NSWCCL News

Review: 2019 Annual General Meeting

The 56th Annual General Meeting of the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) was held at the Sydney Town Hall Council Chamber, George Street Sydney on Wednesday 23rd October.

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2019 AGM Policy Proposal - Press Freedom & Whistle Blowers

Press Freedom and Whistleblowers

Policy motion considered at the NSWCCL 2019 Annual General Meeting, 23rd October 2019

NSWCCL has for many years defended the rights of a free and uncensored press to ensure the public is sufficiently informed and able to hold those in power to account.

We support the statements of Ita Buttrose at our 2019 annual dinner that there are storm clouds gathering around the ways that information is controlled. Whistleblowers who bring stories to light must not be subjected to a public show of prosecution under the guise of national security, or be censored because their story may cause embarrassment or cost to those in power.

We believe that whistleblowers are not adequately protected in Australia. Particularly in the absence of a bill or charter of rights, specific protection should be enacted.

 

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2019 AGM Policy Proposal - Religious Discrimination Bill

Religious Discrimination Bill 2019

Policy motion considered at the NSWCCL 2019 Annual General Meeting, 23rd October 2019

NSWCCL cannot support the Religious Discrimination Bill (the Bill) as currently drafted. It has too many negative aspects which will undermine current anti-discrimination protections and it fails to address pressing issues. NSWCCL strongly opposes the privileging of religious freedoms over other rights.

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NSWCCL President (and Former DPP) urges drug overhaul

Media coverage: Sydney Morning Herald

The state's former top prosecutor has urged the Berejiklian government to decriminalise the use and possession of illicit drugs in NSW as the "first step" towards full legalisation, as the Premier maintains her opposition to overhauling drug policy to allow a pill testing trial.

Nicholas Cowdery, QC, who was Director of Public Prosecutions in NSW for 16 years, said "any coherent government drug and alcohol policy must be based on health and social foundations, not on the criminal law".

"It is the only practical and principled way to proceed, [and is] also in accordance with human rights," he said.

Mr Cowdery, who is now president of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, said "decriminalisation, in my view, is just a first step" and the state should eventually move to the "legalisation, regulation, control and taxation of all drugs".

Read more HERE.

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NSWCCL President - Morrison's plan "totally contrary" to the right to freedom of expression

Media Coverage: Sydney Morning Herald

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has sparked a furore over free speech by vowing to draft new laws to ban protesters from boycotting companies, prompting claims his "feverish" talk would curb the rights of all Australians.

NSW Council for Civil Liberties president Nicholas Cowdery said Mr Morrison's plan was "totally contrary" to the right to freedom of expression and that existing laws could deal with unruly conduct or assault.

"Large issues such as climate change and protection of the environment encourage strong responses by citizens whose broader rights are affected," Mr Cowdery said. "Protest action may well increase if effective measures are not taken by commercial interests to address those issues. Citizens should not be criminalised for taking such action.

"The Prime Minister says that they will take their time to get it right. No matter how long they take, they cannot get right wanton infringement of the rights of Australians."

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Byron Bay Officer charged over 2018 teen arrest

Media coverage: Byron Bay Echo

One of the officers involved in the arrest of a teenager in the Byron CBD last year has been charged with common assault.

The extended delay in deciding whether or not to lay charges in relation to the incident has drawn widespread criticism of the NSW DPP, and the system more broadly.

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties described the delay as ‘unacceptable’.

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Submission: Religious Discrimination Bills 2019

NSWCCL opposes many aspects of the proposed Religious Discrimination Bill, most significantly the over-privileging of religious rights in relation to all other rights.  It has too many negative aspects which will undermine current anti-discrimination protections, and in its present form, the Bill fails to address pressing issues.

It is clearly important for Australia’s discrimination laws to work cohesively together and for no one right to be automatically privileged over another/others.  The protection and balancing of human rights would be greatly assisted by the adoption of an Australian Charter of Human Rights and by a review of Australia’s state and federal human rights laws to ensure the appropriate coherence and consistency. The current Review by the Australian Law Reform Commission into The Framework of Religious Exemptions in Anti-Discrimination Legislation will contribute to this from the perspective of religious rights - but the broader exercise is necessary.

One of the major disappointments with this Bill is the failure to include much needed and explicitly promised protections for LGBTQI+ students in religious and private schools. This Bill has been hastily drawn up in advance of the report from the inquiry into The Framework of Religious Exemptions in Anti-Discrimination Legislation under way by the ALRC,  but one of the most urgent and disturbing manifestations of inappropriate religious exemptions for otherwise unlawful discriminatory acts against children has deliberately not been addressed in the Bill and instead left to the ALRC review. Simultaneously the reporting date for the ALRC review has been pushed back to December 2020.

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Submission: Health Legislation Amendment (Data Matching) Bill 2019

The New South Wales Council of Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) welcomes the opportunity to make submissions to the Department of Health on the Health Legislation Amendment (Data- matching) Bill 2019 (Bill) and the Health Legislation Amendment (Permitted Information Disclosure) Regulations 2019.

NSWCCL supports the integrity of the Medicare health payments system provided that appropriate safeguards are in place to protect sensitive information and the privacy of Australians is respected.

NSWCCL objects to the sharing of sensitive health information with other Commonwealth entities and opposes the Bill in its current form. NSWCCL has a number of recommendations detailed in this submission. 

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Former Senator has ‘absurd’ protestor bail conditions dismissed

Media coverage: The Guardian

Former Greens senator Scott Ludlam has had bail conditions – that banned him from associating with Extinction Rebellion climate change protests – dismissed by a judge following his arrest at a protest earlier this week. The strict conditions prevented Ludlam from appearing in court on Thursday, due to restrictions on coming to the Sydney CBD.

The New South Wales Council of Civil Liberties said the conditions were “absurd”, would affect thousands of people, and infringed on the constitutional right to freedom of political communication.

Read more HERE.

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Climate change protesters slam ‘harsh bail conditions’

Media coverage: The New Daily

Extinction Rebellion activists have accused police of being politically motivated in their “brutal” handling of climate protests.

NSW Council for Civil Liberties president Pauline Wright said such bail conditions were usually reserved for members of bikie gangs – not social or political groups.

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