NSWCCL Submissions

Submission: Access to Australian Parliament House by lobbyists

At present in Australia we rely on a public lobbyist Register and a Code of Conduct that does not cover the majority of lobbyists. Third party, or commercial lobbyists are paid professionals who are engaged by clients to make representations to influence public officials on their behalf, while in-house lobbyists are those that seek to influence public officials on behalf of their employer. Industries hire professional in-house lobbyists and former politicians for their connections, paying fees well outside the budget of non-corporate actors. This is simply NOT good enough!

Fossil fuel industry lobbyists have included former Liberal Party, National Party and ALP ministers. We know that lobbying by the fossil fuel industry to hinder effective climate action has been successful in slowing down Australia’s response to the Climate Crisis. Recent history shows us that relentless lobbying knocked out Australia’s chance to have an effective emissions trading scheme, a mining tax and price on carbon. If the halls of Parliament are saturated by industry lobbyists and not counterbalanced by community voices, politicians’ views will be skewed to favour industry.

Safeguarding our democracy from the pressures of big money and big influence will improve the functioning of government and ensure that political outcomes are in the public’s best interests. The Australian public deserve those who they have elected to serve their interests – and their interests alone.

Australians are at risk of further losing faith and trust in our civil institutions, our political institutions and our elected politicians if Governments do not embrace transparency and accountability advocated in our submission.

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Submission: Inquiry into the administration of the 2023 NSW state election & other matters

Misinformation and disinformation in political advertising is a widespread problem in Australia. We think, that NSW should have truth in political advertising laws for NSW state elections and believe that such laws would enhance the integrity and transparency of the electoral system. Misleading political advertising can cause serious societal harms including:

  • the erosion of trust in democratic processes;
  • the weakening of trust between and among public and private entities;
  • the weakening legitimacy of the social contract between voters and elected representatives; and
  • the undermining of an informed populace.

In our submission to Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (Committee) regarding the administration of the 2023 NSW state election and other matters. We express views in respect of:

  • political donations from property developers, including through shell companies and charities;
  • truth in political advertising;
  • the timeliness of political donation disclosures; and
  • electoral participation and enfranchisement, particularly regarding imprisoned persons and people living with disability.

Read our submission here.

Submission: Future foundations for giving draft report

NSWCCL endorses the draft recommendations of the Commission which will bring reforms to the Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) system, making it more transparent, simpler, fairer and more consistent. The current DGR system is complex legislation and operates under outdated categories that do not capture the diversity of modern Australian charities. In our submission we comment specifically on areas that require further action to ensure a more democratic process and that align more consistently with civil rights. Our submission also concentrates on the system that determines which entities in Australia can receive tax deductable donations rather than tax incentives encouraging donation.  

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Submission: Review of the amendments made by the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Citizenship Repudiation) Bill 2023

The Bill was introduced into Parliament on 29 November 2023, and was passed by both Houses on 6 December 2023. Now in force as the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Citizenship Repudiation) Act 2023 (Act), it has repealed and replaced provisions of Subdivision C of Division 3 of Part 2 of the Australian Citizenship Act 2007.

This Bill should have been referred to the PJCIS to allow proper scrutiny before, not after, the Bill passed. This legislation was rushed through both the House and the Senate with very limited consultation, no exposure drafts and very short notice. In our view, no clear or adequate justification has been given for this rushed process.

In 2015, in a highly politicised environment, where there was very little nuanced public debate regarding national security, the Australian government added citizenship revocation on terrorism-related grounds (citizenship stripping) into the Australian Citizenship Act. Citizenship revocation was introduced to both dissuade disaffected people from committing acts of terrorism, as well as addressing the anticipated risks that individuals who had been convicted of terrorism related offences may pose to the community upon their release.

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Submission: Division 3 of Part III of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979

The New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties considers that the powers contained in Division 3 of Part III of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 (Cth) (Division 3) disproportionately infringe on fundamental civil liberties, create a serious threat to the rule of law in Australia, and moreover, no longer have the utility which precipitated their creation. The NSWCCL submits that Division 3 should be repealed in full.

The Division 3 powers, when introduced, were cast as a transient response to an exceptional set of events, as a response to the perceived terrorism threat following the 9/11 attacks. However, more than two decades on, and what were once powers of unprecedented and exceptional reach, are now a permanent feature of Australia’s legal landscape. Given the reduction in the threat of terrorism, coupled with the fact that Division 3 powers have rarely been utilised, the powers given to Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) under Division 3 are now well beyond the scope of what is reasonably necessary. They overstep intelligence collection and veer into investigatory powers that are properly the purvey of law enforcement agencies.

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Submission: Digital ID Bill 2023

In our submission about the Australian Government Digital Identity System (AGDIS) we have underscored our commitment to safeguarding civil liberties in the face of evolving digital identity systems.

While NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) endorses the codification of AGDIS, which includes the Document Verification Service and facial verification technology, concerns persist regarding the lack of an effective legal framework. Recent high-profile data breaches underscore the urgency of regulation and enforcement in identity protection. The impetus for the swift introduction of this legislation is the imperative to address cybercrime, but recent amendments fall short in addressing crucial issues.

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Submission: COVID 19 Royal Commission

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties is opposed to Senator Malcolm Roberts' proposal for a Royal Commission into COVID-19. We believe that such an inquiry is both unnecessary and potentially harmful, and we urge the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee to carefully consider the implications of this call.

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Joint Submission: Reviewing legal protections against forced marriage NSW

The New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties (“the Council”) and Muslim Women Australia (“MWA”) have filed a joint submission into the New South Wales Review of Legal Protections against Forced Marriage.

Comments from Lydia Shelly, President, NSW Council for Civil Liberties
The legal responses to forced marriages largely ignores the victim-survivor’s lived experience of forced marriage. If we are to develop a holistic response to forced marriage, then this must be remedied, and the victim-survivor’s experiences must be considered in a meaningful and tangible way.

Forced marriage is often thought of as an “event” and not the process of coercive and controlling behaviours that can be perpetrated by family, friends, community and others who are in positions of trust and authority.

Whilst a legislative response is required as part of a holistic response to forced marriage, more must be done to prevent forced marriages from occurring. It is in this “preventative” space that holds the most promise in addressing the complex factors that increase the risk of a forced marriage occurring.

The reality is that the majority of victim-survivors do not readily identify themselves as being at risk of, or a party to a forced marriage. Any intervention that exists must include community led initiatives and must reflect the cultural and religious norms within these communities.

Government should be focusing efforts on strengthening collaboration and trust between communities, community organisations, agencies and service providers.

We acknowledge the immense harm that those in our governments have caused with respect to social cohesion when they have demonised communities, such as the refugee and Muslim communities. This does little to cultivate trust between communities most at risk of experiencing forced marriages. Legal protections are only effective if there is community cooperation and further training for frontline service providers and agencies.

We are concerned that legislative reform, such as expanding the standing of those who may be able to apply for an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order on behalf of a victim-survivor, will not address the complex factors that result in forced marriages occurring.

Any assistance that is provided to victim-survivors must not be dependent on involvement with law enforcement or the criminal justice system. Currently, the majority of assistance that could be provided to victim-survivors are often too late and are dependent on law enforcement being involved.

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Joint Submission: Exposure Draft Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 2022

NSWCCL and ACON wrote to the NSW Government to oppose the blanket restriction on the administration of scheduled substances as outlined in the Exposure Draft of the Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Regulation. 

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Priorities 2024-26 for the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) congratulates the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism (the Special Rapporteur) on his appointment and thanks him for the opportunity to make a submission on his mandate priorities for 2024-26, and in particular on which of the 'new issues' identified by him should be a priority.

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