelled if he fails the character test, under section 501 of the Migration Act. One way to fail that test is to be sentenced to imprisonment for 12 months or more. The term of imprisonment may be for a single offence, or it can the sum of more than one term.

If a person is held to have failed the test, his visa must be cancelled. It is mandatory. But the cancellation can be revoked, if a minister or her or his delegate (a public servant) decides to do so, or, in some cases, if the Administrative Appeals Commission decides that it should be revoked.

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'Anti-trolling' Bill will actually protect the powerful from critique

The Social Media (Anti-Trolling) Bill 2022 is a deeply concerning development because it is really about making reforms to defamation laws in ways that could particularly favour politicians and others with sufficient resources to pursue defamation remedies, and not about reducing trolling or the damage caused by trolling. 

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What’s happening to Australia’s refugees?

Update 7 April - since the time of writing, many refugees have been released in an apparent pre-election move. While this is to be welcomed, it appears that arbitrary decisions have been made about who to release and refugees have not been given sufficient notice or support. For more:

Inside the Park hotel in Melbourne, Australia and the world saw the stark reality of the nation’s approach to refugees. Cousins Mehdi and Adnan, who fled persecution in Iran as teenagers and have now grown up together in detention centres. Or Joy, who has survived shark bites, sickness, and beatings since he fled Bangladesh but still dreams of opening a restaurant in Australia. 

Jamal, having left his homeland when his work with Western forces in Afghanistan drew Taliban attention, was driven to such despair after five years in detention offshore that he set himself on fire. But he now looks for the signs of pro-refugee supporters outside the hotel every day: “the people who give me strength”.

Average time of detention: nearly two years

At the time of writing, Mehdi had just gained his freedom after nine years in detention. Let that sink in: Australia held a 15 year old refugee in detention until he was 24.

But more than 1,500 people remain detained in Australian immigration detention facilities. The average period spent in onshore immigration detention is 689 days, compared with 55 days in the United States and 14 days in Canada.  About 32 people were still detained in the Park Hotel at the end of January, according to the SMH. Meanwhile, according to the government’s latest figures, revealed in Senate estimates, 107 people – 81 refugees and 26 asylum seekers – were still held on Nauru. Though they have been released into the Nauru community, they cannot leave the island.  As of September 30, 2021, 278 asylum seekers and refugees were held in Australia’s locked immigration detention network (The remaining 1181 were mostly those whose visas had been cancelled on character grounds and are awaiting deportation).

Many of these people are recognised refugees to whom Australia owes protection - and they have no clear idea why they are being held when others have been released.  

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Sydney Criminal Lawyers: Home Affairs Is Turning Australia’s Foreign Spies on Our Own

Sydney Criminal Lawyers writes that Home Affairs 'is pressing for laws to streamline and hasten the abilities of foreign intelligence agencies, when agents are investigating Australians abroad, as well back here. And while some of these reforms are welcomed, others invoke the term “creeping surveillance state”.

The article quotes from submissions to the CROM Bill review, including the NSWCCL submission, which raised a concern that: 'the wording of these sections is so broad that it could lead to citizens being surveilled due to activities that aren’t terror-related, such as being part of a community fundraising event'.

For more information, read the full article.

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Submission: Modern Slavery

NSWCCL made a submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties Inquiry into the International Labour Organization Protocol of 2014 to Forced Labour Convention 1930 (No. 29).

We strongly support the ratification of this treaty; we also called for the adoption of this protocol so that its provisions become a part of domestic law. Rights with no remedy under Australian law are paper rights only - adoption is essential to ensure full protection for this vulnerable population.

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Letter: Strengthening the Character Test Bill

It now seems certain that, without opposition from the ALP, the Migration Act (Strengthening the Character Test) Amendment Bill will pass. We wrote to Kristina Keneally, the Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship stressing that the issues with the bill, which the ALP had twice rejected, remain. We called on the ALP, if it wins government in the forthcoming election, to set up an inquiry into all the ‘god powers’ in the Migration Act, and into the sections concerned with asylum seekers and visa cancellation, with an eye to substantially redrafting the act.

 

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Submission: Commencement of the Fisheries Management Amendment Act 2009

Update 30 May 2022: The parliamentary inquiry has published submissions and will hold a community hearing on the south coast on July 28, with hearings in other locations scheduled in August.

Aboriginal people should be able to exercise their traditional rights to fish free from the burden of fearing criminal charges.

In our submission into this inquiry, we outlined how the non-commencement of the Fisheries Management Amendment Act 2009 impacts the fundamental human rights of Aboriginal people living on the South coast of NSW. 

We proposed that the Government’s response should incorporate substantial initiatives to enable Aboriginal fishers to obtain a reasonable share of commercial quotas so that they can carry out their traditional activities in a meaningful and sustainable manner.

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The Age: CFMEU challenges Visy’s bid to track union official

Our President Pauline Wright spoke to The Age about paper giant Visy electronically tracking workers at a NSW plant, asking whether the trackers were appropriate for the intended purpose. A union official who had also been asked to wear a tracker commented that Visy's actions 'appear intended to discourage their employees from being union members'.

Ms Wright said:

“In this case, it’s probably legitimate to propose perimeter controls … [but] requiring people to wear a device that locates them inside the premises ... it would seem to be disproportionate,” Ms Wright said.

“It sounds pretty invasive to me.”

Read the full article

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Letter: the treatment of temporary migrants

Many migrant workers come to Australia to undertake work in order to send money home to support their families. These people’s visa conditions tie them each to a single sponsoring employer, such that if they leave those employers they lose their visas and have to return home.

A recent ABC podcast dealt with an investigation into some most unsatisfactory consequences of this arrangement.

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Time to review the Immigration Minister's ‘god-like powers’

Now that the dust has settled on the Djokovic saga, it’s time to consider the appropriateness of the Immigration Minister’s remarkable powers in relation to visas and how they are exercised.

This isn’t the first time individual visa interventions by the Minister have made the headlines: recall Peter Dutton’s controversial intervention to grant visas to two foreign au pairs in 2015, or the 2004 Phillip Ruddock “cash for visas” scandal, each of which led to a Senate Inquiry.

As Liberty Victoria’s 2017 report “Playing God” pointed out,  ‘the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection is granted the most personal discretion of any Minister by an overwhelming margin. More legislative provisions confer ‘public interest’ or ‘national interest’ discretions on him than on any other Minister … He or she has a power over individual lives, relatively unchecked by courts, that is greater than that of any other Minister, including the Prime Minister.’

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