The NSW Ombudsman report on "Review of police use of the firearms prohibition order search powers" was released yesterday, leading some commentators to point out that the orders and redundant, unnecessary and improperly used.
Stephen Blanks talked with Robbie Buck on ABC 702 morning radio to explain some of the issues raised by the report.
Audio: Breakfast with Robbie Buck (interview at 1:20:00)
Source: ABC 702 Radio
Transcript: See Here
A parliamentary committee has endorsed new laws allowing convicted terrorists to be kept in jail once their sentences expire, provided a court rules they pose a threat to society.The strengthening of Australia's counter-terrorism laws was recommended by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull earlier this year after high-profile terror attacks in Orlando, Nice and Paris.
On Friday, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security recommended the laws be introduced along with 23 amendments.
Civil liberties groups expressed concern about the proposed laws earlier this year claiming they were a distraction and window-dressing.
"People who have been convicted of serious terrorism offences are in jail for many years to come, we're not being told who is about to be released that they're concerned about," New South Wales Council of Civil Liberties president Stephen Blanks said.
Source: ABC News
*PJCIS REPORT can be viewed online here* (Link no longer available)
Recent polls show a large amount of Australians are in favour of increasing powers for government security agencies to defend against terrorism, but how much are we willing to sacrifice for this added 'protection'?
Interview with NSWCCL President Stephen Blanks, ANU researcher Dr. Jill Sheppard, and Counter Terrorism expert from Deakin University, Greg Barton.
Source: Channel 7: Weekend Sunrise
The national spy agency, ASIO, wants the power to arrest and detain family members of terror suspects for up to seven days without a judicial warrant.
At the moment, a judge has to sign off on this type of arrest and detention and be present for questioning. ASIO says that, in future, the Attorney-General's go-ahead should be sufficient authority.
Stephen Blanks, president of NSWCCL, outlines the Council's views on this important issue with Peter Lloyd on ABC Radio National PM. See below for full transcript.
Source: ABC PM (Radio)
Political slogans scrawled on the side of ambulances have landed paramedics in court. The slogans criticise the Baird government's changes to death and disability insurance for paramedics.
Late on Tuesday afternoon, the Health Services union which represents ambulance officers was called before the NSW Industrial Relations Commission to explain the liquid chalk protest messages.
HSU Secretary Gerard Hayes appeared before the industrial commission to explain the "civil disobedience" and said that despite Health Minister Jillian Skinner saying she wants workers to speak out about problems in the health system, "yet when we make our voice heard, we have to explain it before the Industrial Relations Commission," Mr Hayes said.
He went on to say that he was "proud of the spirited, robust campaign being run by grass roots paramedics to make the public aware of the government's intention."
Many politicians and commentators including Green MP David Shoebridge and Stephen Blanks, president of the NSW Council of Civil Liberties, said: "It is not unreasonable to use chalk to mark property in a way that does not permanently damage the property in order to make a political communication.
"The freedom to make political communication is a constitutionally protected freedom."
Source: The Courier
In a series on the changes to the Opal Card systems, NSWCCL Stephen Blanks about the privacy (or lack thereof) on the data gathering in the Opal system.
Source: 2SER Breakfast Show
President of NSWCCL, Stephen Blanks, wrote an op-ed in the Sydney Morning Herald in defense of the NSWCCL position to oppose religion being added to the racial vilification criteria in upcoming laws.
Noting the important distinction of 'ethno-religious' groups and 'religion', for example the difference in being a Muslim and a Jedi, Mr. Blanks argues in favour of balance, whereby "Some beliefs which are claimed to be religious, and their adherents, ought to be open to ridicule, even severe ridicule" in the defense of free speech.
For the full article, see below.
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald
The Baird government's refusal to legislate against anti-Muslim hate speech is "playing into the hands" of terrorist groups such as Islamic State, as well as extreme right-wing groups, Muslim community leaders and counter-terrorism experts have warned.
The NSW government is formulating a long-awaited overhaul of racial vilification laws, promising to strengthen the legislation and streamline it to make prosecutions easier. Fairfax Media understands the government will not consider including religion in the Act, which outlaws inciting violence based on race, colour, descent or ethno-religious origin.
NSW Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton would not say why religion would be omitted. However a spokeswoman pointed to the government's 2013 review of the Act, which made no recommendation to include religion.
In that review, the NSW Council for Civil Liberties was among those who opposed the inclusion of religion. The council's president Stephen Blanks told Fairfax Media that religion was "not an inherent characteristic of a person like race is ... and one should be free to criticise religion".
NSWCCL stands by this statement and continues to oppose the inclusion of religion in racial vilification laws.
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald
NSWCCL President Stephen Blanks chats with hosts of 2UE News Talk Radio Jon Stanley and Garry Linnell about the privacy issues around the 2016 Census.
Source: 2UE 954 Radio.
Former police officers are to be issued with identity cards they can carry around in their wallet to acknowledge their service. New South Wales Police plans to hand out the first ID cards by the end of the year.
However, Stephen Blanks from the NSW Council for Civil Liberties described the plan as "extraordinary".
"The idea of issuing a card to former police officers is absolutely absurd. It is entirely predictable that it will be used by former police officers to get favours from shops and local businesses, who will feel intimidated into giving free goods and services because of a concern that putting a former police officer offside might cause them trouble."
He said such a card could also be used to fool people into thinking the holder still held a position of authority.