NSWCCL Submissions

Submission: Free and Equal, Human Rights in Australia

A NSW Council for Civil Liberties Submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Free and Equal: An Australian conversation on human rights project. This submission argues that human rights have not been respected in Australia, are not protected, and suggests some methods to improve human rights in Australia.

This submission intends to address the following questions from the Issues Paper:

2. How should human rights be protected in Australia?
3. What are the barriers to the protection of human rights in Australia?

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Australia's mass data retention regime under review

The PJCIS is reviewing the legislation that established the excessive mandatory data retention regime in 2015.

This review is happening at a timely moment as the Australian community ponders the implications of the extraordinary AFP raids on the ABC and a News Limited journalist a few weeks ago. We were not surprised at the AFP raids on the ABC and other journalists. These intimidatory raids are an inevitable consequence of  Australia's large expanding suite of surveillance and secrecy laws.

 

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NSWCCL submission to Productivity Commission on Mental Health

The Productivity Commission is currently conducting an inquiry into mental health. The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (CCL) submission to this inquiry is now online.

Our submission focuses on two issues. First, it addresses features of the justice system, and Aboriginal people with disabilities. It then turns to considering the social security systems, and how these contribute to mental health issues in Australia.

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Not a good day in parliament - encryption breaking powers legislated

Two needed bills abandoned -  one flawed and reckless bill waved though – a sad day in the Australian Parliament.

On Thursday, the last chaotic day of the Parliamentary session, the Prime Minister declared he would do all in his power to thwart the majority will of parliament.

His stated motive was to stop Parliament from passing legislation requiring the transfer of refugee children in need of medical care from Nauru to Australia for treatment. His deeper motive was to avoid his Government suffering a Parliamentary defeat on substantive legislation.  

He succeeded by filibustering in the Senate and when the Bill was eventually passed by a majority of senators, by closing down the House of Representatives so the Bill could not be considered there.

This was shameful – both in process and outcome.

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Migration Amendment (Clarification of Jurisdiction) Bill 2018

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) thanks the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee for its invitation to make a submission concerning the Migration Amendment (Clarification of Jurisdiction) Bill 2018.

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Legislative assault on civil society and public political discourse

NSWCCL worked with other councils for civil liberties through January and February to respond to the large, complex and alarming Espionage and Foreign Intervention Bill 2017 and the related Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform Bill 2017.

These Bills are part of a major package of proposed legislation relating to national security and foreign intervention which also included three other bills: the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Bill 2017, the Security of Critical Infrastructure Bill 2017 and the Home Affairs and Integrity Agencies Legislation Amendment Bill 2017.

These Bills encompassed much beyond foreign intervention and national security. They also encompass an extraordinary multi-faceted attack on civil society’s right to participate in public political discourse.

This attack included a massive expansion of national secrecy laws capturing not just public officials but also any person who makes an unauthorized disclosure of information covered by these laws. Journalists rightly protested that the secrecy laws effectively criminalised every phase of journalists work.    Charities and independent advocacy bodies like GetUp were targeted so as to undermine their participation in public political discourse.  Many of the offences carry very serious penalties – in the case of general secrecy offences more than doubling current penalties.

The PM rightly described this package as ‘the most important overhaul of our counterintelligence legislative framework since the 1970s’. It was therefore a disgrace that we were only given a few weeks to comment on them. Strong protests from civil society groups eventually gained an extension into mid/late February.  

Few organisations were able to respond to all the Bills in this timeframe. NSWCCL in conjunction with the Joint CCLs prepared submissions on the large and important Espionage and Foreign Intervention Bill 2017 and the Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform Bill. We failed to get in a submission on the equally alarming Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Bill 2017.

The reaction from civil society and the media – and the Law Council of Australia (LCA) - has been ferocious. The Attorney-General Christian Porter responded with a package of amendments to alleviate the impact of the secrecy offences on journalists.

This was a smart and positive move by the AG. His proposed amendments to his own Bill were in line with recommendations made by civil society and the LCA – however they are a long way from solving the very problems with these Bills.

The Parliamentary Committee on intelligence and security will report on the most significant of these Bills in April.  In the interim NSWCCL will do what it can to persuade  Parliament not to pass these Bills - and certainly not in their current form.  

 

Dr Lesley Lynch

Vice-President NSWCCL 

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Submission to PJSCEM Inquiry on Electoral Funding and Disclosure Bill 2018

NSWCCL recently joined with other CCLs to oppose the deeply disturbing Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform Bill 2017.

This Bill will not deliver the reform to electoral funding that is urgently needed in Australia. It will however, deliver a devastating blow to civil society’s capacity to participate in political advocacy and to the broad freedom of political communication.  

In addition, it proposes a clumsy, heavy handed, costly and overly burdensome approach to regulation of the charity and political advocacy sectors. 

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Submission to PJCIS Inquiry into the National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill 2017 - February 2018

NSWCCL worked with other councils for civil liberties through January and February to respond to the large, complex and alarming Espionage and Foreign Intervention Bill 2017 and the related Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform Bill 2017. These Bills encompassed much beyond foreign intervention and national security. They also encompass an extraordinary multi-faceted attack on civil society’s right to participate in public political discourse.

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Submission to New South Wales Law Reform Commission: Review of Guardianship Act 1987 - February 2018

We acknowledge that persons without decision-making abilities, or a limitation thereof, are vulnerable members of society, and such persons should be supported to make decisions concerning crucial aspects of their lives in order to be afforded an opportunity to live as  comfortably and freely as others. Hence, insofar as the draft proposals of the New South Wales Law Reform Commission (‘NSWLRC’) on its review of the Guardianship Act 1987 (NSW) promote these individuals’ civil liberties in both the public and private domains, we support the proposed changes to the current arrangements existing under the Guardianship Act 1987 (NSW).

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Submission to NSW Joint Legislation Review Committee inquiry into Legislation Review Act - November 2017

The Legislation Review Committee (LRC) was created as an alternative to the adoption of a Bill of Rights for New South Wales. It has not functioned well, and is no substitute for such a  bill.

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