NSWCCL made a submission to the Review of the Privacy Act 1988 advocating for urgent reform to modernise the Act and ensure it is fit for purpose in the digital economy. Privacy is a fundamental human right that is central to the maintenance of democratic societies and achieving respect for human dignity. In this regard, the NSWCCL submits that the right to privacy should be the paramount object of the Act and considers the two primary areas of concern in debates relating to privacy are:
- (a) the intrusive observation of one’s actions (whether by surveillance, listening, data analysis or other mode); and
- (b) the discussion and the misuse of personal information.
NSWCCL supports in-principle many of the proposals outlined in the Discussion Paper and commends the Attorney General’s Department for reflecting the legitimate privacy concerns of a broad spectrum of society. Many Australians are concerned about gaps and ambiguities in the existing privacy regime that undermine the right to privacy. This is especially important in the context of unprecedented integration of digital technology in our everyday lives.
Submission to Legal & Constitutional Affairs Committee re Migration Amendment (Strengthening the Character Test) Bill 2021
NSWCCL made a submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs Inquiry into the Migration Amendment (Strengthening the Character Test) Bill 2021 [Provisions].
This is the third time that such a bill has been presented to Parliament. We made an extensive submission to the 2019 version of this bill, and those criticisms stand.
Australia has moved from deporting people who clearly are a danger and high risk, such as unrehabilitated murderers, to deporting people because a minister cannot be sure that they are not a danger to the community.
In fact, it we now accept deporting people to their likely death:
'counsel for the Minister suggested that much had changed since Ali and that the Minister was now more than prepared to proceed on the basis that Australia would breach its non-refoulement obligations and return the appellant to Iraq, even though it had been accepted that he was likely to be harmed or killed there'1
Criticisms made by the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Australian Law Council, The Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, the Scrutiny of Bills Committee and the Visa Cancellations Working Group also still apply.
We are disappointed that the Bill has been reintroduced without those criticisms being answered.Read more
The ABC reports that AI including facial recognition will soon be used in South Korea in a trial to track COVID positive residents. This effort will involve linking an AI facial recognition program to the CCTV surveillance system. According to the South Korean government this is an effort to ease the workload on contact tracing, but this move is worrying from a civil libertarian perspective. Our secretary Michelle Falstein, and Professor Toby Walsh - an AI expert from UNSW - spoke to ABC reporter Rhett Burnie on the issueRead more
It is extremely concerning that the Government has chosen - in the wake of the powerful arguments made in the Committee report on the overreach of exemptions to disallowance - to double down on the notion that the Executive should have untrammelled powers to rule by decree without parliamentary oversight.Read more
NSWCCL recently wrote to the Attorney General to comment on the exposure draft of the Privacy Legislation Amendment (Enhancing Online Privacy and Other Measures) Bill 2021 (Online Privacy Bill).Read more
Perth Now has reported on the National Press Club of Australia's event at which our President Pauline Wright spoke, commenting that "integrity campaigners have renewed calls for a federal anti-corruption commission, as the government stalls on introducing legislation for the body's creation".Read more
NSWCCL strongly objects to the LNP's outrageous attempt to rush the religious discrimination bills through the lower house today.
The bills have been referred to an Inquiry, which will report before the next sitting of parliament.Read more
Joint Media Release: NSW Government must recognise Aboriginal cultural fishing in line with parliamentary support
A coalition of concerned leaders and organisations has called on the NSW Government to take urgent action to prevent any more Aboriginal fishers being incarcerated or fined for exercising their Native Title rights.
Following revelations that Aboriginal people make up 4 per cent of people living on the South Coast, but account for 80 per cent of jail terms for fisheries offences since 2009, the NSW Legislative Council passed a resolution last week.
Raised by Labor MLC Michael Veitch, the motion supported Aboriginal cultural fishing and called for a review of all fines and prosecutions.Read more
A transcript of NSWCCL President Pauline Wright's speech to the National Press Council on 1 December 2021.
As a civil liberties organisation, NSWCCL has in the past expressed serious reservations about anti-corruption agencies sitting outside the established justice system and wielding extraordinary coercive and covert powers. But we have cautiously shifted our position in response to the growing threat that increasingly complex forms of corruption pose to the public good in Australia. If the public interest is to be protected against the corrosive effects of serious lapses in integrity and systemic corruption, NSWCCL acknowledges that the establishment of anti-corruption agencies equipped with extraordinary investigative powers – albeit with proper constraints and safeguards – is both necessary and proportionate.
Corruption undermines the integrity of our political system. It distorts the policy-making process, diverts resources from public good objectives and undermines public trust in our politicians, governing institutions and public administration. Corruption harms everyone. It breeds inequality and injustice and undermines the ability of governments and people to fulfil their potential to achieve the common good, especially in challenging times.Read more
The Age examines the Andrews government’s controversial pandemic laws, with legal experts saying they would include the most rigorous safeguards against human rights abuses in the nation.
NSWCCL's Vice President Josh Pallas said that he did not believe any other jurisdiction applied the same level of scrutiny as Victoria.
Mr Pallas said the NSW Ombudsman did not have jurisdiction when it came to issuing public health orders. Nor did the NSW Parliament use a joint committee chaired by a non-government MP to oversee public health orders.
Read the full article: Pandemic laws contain most rigorous safeguards in nation, say experts
The Mandarin: ‘A gaping hole in Australia’s integrity’: case for getting federal anti-corruption agency right
The Mandarin covered our President Pauline Wright's National Press Club of Australia address, commenting that restoring faith in politicians and government agencies will require a Federal ICAC with powers akin to a royal commission.
It quoted from Ms Wright's speech:
"It undermines confidence in all levels of government and its agencies — they’re fundamental to the delivery of citizens’ expectations and aspirations, for Australia to be a fair, prosperous and ethical society,”
It also examined Pauline's view that the bar for an investigation to begin is too high, undermining the likelihood of evidence unveiling during the investigation process.Read more
Our President Pauline Wright spoke to the National Press Club of Australia in Canberra on the 1st of December 2021 arguing for a federal Independent Commission Against Corruption.Read more
Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, NSWCCL committee member and ex President Nicholas Cowdery QC argues that 'Nothing “done to” Berejiklian was a disgrace – she is a witness in the investigation and has been treated appropriately.' and 'The ICAC’s powers have not been abused'.
Read the full article: Morrison's rant against ICAC needs a good fact-check
Freedom of Information laws are crucial to ensuring the transparency and accountability of policy and government decision making by giving Australians access to the information they need to participate fully in democratic processes.
However, systemic deficiencies in the federal FOI regime, including the existence of broad exceptions under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) and persistent underfunding of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC), have eroded the effectiveness of the FOI regime, shielding politicians from public scrutiny and undermining public confidence in the integrity of government and public institutions.Read more
Update - a Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights Inquiry into the Bills has now been announced.
The third version
Last week the Government introduced the third version of its contentious Religious Discrimination Bill into Parliament. NSWCCL has always supported religious freedom and supports the protection of persons from discrimination on the basis of religious beliefs, but for the third time we are unable to support the Government’s Bill.
Despite some improvements (e.g. the removal of the Israel Folau provision) we remain strenuously opposed to core elements of the proposed legislation - which are in some cases worse than in the previous bills.
NSWCCL opposes the Government’s proposed changes to electoral legislation that would require registered voters to show ID prior to casting their vote at the polling booth on election day.Read more
Following a three year hiatus, the Meeting of Attorneys-General (MAG) has supported a proposal to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12. While the announcement was timely with Universal Children’s Day last Saturday it remains inadequate. MAG’s announcement can only be seen as an acknowledgement of the need to raise the age in order to properly respect the rights of children but does not explain the rationale for their slated proposal which will continue to see children incarcerated and punished contrary to their human rightsRead more
The ABC considered a 12-month jail sentence given to a 22-year-old climate activist over anti-coal protests in the NSW hunter region.
Our President Pauline Wright commented that the penalty seemed harsh:
"If the law means that people participating in peaceful protest end up in jail then that law is objectionable in a liberal democracy where we have a right to peacefully protest," she said.
"When people take actions that put themselves or others into danger then that is one thing, but imposing a criminal sanction on that kind of activity isn't necessarily the way to go."
Read the full article: Prison sentence for climate activist over Newcastle anti-coal protest divides community ABC News 24 Nov '21
ABC Breakfast with Scott Levi spoke to our President Pauline Wright about legislative changes in response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety's Final Report. He raised concerns over on immunity from litigation over restrictive practices (the subject of much evidence at the royal commission) given to aged care providers.Read more