NSWCCL in the media

Sydney Criminal Lawyers: Prime Time for a Federal Bill of Rights

Sydney Criminal Lawyers talked to our President Pauline Wright about the increase in draconian legislation since 9/11, as well as during the pandemic, and the need for a Bill of Rights.

"Australia has no bill of rights, and that has allowed the Australian government to bring in legislation that it would not have been able to have enacted in other nations, like the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada, where they have bills of rights or human rights acts," said Pauline.

Read more

SMH: Victoria’s supposedly autocratic pandemic laws would be better than NSW’s

Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald about the ugly debate in Victoria, our Vice President Josh Pallas argues that the proposed legislation would be an improvement on the laws already in place both there and here in NSW.

"Which is the great pity of the breakdown in the debate in Victoria. Of itself, that debate about the way Victorians should be governed through the pandemic is a win for democracy. It wouldn’t happen in autocratic states. It presented an opportunity for parliamentarians, citizens and stakeholders to reconsider very powerful legislation when the issues were fresh in everyone’s mind."

Read the full article: Victoria’s supposedly autocratic pandemic laws would be better than NSW’s


ABC Breakfast: Privacy concerns over face recognition AI real, says expert

The Office of the Information Commissioner has ordered US company Clearview to stop collecting photos taken in Australia and remove those in its collection as they were ruled to have breached privacy rules. The company had offered a free trial to police to access its database of millions of photos - assembled by scraping facebook and other publicly available websites without consent from anyone.

The company suggests the data is governed by US, rather than Australian law, as it is stored in the US.

Wendy Harmer and Robbie Buck spoke to NSWCCL Treasurer Stephen Blanks, who said:

"This is really a move towards a surveillance state. the idea that just because you've done nothing wrong you've got nothing to worry about is just a false view. The risks are real."

"There is a  real problem if it can escape the laws of any particular country by forum shopping."

"Innocent people will be subject to unfair investigations as a result of being misidentified by these databases."

Fingerprints, iris, palm and voice recognition are all more accurate than facial recognition; people who are female, black and aged 18-30 are 34% more likely to be subject to misidentification than fair skinned males. 

Stephen calls for a moratorium on the technology, commenting that it is "racing ahead of regulation" with government agencies like police forces are entering into agreements with companies such as Clearview without understanding the ethical issues. 

Listen to the full interview: Privacy concerns over face recognition AI real, says expert


Green Left: Residents push for an end to rigged City of Sydney vote

The Green Left reports that an election to be held on the 4th of December in the City of Sydney electorate will fail the definition of democracy, the second such election since a new law was introduced in 2014.

'This controversial law allows businesses in the City of Sydney two votes, by allowing the business to appoint two people from outside the local area to vote on its behalf. The NSW Council for Civil Liberties described this as “profoundly undemocratic”.'

Read the full article: Residents push for an end to rigged City of Sydney vote


The Guardian: Aboriginal groups call on NSW government to end cultural fishing prosecutions

The Guardian reports that a coalition of legal, social justice and Aboriginal groups (including NSWCCL) says the New South Wales government should cease prosecuting Aboriginal people for exercising their cultural fishing rights.

'The NSW Council for Civil Liberties president, Pauline Wright, said the government’s attitude was indicative of “systematic racism”. “If the aim was truly to protect the marine environment, they wouldn’t be allowing commercial fishing to expand at the same time as prosecuting Aboriginal fishers,” she said.'


Mondaq: Calls on Police Minister to curb officers flaunting insignia linked to white supremacy

Sydney Criminal Lawyers writer Paul Gregoire comments that reports of police officers wearing symbols associated with white supremacy or being captured on camera making symbols conveying the same racist message, have been increasing throughout a number of Australian jurisdictions over the past couple of years.

He examines recent incidents across Australian jurisdictions and covers our recent letter to the Police Minister on this topic (we are still waiting for a response).

Read the full article: Calls on Police Minister to curb officers flaunting insignia linked to white supremacy




Mondaq: COVID-19 restrictions and the Civil Liberties - Human Rights quagmire

Writing for Mondaq, Paul Gregoire notes one positive outcome of the pandemic is that it's brought human rights and civil liberties to the fore.

"For some in the community, the fact that rights protections in this country are fairly weak might come as a surprise. For others – such as First Nations peoples, refugees and asylum seekers – this was well understood long before COVID-19 ever disembarked at an Australian airport."

"Civil liberties advocates have been warning of a general erosion of rights that's been occurring due to the passing of numerous national security bills over the past two decades, with the last such piece of legislation – the Identify and Disrupt Bill – being passed during the extended NSW lockdown."

The article notes NSWCCL's clear support for those who do not wish to get a vaccine, balanced by its recognition that a requirement to demonstrate vaccine status to, for example, cross a border is not unreasonable in the circumstances.

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Hack: vaccine passports

Our President Pauline Wright was a guest on today's Hack for an interesting discussion about vaccine passports: how will they work? What about our privacy and rights?

Listen here


City News: More secrets being hidden in national cabinet

Political columnist Michael Moore examines planned legislation to ensure definitions of cabinet includes the national cabinet, and therefore keep its deliberations secret. 

"While a small number of protestors are using the streets and violence to make a point about their right to freedom from vaccination, much more important civil liberties are being eroded. Should this legislation be successful, the reasons behind decisions taken in the “national cabinet” will remain secret for 30 years."

He quotes CCL: 

“This cannot be seen as anything other than a blatant and cynical attempt to avoid transparency by including within the definition of cabinet something that cannot properly be called a cabinet at all.” (Read our full piece The 'National Cabinet' should not be above scrutiny)

Read the full article: More secrets being hidden in national cabinet


Nikkei-Asia: Australia border relief brings unease over 'Orwellian' quarantines

Eric Meijer reports that Australia's spreading pilot programs to let travelers quarantine in the privacy of their own homes are drawing criticism from some quarters for invading that privacy.

"Across Asia and elsewhere, countries have deployed various technologies to help fight COVID-19, from contact tracing apps to QR-code check-ins for entering establishments. But some see Australian authorities' use of facial recognition and geolocation to enforce home quarantines as a step down a slippery slope, even as efforts to reopen borders come as a relief."

The article quotes NSWCCL's Secretary Michelle Falstein:

"We would be concerned greatly at how facial recognition information is shared amongst other government departments, how it's stored, how easily it's hacked, a number of issues about how the information is dealt with and how it's also used for other purposes. So those sorts of things are really not covered off under legislation in this country at the moment."

Read the full article: Australia border relief brings unease over 'Orwellian' quarantines