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Submission: Review of the Ethical Clothing Extended Responsibilities Scheme 2005 (NSW)

In New South Wales, the Ethical Clothing Trades Extended Responsibility Scheme operates as a mandatory scheme for protecting the entitlements of outworkers in the textile clothing and footwear industries (TCF). The term ‘outworkers' refer to workers who perform work outside conventional business premises and factories, and instead in their own residential premises. The problem with the scheme is that it hasn't been operational since around 2014 and in the ensuing years the functions of Scheme have been incorporated by the legislative regime created by the Fair Work Act and employment and workplace safety legislation. The devil is the detail. Our submission urges that the government ensure suitable resourcing is available for reporting and enforcement in Australia AND we do more, much more, to ensure that international supply chains are free from modern slavery.

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Submission: Jury Amendment Bill 2023

The NSWCCL recognises the importance of increasing the efficiency of jury empanelment, the provision of enhanced support for jurors to perform their role and reducing the expenditure of resources on trials that are ultimately aborted or result in hung juries. The NSWCCL also recognises the validity of majority verdict legislation in criminal and coronial trials. However, the NSWCCL is concerned that the proposed amendment to Section 55F of the Jury Act 1977 (The Act) may compromise a jury’s ability to properly consider the guilt to innocence of an accused person, and that such a compromise is made in exchange for a speculative and nominal reduction in the expenditure of resources on trials and reduction in hung juries. The NSWCCL is further concerned that the proposed amendment to Section 73A(1) of the Act unnecessarily broadens the investigative power of the NSW Sherriff’s Office (Sherriff). The broadening of the investigative power is significant and not safeguarded or constrained by current legislation.

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Submission: Access to Australian Parliament House by lobbyists

At present in Australia we rely on a public lobbyist Register and a Code of Conduct that does not cover the majority of lobbyists. Third party, or commercial lobbyists are paid professionals who are engaged by clients to make representations to influence public officials on their behalf, while in-house lobbyists are those that seek to influence public officials on behalf of their employer. Industries hire professional in-house lobbyists and former politicians for their connections, paying fees well outside the budget of non-corporate actors. This is simply NOT good enough!

Fossil fuel industry lobbyists have included former Liberal Party, National Party and ALP ministers. We know that lobbying by the fossil fuel industry to hinder effective climate action has been successful in slowing down Australia’s response to the Climate Crisis. Recent history shows us that relentless lobbying knocked out Australia’s chance to have an effective emissions trading scheme, a mining tax and price on carbon. If the halls of Parliament are saturated by industry lobbyists and not counterbalanced by community voices, politicians’ views will be skewed to favour industry.

Safeguarding our democracy from the pressures of big money and big influence will improve the functioning of government and ensure that political outcomes are in the public’s best interests. The Australian public deserve those who they have elected to serve their interests – and their interests alone.

Australians are at risk of further losing faith and trust in our civil institutions, our political institutions and our elected politicians if Governments do not embrace transparency and accountability advocated in our submission.

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Submission: Inquiry into the administration of the 2023 NSW state election & other matters

Misinformation and disinformation in political advertising is a widespread problem in Australia. We think, that NSW should have truth in political advertising laws for NSW state elections and believe that such laws would enhance the integrity and transparency of the electoral system. Misleading political advertising can cause serious societal harms including:

  • the erosion of trust in democratic processes;
  • the weakening of trust between and among public and private entities;
  • the weakening legitimacy of the social contract between voters and elected representatives; and
  • the undermining of an informed populace.

In our submission to Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (Committee) regarding the administration of the 2023 NSW state election and other matters. We express views in respect of:

  • political donations from property developers, including through shell companies and charities;
  • truth in political advertising;
  • the timeliness of political donation disclosures; and
  • electoral participation and enfranchisement, particularly regarding imprisoned persons and people living with disability.

Read our submission here.

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CityHub: Calls for independent review of police weapons after murder of Sydney couple

The recent tragic deaths of Jesse Baird and Luke Davies have sparked demands for an immediate, impartial examination of the connection between law enforcement practices and the use of weapons.

The alleged murdered Senior Constable Beau Lamarre-Condon, who has been accused of the crime and was affiliated with the youth command, reportedly used a police firearm to shoot victims. 

Additionally, further concerns have been raised around firearm regulation within the NSW police as Lamarre-Condon allegedly checked out a gun for a period of 3 days whilst on recurrent leave and sick-leave.

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Sydney Criminal Lawyers: NSW Police Out of Mardi Gras Has Been a Long-Time Coming, as March Requests Cops Not Attend

Recently the NSW Police Force were disinvited of the from this year’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

This comes after NSW police senior constable Beau Lamarre-Condon allegedly shot 26 year old Jesse Baird and 29 year old Luke Davies on the 19th of February. The incident involving Senior Constable Beau Lamarre-Condon, underscores longstanding concerns regarding police violence. Additionally, Lamarre-Condon's history, including a prior incident of excessive force, raises serious questions about the culture within the NSW Police Force.

This incident, coupled with ongoing concerns about institutional prejudice, prompted the Mardi Gras Board to act.

The recent tragedy also sheds light on the broader issue of intimate partner violence, affecting both the queer community and society at large. The tragic deaths serve as a reminder of the crisis of violence, particularly within marginalized communities.

Ultimately, the Mardi Gras Board's decision reflects the community's demand for accountability and justice in the face of tragedy. It marks a pivotal moment in the ongoing struggle for inclusivity and safety within the LGBTIQA+ community.

 

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Community Vigil: Jesse Baird and Luke Davies, Friday, March 1 @ 6.30pm

Jesse Baird and Luke Davies had their lives taken far too soon in the most tragic of circumstances. With the permission of Jesse and Luke’s families, our community is invited to come together and honour their memories. To the family and friends of Jesse and Luke, we are so sorry – our hearts are with you.

Condolence books will be available onsite.

Where: Green Park, Darlinghurst

When: Friday, March  at 6.30PM

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Open Letter: Community, Legal and Civil Society calls for policing reform

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Letter: NSW Policing and the queer community

The Hon. Michael Daley
Attorney General

The Hon. Yasmin Catley
Minister for Police

Commissioner Karen Webb APM

All via webform

Dear Ministers and Commissioner,

RE: NSW Policing and the queer community

We write on behalf of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) to express concern about the alleged murder of a gay couple by a serving NSW Police Officer. This tragic case ought to cause you to pause and consider if the settings around policing in NSW are appropriately calibrated, especially in relation to the queer community. In our view, they are not and your urgent attention is required.

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Media Statement: Let's talk about police reform and weapons

On 26 February NSWCCL wrote to the Attorney General, Minister for Police and Police Commissioner to register our concern about systemic policing issues which are brought into focus again by the alleged murder of Jesse Baird and Luke Davies.  

Our letter is attached and calls for three things: the disarming of general duties Police Officers; an independent inquiry into police use of force and weapons; and, an end to the practice of police investigating police for misconduct and excessive use of force.

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CityHub: Three overdose on tablets sold as MDMA but were actually potent opioid

Recently three people in Sydney were hospitalised after taking pills that they believed to be MDMA but actually contained a powerful opioid, nitazene. Individuals taking as little as half a tablet were hospitalised. 

In response to these hospitalizations, NSW Health issued an urgent warning about the tablets, describing them as orange or red, rectangular in shape, featuring a red bull logo and text.

This incident has reignited calls for drug testing.

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CityHub: Remembering TJ Hickey amidst government failures in closing the gap

The twentieth anniversary of the passing of TJ Hickey, a young Indigenous individual, serves as yet another stark reminder of the numerous First Nations individuals who have lost their lives due to encounters with law enforcement or correctional systems. 

This anniversary coincides with the release of an update on the Closing the Gap report by the Federal Government, marking the sixteenth anniversary of the National Apology to Indigenous People. This report has shown that progress on some target have gone backwards. 

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Media Release: Remembering TJ Hickey amidst government failures to close the gap

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the death of First Nations teenager, TJ Hickey. The NSW Council for Civil Liberties joins his family, friends, and the First Nations community in solemn remembrance.

On February 14, 2004, TJ tragically died after being impaled on a fence during interactions with NSW Police. His death remains deeply etched in the hearts and minds of his family, friends, and the First Nations community.

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Pearls and Irritations: Police debunk Pro-Israel NSW premier’s false “Gas the Jews” claim

In 2023, a video surfaced, widely reported by outlets like Fox News, TMZ, and the Monthly, purportedly showing pro-Palestine protesters at the Opera House chanting "Gas the Jews," according to the video's captions. However, following an extensive investigation by the NSW Police into its authenticity, they have concluded that there is no evidence supporting these claims.

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Submission: Future foundations for giving draft report

NSWCCL endorses the draft recommendations of the Commission which will bring reforms to the Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) system, making it more transparent, simpler, fairer and more consistent. The current DGR system is complex legislation and operates under outdated categories that do not capture the diversity of modern Australian charities. In our submission we comment specifically on areas that require further action to ensure a more democratic process and that align more consistently with civil rights. Our submission also concentrates on the system that determines which entities in Australia can receive tax deductable donations rather than tax incentives encouraging donation.  

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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.

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Submission: Division 3 of Part III of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979

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.

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Crikey: Calls for further ‘Gas the Jews’ investigation as group behind footage mocks police finding

Three months ago, protestors gathered at the Sydney Opera House steps, illuminated to commemorate Hamas' attack on Israel on October 7. Following the protest, reports surfaced of anti-Semitic slogans. Fahad Ali, one of the organizers, confirmed these reports and stated that the small group responsible was asked to leave. However, it was the alleged chant of "Gas the Jews" that garnered significant attention with videos circulated and aired by the Australian Jewish Association and Sky News allegedly captured the chants, with both videos carrying corresponding captions.

Recently, the accuracy of the footage has come under scrutiny. While other chants were undoubtedly anti-Semitic, the specific Holocaust reference carried potential legal implications, possibly constituting incitement to violence.

Various Jewish and Palestinian organizations are urging for a deeper investigation following an announcement by NSW Police stating they lack evidence supporting claims that pro-Palestinian demonstrators chanted "Gas the Jews" during a protest at the Sydney Opera House. The publishers of the contested footage have declined to acknowledge any inaccuracies.

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Vale Lowitja O'Donoghue

WARNING: This blog contains the name of an Aboriginal person who has died.

Lowitja O’Donoghue, a Yankunytjatjara woman, Australian activist and leader died on Sunday on Kaurna Country in Adelaide. Today the NSWCCL pays tribute to her life and work which led  groundbreaking reforms for Indigenous peoples across the nation.

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Indigenous Deaths in Custody Double Over The Decade

Since 2007 Indigenous deaths in police custody have doubled with 2023 as the deadliest year on record for First Nations people in prison. The recently published report released by The Australian Institute of Criminology, shed light on this, with over 556 Indigenous deaths in custody in the 32 years since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. 

Between July 1, 2022, and June 30, 2023, a total of 21 Indigenous prisoners lost their lives while incarcerated. This marks the highest death-in-custody toll since 1980. Further, this report highlighted the deaths of 11 individuals who were unsentenced at the time of their passing. 

The report has additionally highlighted that New South Wales is the most likely place for someone to die while being arrested, held or pursued.

Ashleigh Buckett - an associate legal director at the National Justice Project said that the government was slow to respond to a royal commission on Aboriginal deaths in custody and emphasised the necessity for change. 

"There have been over 500 Aboriginal deaths in custody since 1991, but only a handful of prosecutions," she said.

"The government already has the recommendations to guide its response, the question now is whether it has the will."

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