The NSWCCL dinner in the Sky Phoenix Restaurant in the Pitt St Westfield Plaza was a grand celebration of our 50th anniversary. There was a splendid turnout of old and new members and friends of NSWCCL and of our key note speaker. We also had several tables of interested students and interns sponsored by member donations.
The formalities of the evening were, understandably, more focused on NSWCCL’s history than usual. Michael Kirby, a member since 1964 and now an honorary life member, spoke movingly via video of his personal experience as a young lawyer working with NSWCCL and, more broadly, of the beneficial impact on the legal profession in Australia from the large numbers of lawyers who had cut their teeth in civil liberties and then gone on to occupy high office on the bench or as solicitors and barrister within the profession. Michael also paid tribute to significant NSWCCL figures who had deeply influenced him over the years. His lifelong engagement with NSWCCL was encapsulated in his final observation that he had now spoken at the 30
th, 40th and 50th anniversary dinners.
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties held its AGM on Wednesday 23 October 2013, and a number of significant decisions were made:
- A new executive and committee were elected, following a very strong field of nominations, requiring a ballot in key positions.
- The Committee endorsed strong policies around current, critical civil liberties issues, including asylum seekers, global surveillance and whistleblowers. Click here to view background and policy details
- Life membership was conferred on our longest serviing President, Cameron Murphy.
A well attended Annual General Meeting elected new executive and committee; endorsed strong policies on global surveillance, whistle-blowers and asylum seekers and conferred honorary life membership on Cameron Murphy.Read more
NSWCCL has made a submission to the review into police oversight of critical incidents, being conducted by the Hon Robert McLelland.
The NSWCCL believes that the establishment of an independent body to oversee investigations into critical incidents involving police is paramount. The European Court of Human Rights has enunciated five key principles of effective investigation: independence, adequacy, promptness, sufficient public scrutiny and next-of-kin involvement. The NSWCCL believes that this Review should recommend the adoption of these principles in the final model.
The New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties has written to all NSW State MPs, urging them to heed to widespread concerns of civil society and reject the Crimes Amendment (Zoe's Law) Bill (No. 2) 2013.Read more
In this edition: Post election civil liberties musings - implications and thoughts; NSWCCL opposes Zoe's Law; NO! to warrantless surveillance; NSW Surveillance Devices Act Review; Web update; Work experience at NSWCCL; and Annual Dinner, AGM and committee nominations. Click through to view.Read more
NSWCCL has made a submission to the NSW Department of Attorney-General and Justice on the Statutory Review of the Surveillance Devices Act 2007.
"Given the high incidence of surveillance resulting in no ‘relevant information,’ the Council for Civil Liberties is of the view that the Attorney-General should recommend to Parliament that s.52 be amended. The Council recommends that the Act be amended so that issuing authorities can prospectively require a law enforcement agency to report to targets about the use of past surveillance where: (a) no information relevant to a prosecution is found; and (b) it is the second attempt against the same target that has resulted in no information useful to a prosecution being gathered (whether the warrant was issued in respect of the same or a different offence)."
NSWCCL has made a submission to Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on the inquiry into the Telecommunications Amendment (Get a Warrant) Bill 2013.
"It has never been more important that lawful surveillance and intrusions upon privacy, which a democratic nation determines to be necessary and proportionate for its security, are subject to strong independent oversight, accountability and maximum transparency.
The amendments proposed in this Bill, if enacted, will provide a significant strengthening of these protections."
- The NSWCCL strongly supports the purpose of the Bill as set out in the explanatory memorandum
- NSWCCL supports the proposed amendments to the TIA Act in the Bill
- NSWCCL supports a more comprehensive review and amendment of the TIA Act
The NSWCCL firmly opposes the Labor government’s PNG regional re-settlement agreement.Read more
In this edition: NSWCCL 50th Anniversary Dinner reminder; Web update; National ASIO Campaign: summary of the recent Politics in the Pub - ASIO's Absurd Powers; Asylum seekers: Australia's deepening shame; NSW Law Alert: 'Out of Control' events; Overview of our submission on the supply of alcohol to minors; Occupy Sydney: the right to protestRead more
The New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties is concerned by the apparent spread of Western Australian legislation aimed at organisers of "out of control" gatherings. The Queensland Government is currently drafting similar legislation that includes imprisonment and significant fines for organisers, including parents of children whose parties become uncontrollable.Read more
The NSWCCL opposes the Coalition's policy to widen the disenfranchisement of prisoners by banning those imprisoned for between 1 and 3 years from voting.Read more
In this edition: NSWCCL 50th Anniversary Dinner; Australia's asylum seeker policy morass: the excision of the Australian mainland; Update on the National ASIO Campaign; No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka documentary screening; The 'never-ending' growth of global surveillanceRead more
Submission: Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Bill 2013
NSWCCL has made a submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee concerning the Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Bill 2013.
"Both world-wide historically and in Australia in recent times there has been much discrimination and worse against LGBTI people.1 Unlike, say religious or political views, people cannot change such characteristics (and if they could, they should not be expected to). Though some protection is provided by State and Territory legislation, the provisions vary between these jurisdictions, and their coverage is restricted. The bill will contribute to an improvement in LGBTI persons' situation. We urge its speedy passage--as an important measure until a revised Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill is introduced."
A number of reports have been released recently that are key for the ongoing activities of the National ASIO Campaign.Read more
NSWCCL recently appeared before the New South Wales Legislative Council Standing Committee on Law and Justice to give evidence relating to the inquiry into racial vilification law in NSW.
A supplementary submission has been made in response to questions posed during the committee hearing, providing more detailed discussion than possible at the hearing.
NSWCCL has made a submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee concerning the Criminal Code Amendment (Misrepresentation of Age to a Minor) Bill 2013.
"the proposals in the bill have the potential to impact greatly on many Australians, young and old alike, who do not necessarily possess any criminal intent, without providing sufficient nexus to the more serious offences the bill aims to prevent."
NSWCCL has made a submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee concerning the impact of Federal Court Fee increases since 2010 on access to justice in Australia.
"The ability to access the courts is a civil right. It is essential that persons can access the courts to ensure that they are able to exercise their freedoms and liberties and enforce their rights and others’ obligations.
All persons must, as a matter of their civil rights, have the capacity to access the Federal Court regardless of their financial situation or other means. In addition, the fees associated with accessing the Federal Court must not act as a material detriment to their accessing the court if they judge that doing so is an appropriate course of action."
As reported by ABC news, members of NSWCCL recently appeared before the New South Wales Legislative Council Standing Committee on Law and Justice to give evidence relating to the inquiry into racial vilification law in NSW.
Secretary Stephen Blanks called for reform of the laws, stating that the bar for prosecutions has been set too high, as shown by the absence of any prosecutions.
NSWCCL believes that the sections under review have failed to legitimately criminalise serious racial vilification. Further, it is possible to reform the legislation to be more effective, whilst also maintaining the right to free speech.Read more