NSWCCL Submissions

Submission: Regulatory framework for cannabis in NSW

Cannabis is criminalised in New South Wales (NSW) with use, possession, cultivation and supply being the key offences. Cannabis has long been the most widely used illicit drug in Australia. In 2022–2023, 11.5% of people in Australia had used cannabis in the previous 12 months, around 2.5 million people. In comparison, the next most common illicit drugs (cocaine and ecstasy) were used by around 3% of Australians.

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Submission: AI technologies in Australia

The NSW Council of Civil Liberties submits that the proliferation Artificial Intelligence (AI) poses significant risks to the civil rights of the Australian public, despite providing many new social and economic opportunities. As it stands, Australia’s regulatory system fails to fully address and balance these risks against the wealth of opportunities – an issue that will grow with increased use of these technologies.

Our submission responds to two issues arising out of the Terms of Reference presented by the Select Committee on Adopting AI: (e) opportunities to foster a responsible AI industry in Australia; and (f) potential threats to democracy in institutions from generative AI.

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Submission: Inquiry into Access to Australian Parliament House by Lobbyists

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) welcomes the opportunity to make a submission to the Senate Finance and Public Administration Reference Committee about the Inquiry into access to Australian Parliament House by lobbyists.

Our full submission is below.

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Submission: Serious racial and religious vilification (review of s 93z).

Australia is a signatory to both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). These instruments impose obligations to prohibit discrimination solely based on race, colour, sex, religion or social origin. The ICCPR also functions to protect individuals' freedom of expression, whilst acknowledging this freedom is not without limits.

While Australia's international obligations are not solely responsible for the NSW Government's decision to introduce offences intended to prohibit discrimination against individuals or groups based on special characteristics, key instruments (such as the ICCPR and ICERD) provide important social and political context to the legal background.

Section 93Z was introduced to the Crimes Act in 2018, creating an offence of publicly threatening or inciting violence on the grounds of certain characteristics held by a person or group of persons. These characteristics include a person's race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex or HIV/AIDS status.

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Submission: Your Say on Outdoor Alcohol Restrictions

The NSWCCL opposes outdoor alcohol restrictions in public places, including alcohol-free zones and alcohol prohibited areas in parks and public spaces. We argue that these restrictions impede on freedom of movement and disproportionately affect marginalised individuals. Instead, we advocate for evidence-based harm minimisation programs and support services.

Our full submission is below. 

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Submission: Migration Amendment (Removal and Other Measures) Bill 2024

We recommend that the Government bins this repugnant bill and we urge all of our members to take a vocal, immediate stand against it. It attempts to legitimate the exclusion, detention, and criminalisation of people based on where they are born. The NSWCCL recommends that the Government reconsider its approach to legislating on this issue and engage in a more transparent and consultative process reflective of the importance of the fundamental principles of democracy including the separation of powers and rule of law.

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Submission: COVID 19 Royal Commission

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) has submitted a statement to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee regarding the proposed COVID-19 Royal Commission. We highlighted existing efforts by a three-member panel appointed in 2023 to inquire into the government's response to COVID-19 and emphasized the need to prevent duplicative work. We recommended considering alternative methods to address misinformation without the need for a Royal Commission.

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Submission: Right wing extremist movements in Australia

The Council notes the concerningly growing threat of violent right wing extremism both overseas and in Australia, as well as the major impact of the online environment in radicalising young people towards extremist behaviour. There have been many incidents of right wing terrorist attacks which have caused large death tolls in Western countries. If not properly addressed, the spread of hateful and xenophobic far-right ideology will discernibly continue to threaten democracy, the rule of law and safety of citizens.

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Submission: Public Consultation on Doxxing and Privacy Reforms

The New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties provides this submission with a view to highlighting the inadequacies of the multi-pronged approach to combatting doxxing, which contextualises the need for a statutory tort for invasions of privacy.

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Submission: Jury Amendment Bill 2023

The NSWCCL recognises the importance of increasing the efficiency of jury empanelment, the provision of enhanced support for jurors to perform their role and reducing the expenditure of resources on trials that are ultimately aborted or result in hung juries. The NSWCCL also recognises the validity of majority verdict legislation in criminal and coronial trials. However, the NSWCCL is concerned that the proposed amendment to Section 55F of the Jury Act 1977 (The Act) may compromise a jury’s ability to properly consider the guilt to innocence of an accused person, and that such a compromise is made in exchange for a speculative and nominal reduction in the expenditure of resources on trials and reduction in hung juries. The NSWCCL is further concerned that the proposed amendment to Section 73A(1) of the Act unnecessarily broadens the investigative power of the NSW Sherriff’s Office (Sherriff). The broadening of the investigative power is significant and not safeguarded or constrained by current legislation.

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