Civil liberties councils demand scrutiny of national security legislation

Public statement from The NSW Council for Civil Liberties, Liberty Victoria, The Queensland Council for Civil Liberties, The SA Council for Civil Liberties, Civil Liberties Australia

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CCLs call for consultation on new national security laws

The federal government will seek to introduce legislation giving Australian intelligence agencies new powers and to create a new offence for when intelligence officers take material without appropriate authorisation.

Article: Australian intelligence agencies to be given new powers

Source: The Guardian, 15/7/2014


NSWCCL claims 100 agencies have access to Opal cards data

NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione has defended police being given powers to access Opal card records as a crucial tool to ensure the "safety and security of the community".

Article: Police Commissioner defends access to Opal card records

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, 15/7/2014


NSW Opal card raises privacy concerns

Australia's spy agency could get its hands on the home address and travel history of NSW commuters using the state's Opal card, a civil liberty group warns.

Article: NSW Opal card raises privacy concerns

Source:, 15/7/2014


Opal card privacy rules need tightening to protect personal details: civil libertarians

The New South Wales public transport operator needs to change its privacy policy to stop travellers' personal details being given to police too freely, civil libertarians have warned.

Article: Opal card privacy rules need tightening to protect personal details: civil libertarians

Source: ABC News, 15/7/2014


Drones pose growing privacy risk: report

Rapid growth in drone usage highlights urgent need for regulation, Secretary Lesley Lynch comments on behalf of NSWCCL

Article: Drones pose growing privacy risk: report

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, 15/07/2014


No warrants needed to access opal card records

NSW and federal law enforcement agencies have been given the power to access the travel history and home addresses of hundreds of thousands of commuters using the new Opal card.

NSWCCL President Stephen Blanks comments

Article: No warrants needed to access opal card records

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, 15/07/2014


Opal histories accessed without warrant

NSW and federal government agencies can access the travel history and home addresses of thousands of Opal card users without a warrant under new laws.

Article: Opal histories accessed without warrant

Source: Ninemsn, 15/7/2014


CCLs demand scrutiny of national security laws

Civil Liberties Councils across Australia urge the Government- and failing that- the Australian
Parliament to ensure that the foreshadowed national security legislation is subject to proper scrutiny
and not rushed through parliament next week-as some media suggest is the Government’s intention.

The, as yet unseen, legislation will implement most of the 22 recommendations from chapter 4 of
the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Surveillance (PJCIS) report.

This is important legislation with significant implications for national security and for the workings of
our democracy. It is of fundamental importance that we get the balance right in this area.

Members of Parliament and the Australian public must have the time to consider and take advice
on these national security proposals before they are enacted into law.

Parliament must be certain the new laws are necessary, that they include strong protections for privacy and effective independent oversight of the use of these new powers by the intelligence agencies.

The Government should abide by the recommendations of the PJCIS and:

  • release the proposals as an exposure draft bill for public consultation
  • refer the draft legislation for review by an appropriate parliamentary committee (the CCLs consider the PJCIS most appropriate)


Read CCLS Public Statement 


Aeroplane in backyard sparks rubbish row

Should ugliness be illegal? Do your neighbours have the right to keep an old aeroplane in their backyard, even if it assails your eyes?

Article: Aeroplane in backyard sparks rubbish row

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, 7/7/2014


Premier pressured into hasty review of bail laws

Following several weeks of ill-informed media agitation led by the DT criticising the release on bail of several persons charged with serious crimes, Premier Baird has set up a hasty review of the new bail law which has been in operation for only one month.

This is a distressing development. There is no reason for a review at this time. The bail law reforms implemented in 2013 by the current Government were moderate and ‘supported by the overwhelming majority of submissions to the Law Reform Commission’s review of bail, including the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Police and Legal Aid NSW." (Premier Baird launching the Hatzistergos review SMH 27/6/1).

Nothing extraordinary has happened. Numbers of legal experts have noted that it would have been possible for the persons generating the controversy to have been released under the old bail laws.

The trend data for any sensible review is not available and not much will be by the end of July when Mr Hatzistergos has to provide an interim report.

On the broader scale this is another depressing manifestation of the destructive dynamic of the law and order auction syndrome that bedevils state politics. 

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Privacy taking flight?

Source: Channel 7 News, 30/06/2014

All-seeing drones are taking to our skies and landing in our private lives creating the potential for privacy and security breaches. Stephen Blanks speaks to Channel 7 News

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The call to name and shame pedophiles

Source: A Current Affair, 23/06/2014

Petition for a public sex offenders register

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Social networking to be available to inmates

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, 22/06/2014

Prisoners are using a new social networking site to post potentially sensitive information, protest their innocence and even look for love on the outside.

Read the article here


Kings Cross venues to save patron's IDs

Source: ABC Radio (13/06/2014)

Pubs and clubs in Sydney's Kings Cross are extending efforts to deal with any trouble makers. From tonight, some of the area's most popular venues will scan the IDs of patrons.

Listen to the story here


Privacy concerns over Kings Cross ID scanners

The operation of ID scanners to collect and store the personal information of all patron's will begin this week at a number of 'high-risk' venues in Kings Cross. This data collection scheme raises concerns over privacy and security, such as the possibility for unauthorised access or the inappropriate usage of individuals' personal data. NSWCCL President Stephen Blanks has commented recently in the media on this issue, visit the links below for coverage.

ABC Radio - Kings Cross venues to save patrons' IDs

Article - Privacy concerns over Kings Cross ID scanners The content we linked to is no longer available



Privacy concerns over Kings Cross scanners

Source: The Australian (11/06/2014)

While the NSW government and police are praising the early success of measures to curb alcohol-related violence, civil libertarians fear it may have gone too far with the roll-out of data-storing identification scanners.

Read the article here


Mike Baird's repsonse to hate speech inquiry delayed

Source: Sydney Morning Herald (5/6/2014)

The state government has shied away from a long-planned crackdown on racist speech, prompting claims the dispute over changes to national anti-discrimination laws has stymied reform in NSW.

Read the article here


Racial vilification law - NSW Government defers response

The new Attorney General Brad Hazzard has disappointed many with his unexplained deferral of the NSW Government’s response to the important and –in the current context- highly significant report of the standing committee on law and justice into NSW racial vilification laws. This was given to the Government in December 2013 and its response has been awaited for some time.

The committee had been asked by the Government to inquire into whether Section 20D of the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act which created the offence of serious racial vilification was effective and if it established a realistic test, in line with community expectations, for the offence of racial vilification. It was also asked to advise on any improvements to Section 20D ‘having regard to the continued importance of freedom of speech”.

There was no radical shift proposed by the report. The committee unanimously made a number of modest recommendations for improvements mainly focussed on removing ‘procedural impediments’ to successful criminal prosecution for serious racial vilification. The absence of any successful criminal prosecutions under the Act had been cited by the then Premier Barrie O’Farrell as the main driver for the inquiry.

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Police powers - safeguards further weakened

Legislation amending police powers and responsibilities and related citizens' protections was introduced into the nsw parliament in late may through the  Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Amendment Bill 2014.  Many of the changes were about clarification of the law or improvements in operational efficiency for police with no negative impact on citizens' rights and protections. NSWCCL supported these.  However, some of the changes were less justifiable and had more worrying implications. 

Our most urgent concern was in relation to the weakening of the current  requirement that police must identify themselves when exercising their powers (eg arrest or move on) otherwise their exercise of the power is unlawful. The bill seeks to repeal the consequences provision.  Failure to identify oneself when making an arrest or exercising other law enforcement powers will not render the exercise of the power unlawful. This is a dangerous amendment as it removes what has been a powerful incentive for police to abide by this important safeguard and accountability requirement that they give their name and place of work when exercising their considerable powers over community members.

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