NSWCCL in the media

COVID-19 'vaccine passport

The ABC considers how the proposed carrot-and-stick approach of vaccine passports might work, for example with the fully vaccinated exempt from state border closures or lockdowns; business given the all clear to remain open during lockdowns, but only for the fully vaccinated; or travel bans to apply only to the unvaccinated.

It moves on to consider whether this kind of conditional restriction would be legal.

NSWCCL President Pauline Wright told the ABC that Australia's powerful health and biosecurity laws gave governments the right to do this sort of thing. "At both state level and federal level, it is legal for the government to impose restrictions on people in times of health emergency," she said.

Read the full article: The COVID-19 'vaccine passport' is coming. Here's how it could work and how it's legal ABC 5 Aug '21


Sydney police need to be more aware of Legal Observers, says NSWCCL

Lawyers Weekly covered our letter to the NSW Police Commissioner over the way volunteer Legal Observers are being treated at protests across the city, saying:

'In a letter addressed to Commissioner Michael Fuller APM, president of NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) Pauline Wright raised concerns over the treatment of volunteer Legal Observers by police at a number of protests in Sydney during recent months.'

Read the full article: Sydney police need to be more aware of Legal Observers, says NSWCCL Lawyers Weekly 5 August 2021


Vaccines: employers have a right to keep everyone safe

Speaking to the Australian, NSWCCL President Pauline Wright backed vaccine mandates in high-risk workplaces and jab passports to access stadiums and nightclubs, saying life itself is a fundamental right. 

"It's within the rights of employers to say to employees I need to keep everyone safe. The right to life, the right to be free of disease, is pretty fundamental," she said.

Full article: (subscription required) Life more of a right than jab refusal The Australian  4 Aug '21


'Australia: police doing the political dirty work'

A Swiss perspective on the friendlyjordies arrest:

"In Australia, politicians use anti-terror law to muzzle critics: an Australian comedian is currently experiencing first-hand how the anti-terror law can also be used."

NSWCCL Treasurer Stephen Blanks tells SRF that "we have a legal system which is weak on protecting legal rights and particularly weak on protecting free speech".

More information:



Policy wonks unite!

In its editorial, the Byron Shire Echo noted both our calls to protect contact tracing data and our coverage of the constitutionality of the lockdown.

More: Editorial - let's all acquiesce


Calls for police to show restraint after Sydney COVID-19 protest

In its coverage of the weekend's violent protests The ABC quoted NSWCCL President Pauline Wright, who condemned the weekend's violent anti-lockdown march in Sydney but says people do have the right to protest.

"Rights though are not absolute and people should protest peacefully and at the same time we would call on New South Wales Police to exercise restraint," she said.

More information: Calls for police to show restraint after Sydney COVID-19 protest


Australia needs to protect both civil liberties and national security

Writing in the Strategist, NSWCCL Vice President Lydia Shelly and John Coyne argue that Australians have seen their civil liberties and their community cohesion increasingly securitised and viewed as secondary to the need to prevent violence post 9/11.

"Despite our efforts to promote unity and to deny the world’s divisive cultural, political and ideological conflicts fertile ground to spawn hatred in Australia, old and new divisions remain deeply rooted in our multicultural society. Dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic threatens to further fracture and fragment our understanding of civil liberties and national security and how to protect them both."

For more: read the full article - Australia needs to protect both civil liberties and national security


The Delta strain is not the only thing spreading in south-west Sydney. So is racial bias

The Guardian: The disproportionate policing of lower socio-economic areas that historically have a strained relationship with police is not the answer to a health crisis, NSWCCL Vice President Lydia Shelly.

For more: read the full article in the Guardian



Should schools know about students' criminal records?

Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, Natassia Chrysanthos and Jordan Baker examine calls from the father of a rape victim for a confidential database, which would record details of students charged with rape, sexual harassment or intimidation, so principals could be notified if they needed to keep an eye on particular students.  

The story quotes former NSW Council for Civil Liberties president Nicholas Cowdery, who said the non-publication principles that guided police and the Children’s Court also applied to the school system.

“The department and schools would have no way of getting that information unless it were volunteered,” he said.

Mr Cowdery said a balance was required. “Whenever that applies there will be differing views about where the balance should be struck. The law leans heavily towards the privacy of children and their welfare [and] therapy,” he said.

“The question arises at a practical level: if the department or schools had such information, what would they do with it? My view is that if such offenders have been dealt with it should be left to the police and courts to put in place the best regimes for dealing with future risk.”

More information - read the full story: Up to 5000 NSW students are convicted of a crime every year. The schools are never told


Operation Ironside shows Australia is an outlier on human rights

The ABC's Ursula Malone examines why nobody in America was arrested as part of Operation Ironside - a global sting known as "Trojan Horse" that brought down hundreds of alleged Australian criminals.

'The FBI — with help from Australia and an unnamed third country — was spying on millions of messages in over 90 countries as part of the operation. The AFP made more than 500 arrests but US privacy laws stopped the same from happening there.'

NSW President Pauline Wright commented that the US had 'pretty strict protections around human rights and privacy' which Australia did not have.

'It illustrates that Australia is an outlier in terms of protections for human rights and civil liberties,' she said. 'It's good that we're able to disrupt organised crime but in doing so what we are really concerned about is that innocent parties' data could be obtained, stored and used in ways that they would never have foreseen.'

For more, read the full article: Why no-one in America was arrested as part of Operation Ironside