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NSWCCL launches national fightback to roll back extraordinary ASIO powers

"The greatest assault on civil liberties in Australia since World War II." Professor George Williams AO tonight launched a national campaign led by the NSW Council for Civil Liberties to wind back the excessive and disproportionate powers given to ASIO in the decade since 9/11.

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Submission: Review of Australia's Counter-Terrorism Legislation 2012

NSWCCL has made a submission to the COAG Review of Australia's Counter-Terrorism Legislation 2012

Although terrorism has been a problem for hundreds of years, the Twin Tours attack in New York and the London and Bali bombings led to the passage of a great deal of legislation which might have been justified if the problem, like a war, could be expe cted to be concluded in a few years. However, it is plain—indeed, it was always plain— that terrorism is not going away. It is time to consider which of the laws we have passed should be kept, which modified, and which should be repealed.

An argument is also made for the need for an Australian Bill of Rights. Without a Bill of Rights, the courts in Australia are unable to protect people from laws that violate fundamental principles of international human rights law; that expose Australians and aliens to risks to their liberties.

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Submission: The Partial Defence of Provocation

NSWCCL has made a submission to the Select Committee on the Partial Defence of Provocation.

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties reiterates its opposition to any significant changes to the existing partial defence in the absence of a compelling case to the contrary.

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Submission: to Wollongong City Council concerning the draft CCTV Program - Code of Practice (the draft Code)

NSWCCL has made a submission to the Wollongong City Council concerning the draft CCTV Program - Code of Practice (the draft Code)

NSWCCL expresses concerns that the draft code introduces "unjustified invasions of privacy". We commend the Council on its proposal for a proposed CCTV Camera Program Evaluation Committee for further review of the draft code.

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Submission: Inquiry into the right to silence of an accused person

NSWCCL has made a submission to the Criminal Law Review at the Department of Attorney General and Justice regarding the Inquiry into the right to silence of an accused person

The proposed bill will abolish the right of an accused person to decline to answer questions by police without any adverse inferences being drawn in a subsequent trial by the prosecution or the court. To propose that silence implies guilt or prevarications is irrational and contrary to the fundamental principle of the presumption of innocence.

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Submission: Inquiry into Cybercrime Legislation Amendment Bill 2011

NSWCCL has made a Submission to the Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety regarding the Inquiry into Cybercrime Legislation Amendment Bill 2011

The submission raises a number of concerns, particularly the sharing of Australian information with foreign law enforcement agencies who may support torture/death penalty or may otherwise not employ appropriate protection and security measures concerning the highly sensitive and private nature of prospective data.

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Submission: Inquiry into potential reforms of the National Security Legislation

NSWCCL has made a submission to the Joint Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) regarding the Inquiry into potential reforms of the National Security Legislation.

NSWCCL accepts the argument that there is a need to update and rework the relevant legislation in light of technological advances and successive amendments. However, neither of these drivers, in themselves, provides justification for an extension of powers or reduction in accountability for intelligence and law enforcement agencies, nor for the further erosion of individual privacy, civil liberties and democratic values.

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Submission: Statutory review of the Graffiti Control Act 2008 (NSW)

NSWCCL has made a submission to the Acting Director General at the Department of Attorney General and Justice regarding the statutory review of the Graffiti Control Act 2008 (NSW).

The submission questions the impact of harsh penalties such as imprisonment for a relatively minor offence, particularly on predominantly young perpetrators. It also addresses the Act's allowal of the removal 'graffiti' from private property provided that it is visible from a public place - this is an intrusion upon the owners right to property, owners should be free to paint their property or have it painted as desired without third party interference based on a subjective evaluation of the artwork/decoration.

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Submission: Provision of alcohol to minors legislation

NSWCCL has made a Submission to the Provision of alcohol to minors legislation.

The submission argues that the proposed amendments extend unnecessarily beyond merely ensuring adequate supervision of liquor supply, and may unreasonably criminalise benign activities such as religious rituals involving supply of liquor to minors.

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Submission: Review of Part Eight of the Crimes (Appeal and Review) Act 2001

NSWCCL has made a submission to the review of Part Eight of the Crimes (Appeal and Review) Act 2001

The legislation as presently embodied in Part 8 Crimes (Repeal and Review) Act 2001 (the Act) is contrary to the common law as it has developed over generations of cases here, in England and other common law countries. It is also in contravention of Article 14(7) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Australia has signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (‘the ICCPR’) and has made no reservations concerning double jeopardy or retrospectivity. Australia is therefore obliged ‘to respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory...the rights recognised’ in the ICCPR, including the prohibitions against double jeopardy and retrospectivity.

NSWCCL proposes that the legislation be repealed.

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Submission: Inquiry on the Aviation Transport Security Amendment (Screening) Bill 2012 [Provisions]

NSWCCL has made a submission to the inquiry on the Aviation Transport Security Amendment (Screening) Bill 2012 [Provisions].

CCL participated in the various consultations relating to body scanning over several years. We welcomed the significant moves that were taken to address some of the most intrusive aspects of the earlier proposals. Most significantly this included the move away from capturing raw body images to generic male and female ‘stick figure’ images and the prohibition of any storage of images or data about from the surveillance process.

Unfortunately, the proposed amendments do not deliver on all the protections for health and privacy which we understood would be Government policy.

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Submission: Inquiry into law reform issues regarding synthetic drugs

The submission discusses the proven inefficacy of drug prohibition. It also highlights the inability for persons without a chemistry background to reasonably interpret the legality of over 200 banned substances as outlined in Schedule 1 of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 (NSW), making it extremely complicated for most people to understand what they are allowed to buy, possess or sell.

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Submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Committee concerning the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2010 - April 2012

NSWCCL has made a submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Committee concerning the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2010

The submission argues that it is the best interests of society to allow the marriage of same sex couples, and that the current situation causes harm by perpetuating existing prejudices. It is also fundamentally unjust to provide the many benefits of marriage to heterosexual couples, while denying them to same sex couples without any reasonable cause.

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Submission: Inquiry on Education Amendment (Ethics) Act 2010

NSWCCL considers the introduction of secular Ethics Classes as an alternative to Special Religious Education (SRE) classes in 2010 to have been an important reform, going some way towards providing parents and children in public schools with long denied, secular options to faith based SRE classes. We are therefore, strongly opposed to the Education Amendment (Ethics Classes Repeal) Bill 2011. It aims to reverse this reform and reinstate the discriminatory denial of any alternative educational activity for children choosing not to attend faith based SRE classes: a truly anomalous denial of rights in public schools which are otherwise required by legislation to provide ‘strictly non-sectarian and secular instruction.

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Submission: Migration Amendment (Removal of Mandatory Minimum Penalties) Bill 2012

NSWCCL supports the passage of the Migration Amendment (Removal of Mandatory Minimum Penalties) Bill 2012. In removing mandatory minimum sentencing provisions in relation to certain people smuggling offences, the Bill redresses a situation which has been incompatible with long held principles of justice which are the foundation of our system of jurisprudence.

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An Open Letter to the Attorney General regarding adverse ASIO Security Assessments - January 2012

NSWCCL and Liberty Victoria have written an Open Letter to the Attorney General regarding adverse ASIO Security Assessments.

There are currently over 50 people in immigration detention in Australia who have been found to be refugees but have received adverse security assessments from the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).

Refugees who are adversely assessed by ASIO are not allowed to know the evidence or the reasoning which underpin the assessment. They have no right to know of or respond to any evidence or allegations taken into account against them

It is fundamental to our democratic system that a person should not face indefinite detention without being allowed to know why, and without the ability to challenge the factual basis and discretionary considerations which are said to support it.

Read the full letter here

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Submission on issues paper: A Commonwealth Statutory Cause of Action for Serious Invasion of Privacy (Issues Paper) - November 2011

NSWCCL has made a Submission on issues paper: A Commonwealth Statutory Cause of Action for Serious Invasion of Privacy (Issues Paper)

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (CCL) applauds the Government’s reactivation of the discussion on the obvious and pressing need for more effective protections for personal privacy in Australia.

The current Issues Paper is sensibly drawn from the findings of the three LRC reviews and largely directs our attention to the matters of detail that need to be resolved to allow legislation to be drafted and enacted. CCL agrees that this is the appropriate focus for what is hopefully the last round in the discussion of this important matter prior to Government action to bring forward appropriate legislation.

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Submission: A Commonwealth Statutory Cause of Action for Serious Invasion of Privacy (Issues Paper)

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (CCL) applauds the Government’s reactivation of the discussion on the obvious and pressing need for more effective protections for personal privacy in Australia. The current Issues Paper is sensibly drawn from the findings of the three LRC reviews and largely directs our attention to the matters of detail that need to be resolved to allow legislation to be drafted and enacted.

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Submission: Inquiry into the Deterring People Smuggling Bill 2011

NSWCCL has made a submission in relation to the Inquiry into the Deterring People Smuggling Bill 2011.

We object to the attempt made in the bill to retroactively criminalise the behaviour of so- called people smugglers. People are entitled to certainty about what the law requires of them; but retrospective laws are arbitrary, and deny them that certainty. Imposing criminal sanctions on people for doing what was legal when they did it is necessarily unjust.

There also appears to be a discrepancy between the perception of assisting refugees to arrive by boat (of which safety is a concern), compared to by air (often considered ok).

Refugees are often fleeing persecution or undesirable circumstances and are subsequently highly motivated to 'move on'. Those who assist them should not be demonised on that account.

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Submission: Australian Law Reform Commission Discussion Paper, released as part of its inquiry into the national classification scheme

The purposes of classification have been to determine under what circumstances material may be read, seen or heard, and to give advice as to who should be allowed to experience it. Where classification is refused, the effect is censorship.

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