City Hub: Police withdraw false story that protesters blocked ambulance
NSW police have withdrawn a false allegation that four climate change protesters who stopped traffic on the Sydney Harbour Bridge last year blocked an ambulance.
Police included this false allegation in a statement that the police prepared on the day of the arrests. The false allegation was designed to paint a hostile image of four peaceful protesters and to successfully argue for onerous bail conditions, including severe restrictions on their movements, and tough sentences.
NSWCCL President Josh Pallas described the case as “an outrageous” example of “police misstating the facts which have been consequential in the sentences of others. The police have offered no justification for this misstatement of facts. They must be held accountable and at the very least, explain how they got this so wrong.”Read more
Sydney Criminal Lawyers: NSW Police Falsely Claimed that Violet Coco Blocked an Ambulance
NSW civil society was appalled when Violet Coco received a 15 month prision sentence in respose to her taking part in a Fireproof Australia action that blocked one lane of the Sydney Harbour Bridge for 25 mins.
During the hearing, NSW police argued that Coco and the three other Fireproof Australia activists conducting the nonviolent direct action had blocked an ambulance trying to get across this bridge with its lights and sirens on responding to an emergency which had been one of the main arguments against these road-blocking protests.
This allegation has since been redrawn by the NSW police, which prompted NSWCCL president Josh Pallas to release a media statement.Read more
Attorney-General calls deaths in custody a national shame but fails to back action
Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus says incarceration rates and deaths in custody of Indigenous Australians are a national shame but stopped short of backing Aboriginal senator Pat Dodson’s calls for immediate action on 30-year-old royal commission recommendations, SMH's Lisa Visentin and James Massola report.
In Dodson's powerful intervention, calling out the inaction of successive governments, he said the the Albanese government has an obligation to act on the findings of the royal commission and make sure that people taken into custody have the care that they need.Read more
Media Statement: NSW Police forced to withdraw false allegations against peaceful protesters
Today in Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court protesters, Alan Glover and Karen Fitz-Gibbon, were sentenced on pleas of guilty to charges arising from blocking one lane of the Sydney Harbour Bridge for about 30 minutes in April of 2022. This afternoon, both received 18 month Community Correction Orders with a fine of $3000 each.
The police’s initial allegation that the protest blocked an ambulance with its sirens on was withdrawn in court. That allegation contributed to the Court decisions last year to impose harsh bail conditions and previously unheard of custodial sentences for non-violent, peaceful protesters who were co-defendants of the people sentenced today.
Magistrate Daniel Riess noted that ‘Violet’ Deanna Coco and Jay Larbalestier has both been sentenced of the “false ambulance assertion” and that “no emergency vehicles were obstructed”. The police have now withdrawn the allegation that the protest hindered any ambulance.Read more
USYD should reverse suspensions placed on student protesters
Today NSWCCL President, Josh Pallas wrote to University of Sydney Vice Chancellor, Professor Mark Scott to urge Professor Scott to reconsider the reported suspension of two students, Maddie Clarke and Deaglan Godwin, who protested at a University of Sydney University Law Student’s Society event in September 2022.
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) considers the reported half-year suspensions of these two students to be excessive and disproportionate. We asked USYD to immediately reverse these suspensions.
Student protests against invited speakers on campus have a long history and occur in the spirit of academic freedom and the free flow of ideas in educational institutions. Such speeches and student protests are often controversial but are essential to the interplay between university management and the student body within a community which is meant to foster free thought and thinking.
Prominent members of our society, including the current Prime Minister of Australia, participated as students in disruptive protests on campus.Read more
Submission: Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (CRIS) informing the sharing of General Practice Data and use of Electronic Clinical Decision Support (eCDS).
The CRIS poses a series of questions to further identify the challenges of and options for the sharing of general practice data and the use of eCDS. The objective is to use general practice data to inform government health policy and for public health research. Rather than answering each specific question posed, the NSW Council for Civil Liberties submission focuses on the privacy implications for patient consumers of general practice services and use of eCDS. The submission covers the four identified problem areas of data sharing and consent; data quality, comparability and linkage; data governance, oversight and coordination; and the increased use of eCDS by GPs.Read more
Submission: Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee in regard to the Migration Amendment (Evacuation to Safety) Bill 2023.
Update: 9 March 2023 Yesterday Labor the Australian Labor Party joined with the Liberals to vote against the Greens' legislation to evacuate refugees and people seeking asylum from Nauru and PNG to safety in Australia. This is a devastating blow for the 150 people still trapped in limbo. NSWCCL condemn the Labor Party for betraying refugees and people seeking asylum.
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties, civil society and human rights organisations welcome the introduction of the Migration Amendment Evacuation to Safety Bill 2023 in the Senate. This Bill is required to urgently resolve the situation of those refugees and asylum seekers still living in Papua New Guinea and Nauru. Australian asylum seeker policy is a gross breach of human rights and decency. It is inconsistent with its obligations under international law.
The Bill offers the chance to reform the law to bring Australia’s immigration policies in line with our international obligations under the Refugee Convention, by bringing all refugees and people seeking asylum to Australia while determinations are made about durable solutions.Read more
NSWCCL Statement: UN torture prevention body terminates visit to Australia
The UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) has been forced to terminate its suspended visit to Australia signalling to the international community that Australia is shamefully failing in its obligations under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Torture (OPCAT). The NSW Council for Civil Liberties call on all Australian governments to prioritise the implementation of the OPCAT and to meet our obligations to the people held in detention.
In compliance with obligations under the OPCAT, Australia must execute two simple functions for the establishment of the principles of the OPCAT into law. First, to set up, designate and maintain a network of Commonwealth, state and territory inspectorates (each referred to as NPM Bodies) responsible for inspecting and making recommendations about places of detention within their jurisdiction. Second, to facilitate visits to Australia, including to places of detention under Australia's jurisdiction and control, by the SPT. NSW has yet to nominate an NPM Coordinator or implement the OPCAT into law.Read more
NSWCCL welcomes the move to grant permanent residency for refugees
On February 13 the Albanese Government announced that it would end the cruel and unnecessary policy of temporary protection. This means that those who already have a Temporary Protection Visa (TPV) or Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV) will be able to apply for a permanent Resolution of Status (RoS) Visa.
This is wonderful news for the thousands of people who have been living in limbo on these cruel and inhumane visas for over a decade. Those granted a new visa will have the same rights and benefits as all other permanent residents, and will be immediately eligible for social security payments, access to the NDIS and higher education assistance. People on TPVs and SHEVs have been living and working in our community, paying taxes, creating employment and strengthening our economy for years.
Privacy Act Review Report Released
The Privacy Act Review Report was released on 16 February 2023. NSWCCL was pleased to see that many of the recommendations the Council made in our submission were supported by the review.
A key recommendation in our submission which was adopted by the review is ensuring the collection of, use and disclosure of personal information is fair and reasonable, including whether the “impact on privacy is proportionate to the benefit”. The Council supports the inclusion of non-exhaustive legislated factors that are relevant to determining whether the collection, use, or disclosure of personal information is fair and reasonable in the circumstances. However, it considers that clear guidance and examples of how these factors may apply in practice must be provided.Read more
InnovationAus: What’s your vector, Victor? Canberra’s tangled web awaits
Dr Lesley Seebeck writes - We all know that the Australian government needs considerable work to bring it up to date with the systems and services – and user experience – we’ve come to expect from the major digital platforms.
Political support for innovation in Canberra is a timid and fickle beast. IT development and delivery rarely goes to plan, is an attractive cash cow for the legion of vendors, consultants and contractor, and a ready target for political attacks, worthy or otherwise.
Yet ministers seem convinced that resolving the ongoing issues and from their perspective performance of the public service is simply a matter getting the right bloke in – or, depending on who has a parliamentary pass – the right consultancy or vendor.
Read more here.
Guardian: NSW police criticised for ‘outrageous’ midnight arrest of student who protested at RBA
Michael McGowan reports that the New South Wales police have been criticised for a “heavy-handed” midnight arrest and detention of a university student over a protest.
Cherish Kuehlmann, 23, a student at the University of New South Wales, said she was woken up at about 12.30am on Saturday to the sound of “four or five” police officers “banging loudly” on the door of her unit in Eastlakes in Sydney’s inner south-east.Read more
Over 70% of NSW Police records of use of force contained inaccuracies, review reveals
In a review by the NSW Law Enforcement Conduct Commission, it was found that over 70% of the NSW Police Force records regarding the use of force that were reviewed had at least one inaccuracy despite supervsing officers checking those records, NIT's Giovanni Torre reports.
The report urged the NSW Police Force improve the training and instructions given to officers about how to record use-of-force.Read more
City Hub: Inner West Labor votes down call for repeal of anti-protest laws
Journalist Wendy Bacon reports that Inner West Labor has used their narrow majority to defeat a motion calling for repeal of NSW’s draconian anti-protest laws at the Inner West Council (IWC) meeting last week.
Inner West Councillor and Greens candidate for Balmain Kobi Shetty moved a motion calling for the Mayor Darcy Byrne to write to the Attorney General and Shadow Attorney General calling for the repeal of the laws and an end to heavy handed policing of protestors.Read more
Peter Hughes: No basis for temporary protection visa scare mongering
Opening up access to permanent residence for long stay refugees on temporary visas is right and inevitable. The decision will not set off a major new surge of maritime asylum seekers. The Coalition and their supporters have selective memories. Temporary protection visas were never a deterrent anyway.
The government’s decision to allow access to permanent residence to some 19,000 people who arrived by sea in Australia over a decade ago, who have been found to be refugees, and who are locked in a theoretically endless cycle of three or five year temporary visas, is the right thing to do.Read more
SMH: ‘Deeply shocking’: Iranian protester hospitalised after arrest in Canberra
An Iranian-Australian human rights protester who has been hospitalised with serious injuries claims an Australian Federal Police officer assaulted him while peacefully protesting outside the Iranian embassy in Canberra.
Hamid Sotounzadeh was handcuffed and detained by police while protesting outside the embassy on Thursday morning and was found lying concussed by fellow protesters.Read more
The Guardian: NSW woman to receive $18,000 after police looking into suspected Covid protest trespassed on property
The New South Wales government has been ordered to pay out more than $18,000 after two police officers climbed a locked gate and trespassed on a northern rivers property owned by a woman they suspected was organising a protest in breach of Covid laws, the Guardian's Tasmin Rose reports.
The NSW supreme court justice Robertson Wright found that the senior constables had violated the privacy of property owner Sanchia Romani, awarding her $18,334.69 in damages over the trespass.
Josh Pallas, president of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, said the choice by officers to enter the property despite the signage “either demonstrates poor judgment” or “systemic failure on the part of NSW police” to teach officers about the law.Read more
PinkNews: Protest outside funeral of homophobic cardinal George Pell to go ahead despite police intervention
LGBTQ+ activists in Sydney, Australia will be allowed to protest outside the funeral of homophobic cardinal and convicted sex offender George Pell, following attempts by police to block their march, PinkNews' Joe Ali reports.
NSW police sought to obtain a court order which would have stopped protestors from gathering, citing section 25 of the state’s Summary Offences Act, but have since announced it will not attempt to stop LGBTQ+ campaigners.Read more
ABC News: Cardinal George Pell protest to take place at same time as Sydney funeral after compromise
A dispute between NSW Police and LGBT activists over a rally coinciding with Cardinal George Pell's Sydney funeral has been resolved after the route of a peaceful march was altered, ABC's Jamie McKinnell reports.
The group Community Action for Rainbow Rights (CARR), planned to hold a march from Hyde Park alongside St Mary's Cathedral on Thursday morning which prompted NSW Police to apply to the state's supreme court for an order to prohibit the event due to 'public safety concerns'.
After discussion, Mr De Brennan, who was representing NSW Police, told the judge an "in principle agreement" for an alternative route had been reached, which went "up to College Street but not on it".Read more
The Latch: “Pell Go to Hell”: Cardinal to Be Buried in Sydney But Protestors Won’t Let Him Go Quietly
The late Cardinal, George Pell, Australia’s highest-ranking Catholic and one of the most powerful people in the Church, is set to be sent off into the great beyond on Thursday. This will be his second funeral, after the one he already had in the Vatican, presided over by Pope Francis, the Latch's Jack Revell reports.
The Community Action for Rainbow Rights (CARR), is organising a “Pell Go to Hell” march to be held at the same time as his requiem mass on Thursday.
NSW Police sought a court order to prevent the protest from taking place, citing “safety concerns,” however they have since said that a compromise has been reached with the protesters. CARR’s march will now walk to College Street but not up it.Read more