NSWCCL Submissions

Submission: Application of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Australia

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) seeks to provide protection to First Nations peoples worldwide. It establishes guidelines setting minimum standards for individual, cultural, and collective rights.  The UNDRIP was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2007 and was adopted by Australia two years later in 2009. 

On 29 March 2022, the Senate referred an inquiry into the application of the UNDRIP to the Legal and Constitutional References Committee. NSWCCL has welcomed the opportunity to present a submission to the Committee, declaring that more can be done to better incorporate the principles and aims of UNDRIP into Australian law.

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Submission: Inquiry Into The Road Transport Amendment (Medicinal Cannabis Exemptions From Offences) Bill 2021

Update 11 August 2022:

The parliamentary inquiry has published its report here and recommended that the Legislative Council proceed to debate the Road Transport Amendment (Medicinal Cannabis-Exemption from Offences) Bill 2021.

The committee elected not to take a position on the bill, despite substantive witness evidence relating to the impact of the current law, broad community support for the use of medicinal cannabis and the availability of exemptions in other jurisdictions.

NSWCCL made a submission to the NSW Legislative Council's Standing Committee on Law and Justice Inquiry Into The Road Transport Amendment (Medicinal Cannabis Exemptions From Offences) Bill 2021

NSWCCL supports the passage of the Bill, which addresses discriminatory, inequitable and out of date presence-based drug driving practices targeting medical cannabis patients. NSWCCL agrees that those patients in Australia who are legally prescribed medicinal cannabis should be exempted from prosecution for driving with Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in their system, unless there is clear evidence of impairment.

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Submission: CLOUD Act Agreement

NSWCCL made a joint submission with the Australian Information Industry Association to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties Inquiry into the Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of the United States of America on Access to Electronic Data for the Purpose of Countering Serious Crime under the CLOUD act.

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Submission: Modern Slavery

NSWCCL made a submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties Inquiry into the International Labour Organization Protocol of 2014 to Forced Labour Convention 1930 (No. 29).

We strongly support the ratification of this treaty; we also called for the adoption of this protocol so that its provisions become a part of domestic law. Rights with no remedy under Australian law are paper rights only - adoption is essential to ensure full protection for this vulnerable population.

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Submission: Commencement of the Fisheries Management Amendment Act 2009

Update 8 November 2022: The findings from this inquiry examining the extensive 13 year delay of the NSW Government to commence legislation to protect Indigenous cultural fishing and the impact on the community of failing to do so has been handed down. The report is a damning indictment on the failure of the current government to act on its own policy. It calls on the NSW government commence section 21AA by June 30 next year. Read the report here.

Update 1 November 2022: The Fisheries Management Amendment (Enforcement Powers) Bill 2022, to be debated next week, will enable Fisheries Officers to search a person, arrest without warrant, enter premises, or require information relevant to potential charges, prior to charges or arrest. This ammendment was tabled last month and will be debated next week. NSWCCL opposes this ammendment in the strongest terms. Read more here.

Update 30 May 2022: The parliamentary inquiry has published submissions and will hold a community hearing on the south coast on July 28, with hearings in other locations scheduled in August.

Aboriginal people should be able to exercise their traditional rights to fish free from the burden of fearing criminal charges.

In our submission into this inquiry, we outlined how the non-commencement of the Fisheries Management Amendment Act 2009 impacts the fundamental human rights of Aboriginal people living on the South coast of NSW. 

We proposed that the Government’s response should incorporate substantial initiatives to enable Aboriginal fishers to obtain a reasonable share of commercial quotas so that they can carry out their traditional activities in a meaningful and sustainable manner.

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Submission: Review of the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill 2021

NSWCCL has made a submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security Review of the National Security Legislation Amendment (Comprehensive Review and Other measures No. 1) Bill 2021. 

The Bill would amend several acts and would increase the powers of Australian intelligence agencies.

These changes raise a number of questions about what this entails for Australians and, in particular, the work of journalists and media organisations. CCL is concerned that the proposed amendments will carry undesirable consequences.

Our concerns include:

  • The breadth of circumstances in which heads of intelligence services can act without Ministerial approval, as well as their capacity to then delegate powers to junior staff members.
  • Could baking for a lamington drive or turning chipolatas at a sausage sizzle held by a local community group constitute ‘support’ for a listed organisation? Such support could be relied upon by the Minister to authorise activities to enable intelligence to be produced - despite having been provided innocently by someone unaware that the group is listed. 
  • The proposed amendments have the potential to limit the freedom of journalists and media organisations and inhibit the provision of information to the public. They could be misused and  weaponised against media organisations to hinder journalists’ abilities to freely report on legitimate news.
  • Is it appropriate for staff immunities to extinguish the rights of affected Australians to obtain a legal remedy in respect of any loss or damage they may suffer if their computer or device is affected during intelligence activities?

We fear that the proposed amendments have the potential to add to an incremental erosion of the civil rights and freedoms of Australians.

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Submission: Anti-Racism Framework

NSWCCL made a submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission welcoming its plan to develop a National Anti-Racism Framework.

In particular, we support:

  • building a stronger legal framework to improve protections against racial discrimination
  • constitutional recognition of First Nations peoples
  • implementation of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • effective anti-racism and racial equality initiatives
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Submission: Ending Indefinite and Arbitrary Immigration Detention Bill 2021

NSWCCL has made a submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Migration Inquiry into the Ending Indefinite and Arbitrary Immigration Detention Bill 2021.

In our view, passing the Ending Indefinite and Arbitrary Immigration Detention Bill into law is morally and legally necessary. The Bill corrects the deviation from human rights and international norms in the course the government has taken in its treatment of refugees and unauthorised arrivals under the domestic legislative framework.

There are 1,513 people in immigration detention facilities, including 1,276 in immigration detention on the mainland and 237 people in immigration detention on Christmas Island. There are also 137 people effectively in detention on Nauru and another 145 people effectively in detention on Manus Island and PNG. The suffering of unauthorised entrants to this country under Australia’s system of indefinite mandatory detention is well documented. Indefinite detention is inhumane and cruel. Loss of liberty is one of the greatest punishments that humans bestow on each other. As a nation, we are guilty.

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Submission: Inquiry into Religious Discrimination Bill 2021 and related bills

NSWCCL has made a submission to the Inquiry into Religious Discrimination Bill 2021 and related bills. 

It is our view that the suite of bills, in their current form must be withdrawn for reconsideration and redrafting, or opposed. They do not get the balance right between the important task of protecting religious adherents and non-believers from religious discrimination; and protecting others from discrimination by religious adherents and non-believers.

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Submission: Privacy Act review

Update: The Privacy Act Review Report was released on 16 February 2023. NSWCCL was pleased to see that many of the recommendations the Council made in our submission were supported in the review.

A key recommendation in the review is ensuring the collection of, use and disclosure of personal information is fair and reasonable, including whether the “impact on privacy is proportionate to the benefit”. The Council supports the inclusion of non-exhaustive legislated factors that are relevant to determining whether the collection, use, or disclosure of personal information is fair and reasonable in the circumstances. However, it considers that clear guidance and examples of how these factors may apply in practice must be provided.

The standard of ‘fair and reasonable’ must be assessed by reference to the perspective of the individual, rather than being assessed from an APP entity’s perspective. We consider that having clear guidance from the outset, rather than waiting to see how the courts interpret such new provisions, will empower APP entities to appropriately assess whether any proposed data collection, use or disclosure would be unfairly prejudicial to, or unreasonable having consideration to the expectations of, the individual. In particular, to the extent that these factors do require consideration of what is ‘fair and reasonable’ from the perspective of the individual, the APP entity should be required to consider and satisfy each factor. This is because the protection of personal information and right to privacy should be fundamental to the Act, and should not be readily outweighed by business considerations.

The review has also proposed “direct right of action” that allows individuals to seek compensation in the Federal Court for a breach of privacy, which privacy advocates have long called for. To access the action, a claimant would first need to make a complaint to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC).

The Council supports the creation of a direct right of action. The NSWCCL considers it important that individuals can personally litigate a claim for breach of their privacy under the Privacy Act. However, the ability of individuals to do so is currently limited. The creation of a direct right of action would therefore give individuals greater control over their personal information by providing an additional avenue of redress under the Privacy Act. This, in turn, would encourage better compliance by APP entities of their privacy obligations under the Act.

However, the expansion of the OAIC’s funding is critical given that several proposals contained within the Discussion Paper involve the broadening of the OAIC’s current remit. Chronic underfunding will erode the effectiveness of any privacy protections the OAIC seeks to implement and support. To properly conduct both its existing and proposed activities, the OAIC must be adequately funded and consulted in respect of the resources it requires. The OAIC received limited funding to support its privacy initiatives in the 2021-2022 Federal Budget, despite a significant expansion in its activities with the onset of its Digital Economy Strategy.

NSWCCL made a submission to the Review of the Privacy Act 1988 advocating for urgent reform to modernise the Act and ensure it is fit for purpose in the digital economy. Privacy is a fundamental human right that is central to the maintenance of democratic societies and achieving respect for human dignity. In this regard, the NSWCCL submits that the right to privacy should be the paramount object of the Act and considers the two primary areas of concern in debates relating to privacy are:

  • (a) the intrusive observation of one’s actions (whether by surveillance, listening, data analysis or other mode); and
  • (b) the discussion and the misuse of personal information.

NSWCCL supports in-principle many of the proposals outlined in the Discussion Paper and commends the Attorney General’s Department for reflecting the legitimate privacy concerns of a broad spectrum of society. Many Australians are concerned about gaps and ambiguities in the existing privacy regime that undermine the right to privacy. This is especially important in the context of unprecedented integration of digital technology in our everyday lives.

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