NSWCCL in the media

Bail conditions imposed on Sydney climate change activists a step too far

'Absurd' bail conditions prevent Extinction Rebellion protesters 'going near' other members

Civil liberties groups say bail conditions imposed on Sydney climate change activists are usually reserved for bikie gang members

Climate change protesters arrested for obstructing traffic have been given “absurd” bail conditions that ban them from “going near” or contacting members of 'Extinction Rebellion', which civil liberties groups say infringes on freedom of political communication. Some of those arrested were given a “wild” set of bail conditions that banned them from coming within 2km of the Sydney CBD or associating with Extinction Rebellion events.

“[You are] not to go near, or contact or try to go near or contact (except through a legal representative) any members of the group ‘Extinction Rebellion’,” the conditions say. “[You are] not to enter the Sydney City CBD or not go within 2km radius of the Sydney Town Hall.”

The president of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, Pauline Wright, labelled the conditions “patently unreasonable”, “absurd” and likely unlawful under the constitution. She said the ban was so broad and unclear it would affect thousands of people.

Where there is a legitimate political issue such as seeking action on climate change, protesters shouldn’t be seen to be forfeiting their democratic rights including freedom of association, freedom of movement and the implied right to freedom of political expression.”

- NSWCCL President, Pauline Wright.

Read the full article in The Guardian.

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Climate protesters slapped with 'absurd' bail conditions

Media Coverage: ABC Triple J - HACK

Dr Holly Champion, a young full-time piano teacher living in Sydney, had never been in trouble with the law.

But after she and other Extinction Rebellion (XR) protesters were arrested on Monday, she was slapped with the kind of bail conditions normally reserved for bikie gangs.

The conditions include staying out of the Sydney CBD and not contacting or "going near" other members of Extinction Rebellion — a loosely defined organisation that has no central membership list, induction ceremony, uniform, ID card or secret handshake.

Simply by attending court they'll be breaching their bail conditions, according to NSW Council for Civil Liberties president Pauline Wright.

"To prevent them from going into the Sydney CBD is a very harsh condition," she said."It will likely affect people's ability to go to work to go to university to go about their lawful business in the city."

She said this condition on its own was too onerous, but the condition of not associating with other members of XR was "absurd".

Read more HERE.

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NSWCCL speaks out as Upper House examines Right to Farm Bill

Media coverage: Yahoo News

A bill which could see NSW farm trespassers face the toughest penalties in the country is set for an upper house probe, with civil organisations fearful the draft laws will hinder the right to peaceful protest.

NSW Council of Civil Liberties President Pauline Wright said criminal laws should only be directed against those guilty of "substantial wrongdoing". Wright labelled the bill's trespass penalties overly harsh.

"This bill is designed to have a chilling effect on people's right to peaceful protest," Ms Wright said in a statement.

Read more HERE.

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Farm trespass bill criticised as protest crackdown

Media coverage: The Guardian

New law will punish unlawful entry on ‘enclosed lands’ with up to three years in jail and fines of $22,000.

Pauline Wright, the president of the NSW Civil Liberties Council, said the new law was unnecessary and the wording too broad.

Wright said that existing laws against trespass already dealt with the issue adequately. The government had earlier increased the penalty from $550 to $5,500 in 2016.

“I can’t see the purpose of these new laws,” she said. “The existing laws already criminalise the behaviour that is targeted by this. It seems to just be grandstanding on the part of the politicians.

“We of course don’t like the notion of anyone entering on private land and acting unlawfully, and that shouldn’t be condoned. And it’s not. The law already adequately deals with that. Imposing tougher penalties won’t do anything. All the research indicates this does not act as a deterrent.”

Read more HERE.

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NSW farm trespass bill a crackdown on the right to protest

A New South Wales farm trespass bill has been criticised by civil liberties organisations, environment groups and unions for turning into “a crackdown on people’s rights to protest”.

The Right to Farm Bill 2019, currently before the NSW parliament, can punish unlawful entry and disruption on “inclosed lands” with up to three years in jail, and increases the fine from $5,500 to $22,000.

Pauline Wright, the president of the NSW Civil Liberties Council, said the new law was unnecessary and the wording too broad.

“These laws, although they are expressed to be talking about people coming onto farmlands and disturbing farmers going about their business, in fact they apply to any lands that are by definition enclosed … It is a crackdown on people’s rights to protest.”

Wright said that existing laws against trespass already dealt with the issue adequately. The government had earlier increased the penalty from $550 to $5,500 in 2016.

“I can’t see the purpose of these new laws,” she said. “The existing laws already criminalise the behaviour that is targeted by this. It seems to just be grandstanding on the part of the politicians.

“We of course don’t like the notion of anyone entering on private land and acting unlawfully, and that shouldn’t be condoned. And it’s not. The law already adequately deals with that. Imposing tougher penalties won’t do anything. All the research indicates this does not act as a deterrent.”

Read The Guardian article - NSW farm trespass bill criticised for turning into a crackdown on the right to protest

 

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New police device a welcome alternative

The US-designed BolaWrap 100 restraint is being considered as a painless alternative in some situations to the Taser stun gun. The restraint has been demonstrated to police in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, and Tasmania as well as to officers from the Australian Federal Police.

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties has told nine.com.au the device was a welcome alternative to being shot by a police gun or a Taser.

"The BolaWrap 100 is certainly a welcome alternative to the service revolver and the Taser. It is clearly preferable to Tasers in the sense that it does not inflict continuous pain on the apprehended person," Eugene Schofield-Georgesen, NSWCCL's vice-president, said.

But he stressed the device should only be used "as a tool of last resort" in accordance with police guidelines.

"However, it is a weapon and all weapons contain the potential for harmful misuse and abuse when provided to civil authorities."

 

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NSWCCL supports school student strike

 

The New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties applauds school students in Sydney and across the country for walking out of schools in support of climate action.

Climate change is an important issue which will have the deepest effect on the most vulnerable people within society moving into the future.

NSWCCL Vice President, Josh Pallas, said “It is so encouraging for us to see young people mobilised around such an important issue. They are showing bravery in exercising their political rights on an issue that stands to have the greatest impact on their lives. The Prime Minister, our government, and school principals should be encouraged to see that our students are active civic citizens”.

The students have come under sustained criticism from the government for walking out of schools. Some have reported that their principals are threatening reprisals if they attend and wear their school uniforms. NSWCCL condemns any criticism of these students for exercising their democratic rights to freedom of assembly and speech.

NSWCCL President, Pauline Wright said “The Council stands in solidarity with students today. No one should stand in the way of them exercising their rights.”

NSWCCL would like any school students who face reprisals to get in contact with them.

 

Media release

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Cycling is good for you so give bike sharing a chance

The heavy-handed ­response of the constabulary ­towards a collection of cyclists ­intending to pedal around Centennial Park with their hair in the wind last Sunday as a peaceful protest calling for reform to mandatory helmet laws marked another low point in the fraught relationship in Sydney between cyclists, drivers and the long arm of the law. Similar rides in other cities across Australia and New Zealand passed without incident. But in Sydney, police dispatched seven police cars to intercept and stop the planned “helmet optional” ride around the park’s Grand Drive cycle lane, threatening participants with $330 fines (among the highest anywhere in the world).

As the NSW Council for Civil Liberties pointed out, this action by police appeared grossly disproportionate to any conceivable safety concerns, a waste of public resources and fails to respect the fundamental right to peaceful protest in a democratic society.

 

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Number of ministers able to approve terrorism control orders doubles

In Dutton’s Home Affairs, even the assistant minister can order terrorism control orders

The New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties opposes control orders but its president, Stephen Blanks, said if the state is to have such a power to detain people it “should be in the hands of the senior law officer, the attorney general”.

“It is unsatisfactory for the power to approve this order to be in hands of junior ministers or even senior minister like Peter Dutton, who is not a lawyer,” he said.

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A Bill of Rights Would Protect All Freedoms, Not Just Religious Ones

The NSWCCL is calling for a constitutionally entrenched charter of rights and freedoms. One right shouldn’t be singled out above all others.

“They need to be protected as a whole, because they do compete against each other on occasions.”

A bill of rights would provide a mechanism that would serve to balance these competing rights.

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