Speeches

The pursuit of assange - politically motivated and unjust

NSWCCL recently joined other organisations and individuals in reaffirming our support for Julian Assange in the context of his fight against extradition to the USA. We spoke at the Assange rally in Sydney in February and subsequently sent a public letter to the Prime Minister urging the Australian Government to take effective action to support Assange in his fight against extradition and assist his return to Australia.

Assange’s situation is desperate and dangerous. His mental and physical health have been seriously compromised. He is imprisoned in a London gaol with limited capacity to communicate with his legal team. If he is extradited to the USA, he will face charges which will expose him to a likely outcome of life imprisonment in a high security gaol.

The relentless pursuit of Julian Assange over the last decade has been politically motivated, cruel and unjustifiable.  In our view he has not engaged in criminal activity. Assange and wikileaks published truthful information about shocking and wrongful activities - including war crimes - which had been kept secret. 

The public had an unquestionable right to know about these actions done in their name. Their publication constituted public interest journalism for which NSWCCL will continue to defend Assange.   

Wider implications

The implications of this pursuit of Assange go well beyond his personal fate. The determination of the USA to capture and severely punish Assange is a politically motivated enterprise aimed not only at him, but at warning off future whistle-blowers and journalists who might contemplate exposing secret US Government information in the public interest.

The calculated decision to charge Assange under the US Espionage Act 1917 is particularly disturbing.  If Assange is successfully prosecuted for these offences, it will have global implications for journalists and the free press and will challenge the strength of protection provided to journalists by the First Amendment’s prohibition of any US law ‘abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press’.

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Anti-protest bill update - community outrage grows

The outrageous Inclosed Lands, Crimes and Law Enforcement Legislation Amendment (Interference) Bill 2016– better know as the ‘anti-protest’ bill-  will be further debated in the NSW Legislative Council today.

This bill is a deliberate Government attack on the right to public assembly and public protest in NSW and proposes unwarranted and dangerous expansions of discretionary police powers.

This Bill is part of a systematic determination by the NSW Government to constrain effective opposition by the community to reckless  CSG and other mining activities.  

The Bill blatantly privileges the CSG  and mining  interests over the right of the community to protect the public good  - in this case protection of water, agriculture and the environment - through public assembly and peaceful protest.

On Tuesday NSWCCL joined many other groups and 1000 protestors outside Parliament house to vociferously oppose this Bill. The Greens, the ALP and Fred Nile spoke against the Bill. The Law Society and the NSW Bar Council sent letters to the Government  opposing the Bill.  A current survey provides definitive evidence of community opposition to this Bill.

Nonetheless it appears likely that the Bill will today become law with the Shooters and Fishers Party supporting its passage.

Without the numbers to block the Bill in the Legislative Council the ALP and the Greens have proposed amendments which would remove the most obnoxious elements of the Bill.

If the Government is  responsive to community rather than CSG and mining views, they should seize the opportunity provided by these amendments to retreat from this unwarranted and unwise legislation.

Dr Lesley Lynch

 

Read more about this bill on our website:

Anti-protest laws: what are they and who hates them?

Government and conservative parties force through outrageous anti-protest law


NSWCCL defends free speech and right of dissent on USyd campus

Speech delivered by NSWCCL President Stephen Blanks to Staff and Student Meeting - Defend USYD Civil Liberties at the University of Sydney on Wednesday 29 April 2015.

I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet and pay my respects to elders past and present.

It is pleasing to see concern about civil liberties as a central issue at the University of Sydney. The NSW Council for Civil Liberties has had strong links with the University since our foundation in 1963.

NSWCCL is joining this meeting today because we are concerned that the University reacting in a disturbingly disproportionate way to the incidents which occurred at the Colonel Richard Kemp lecture on 11 March 2015. 

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50th Anniversary - other speeches

Also at our 50th Anniversary dinner:

Cameron Murphy, CCL life member and former President, introduces the Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG

 

The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG addresses the 50th Anniversary Dinner via video

 

CCL Secretary Lesley Lynch responds to Carolyn Simpson


50th Anniversary - Stephen Blanks

Stephen Blanks - new CCL President honours the founders and introduces the Hon Justice Carolyn Simpson.

A transcript of the speech is also below:


50th Anniversary - The Hon Justice Carolyn Simpson

At CCL's 50th Anniversary dinner keynote speaker the Hon Justice Simpson delivered a fascinating trawl through NSWCCL's history - stirring memories and offering insights.

 

A transcript of the speech is also below:


30th Anniversary

The Hon Michael Kirby reflected on our 30th Anniversary in his speech, 'CCL 30 years on - we are all civil libertarians now'.


Annual John Marsden Memorial Lecture 2012

The times they are a-changing: where to for the criminal law in NSW? Nicholas Cowdery - AM QC BA LLB FAAL spoke at the John Marsden Memorial Lecture.

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