NSWCCL Submissions

Submission: Review of the Migration Amendment (Clarifying International Obligations for Removal) Act 2021

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (‘NSWCCL’) welcomes the opportunity to make a submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security regarding its review of the operation, effectiveness and implications of the amendments made to the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) (‘Migration Act’) by Schedule 1 of the Migration Amendment (Clarifying International Obligations for Removal) Act 2021 (Cth) (‘Clarifying Act’).

The Clarifying Act claims to support Australia’s international non-refoulement obligations by amending the Migration Act to clarify that it does not require or authorise the removal of a person who is deemed an unlawful non-citizen and for whom a protection finding has been made through the protection visa process.

However, NSWCCL is deeply concerned that by operation and effect, the Clarifying Act subjects a person captured by the laws to ongoing mandatory immigration detention, without any time limit or safeguards to prevent prolonged or indefinite detention.

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Submission: Call for Inputs from the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of human rights in the context of climate change

Ian Fry, Australian National University Professor and Tuvalu’s former ambassador for Climate Change for over 21 years, was appointed in May 2022 by the UN Human Rights Council, as the first Special Rapporteur on climate, following the overwhelming vote to recognize the Right to a Healthy Environment, in 2021.

Recently the Special Rapporteur called for inputs on the promotion of human rights in the context of climate change.The NSW Council for Civil Liberties welcomed the opportunity to make a submission.

Climate change is an urgent threat to humanity and to the full enjoyment of fundamental human rights. Threats to the environment are threats to everyone, and collaborative efforts at national, regional, and global levels are required for effective climate action.

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Submission: National Security Information (Criminal and Civil Proceedings) Act 2004 (Cth)

The NSW Council of Civil Liberties  considers that urgent reform of the National Security Information (Criminal and Civil Proceedings) Act 2004 (Cth) is required. The federal government has flagged amendments to national security laws to ensure that the near total secrecy that hid the prosecution and imprisonment of a former Australian intelligence officer cannot happen again.

While we applaud this sentiment, we are concerned that the NSI Act is easily abused for political ends, prescribes a misguided objective, and fails to provide adequate protections that would ensure open and fair justice in the trials to which it applies. We need action.

Having regard to the significant issues with the current NSI Act, the Council submits that it is not fit for purpose and that urgent legislative overhaul is required. We are agnostic as to whether this should occur via wholesale legislative reform to the existing NSI Act, or by repealing and replacing the current regime. What is important, however, is that the reformed version of the regime ensures better protections to parties’ rights and open justice, and adequate procedural limits on the exercise of powers under the NSI Act.

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Submission: The operation of Commonwealth Freedom of Information (FOI) laws

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties welcomed the opportunity to make a submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee in regard to its inquiry into the operation of Commonwealth Freedom of Information (FOI) laws.

This inquiry came about after the Greens, Coalition and crossbench teamed up to force the issue. The FOI commissioner, Leo Hardiman, announced his resignation earlier in March citing his lack of powers to make changes necessary to improve the timeliness of reviews of FOI decisions.

The former senator Rex Patrick has brought a federal court case challenging lengthy delays in the FOI review process. He has warned that vast delays plague Australia’s “broken” freedom of information system and are shielding the activities of government from scrutiny.

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Report: Review of Australia’s Modern Slavery Act 2018

NSWCCL made a submission to the Modern Slavery Review Team in November 2022 outlining four key recommendations to the legislative framework. 

On 25 May 2023, the government tabled the Review of the Modern Slavery Act in Parliament which considers the current legislation and the operation of the Act in the first three years of implementation. The Act and its administrative implementation were considered as part of this review.

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Submission: Inquiry into the Administration of the Referendum into an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) welcomes the opportunity to make a submission to the Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee (Committee) in regard to the administration of the referendum into an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice (Referendum).

NSWCCL's submission focuses on key issues relating to the disenfranchisement of First Nations people, misinformation and disinformation, and the ongoing integrity and assurance process of the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC).

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Submission: The Provisions of the Constitution Alteration (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice) 2023 Bill.

We support the Voice as an enactment of the Uluru Statement of the Heart, and the proposed amendment to the Constitution of Australia. We submit that the proposed wording is appropriate and should be put to the Australian people in its current form.

Whilst this Inquiry is based on the wording of the proposed amendment, we observe that many submissions provided are more concerned with the concept of the Voice, laced with unfounded fears and scaremongering, akin to those upon the introduction of the Native Title Act 1993.[1] In our submission, we call on the Committee to consider such submissions in that light.

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Submission: Criminal Code Amendment (Prohibition of Nazi Symbols) Bill 2023

The New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) welcomes the opportunity to make a submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs in regard to The Criminal Code Amendment (Prohibition of Nazi Symbols) Bill 2023 (the Bill).

Freedom of expression does not give licence to individuals to engage in expression which engenders hate and incites violence. To that end, we support the principles underpinning the bill. However, the council believes it is the promotion of Nazi ideology which should be criminalised. To the extent that this Bill falls short of that objective, it is inadequate.  It seeks to criminalise only one aspect of the promotion of Nazi ideology – the display of Nazi symbols.  That does not go to the heart of the problem.  Careful consideration of how to prevent the promotion of Nazi ideology is required – the criminal law is only one of the required tools; other tools are required – education, engagement, diversion – and the criminalised conduct should be the core of the offensive conduct, not a superficial aspect.  


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Submission: NSWCCL response to the release the Privacy Act Review Report.

As previously submitted, privacy is a fundamental human right that is central to the maintenance of democratic societies and achieving respect for human dignity. To this end, urgent reform is required to modernise the Act and ensure it is fit for purpose in the digital age, and the NSWCCL reiterates its previous submissions outlined in its response dated 9 January 2022 to the Attorney General’s Privacy Act Review Discussion Paper.

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Submission: COVID-19 Vaccination Status (Prevention of Discrimination) Bill 2022 (Cth) (Discrimination Bill) and the Fair Work Amendment (Prohibiting COVID-19 Vaccine Discrimination) Bill 2023 (Cth) (FW Amendment Bill)

NSWCCL supports the right to decide whether or not to receive a vaccine. We acknowledge that people have valid reasons for choosing to refuse a vaccination (including medical and religious reasons). NSWCCL also supports the objective that the broader community is deserving of the greatest level of health and wellbeing available to them.  This includes employers and business providing a safe work environment and complying with state and federal work health and safety laws, employees and other workers having the right to a safe work environment, and vulnerable and at-risk members of society who are susceptible to the effects of COVID-19 (e.g. the immunocompromised) being safe in the community.

In our view, the Bills in question, unreasonably and disproportionately protect the unvaccinated at the expense of the rights of other members of the community. Based on the generally accepted medical science, the Bills are incompatible with human rights.

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