NSWCCL Submissions

Submission: Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Requirements for Australian Citizenship and Other Measures) Bill 2017

Hundreds of submissions were made to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee on the Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Requirements for Australian Citizenship and Other Measures) Bill 2017.

CCL views the Bill as dangerous, undemocratic and unfair. In brief we argued that the Bill:

  • creates a class of permanent residents who are denied recognition as citizens
  • requires new citizens to accept arbitrarily defined "Australian values"
  • confers unwarranted extraordinary powers on the Minister for Immigration
  • requires that applicants for citizenship have a knowledge of English which is set at an unfairly high level.

This cannot be to the benefit of Australian society. The extended powers create a high risk that they will, by error or design, be subject to misuse and the creation of unfairness. No Minister should have such unfettered powers.

Read our submission here.


Submission: Non-consensual sharing of intimate images

Civil penalties for non-consensual sharing of intimate images -“revenge porn”

In a recent submission to the Department of Communication & the Arts, NSWCCL made specific recommendations to a proposed Commonwealth government prohibition on non-consensual sharing of intimate images, colloquially referred to as “revenge porn”.  We also addressed the question of appropriate civil penalties to deter, prevent and mitigate harm to victims, by individuals and content hosts, who breach the prohibition.

NSWCCL considers the non-consensual sharing of intimate images to be a privacy issue. It occurs when experiences, deemed private, are distributed without consent to the public, the victim’s family, work mates, employer or friends.  Nonetheless, privacy requires a balance of interests, therefore defences of public interest and consent should be available to the perpetrator.

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Submission: A National Integrity Commission for Australia?

NSWCCL has formally argued its strong support for a national anti-corruption agency in Australia.

We put our views in a submission to the current Senate Select Committee Inquiry on a National Integrity Commission (NIC) which continues the work of the 2016 Inquiry on the same topic: i.e. should  Australia have a national anti-corruption body like the NSW ICAC and similar bodies in other states?

As a civil liberties organisation NSWCCL has previously opposed anti-corruption agencies sitting outside the established justice system and wielding extraordinary coercive and covert powers. We have cautiously shifted our position in response to the growing threat that increasingly complex forms of corruption pose to the public good in Australia:  undermining the integrity of our political system, distorting the policy making process, diverting resources from public good objectives and generally undermining public trust in our political class, governing institutions and public administration. 

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Government overreach on s18(C)

On Wednesday last week (22/3/170) the AG George Brandis introduced the Human Rights Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 into the Senate with the intention of its being considered very quickly. It immediately generated a wave of community opposition – especially from ethnic/multicultural community groups.  

On Thursday, the Bill was referred to the Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee for a ridiculously rushed ‘review’ with the Committee having to report by the following Tuesday (28/3/17).

This was a provocative time frame, effectively barring the community from any meaningful input into assessing the implications of the proposed changes on the ambit and operation of the Act. 

NSWCCL strongly opposes the proposed amendments in this Bill which will seriously and unnecessarily weaken protections against race hate speech  currently provided by s18(C ) of the Act.

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s18C survives Parliamentary review

The right to protection against race hate speech 

The Freedom of Speech in Australia Report (28th January 2017) will bring no joy to those urging wholesale repeal  or major  weakening  of Part IIA of the Racial Discrimination Act  which prohibits racially motivated hate speech. 

At the end of another (unnecessary and rushed) review process, which attracted 11460 responses, the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee was unable to make a recommendation to the Government on this core provision.  Instead it restricted itself to listing 6 options that had the support of at least one Committee member. (R3).  Neither abolition nor major weakening of the provision appears in this list of options. Not one Committee member supported an extreme option.

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Submission: Access to telecommunications data in civil proceedings

NSWCCL recently lodged a submission with the Attorney General’s Department and the Department of Communications and Arts in January 2017. We reiterated our view that the current metadata scheme is an affront to civil liberties and oppose its extension into civil proceedings. Extension of the uses to which metadata may be put is one of the reasons that we opposed the introduction of laws requiring collection and retention of metadata in the first place.

In our submission we noted the international experience, which suggests that metadata rarely makes a difference in criminal investigations. 

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Oversight of NSW Police - reform or rebadging?

A new body of vital importance to the NSW justice sector -the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) – was set up in January following the passage of The Law Enforcement Conduct Commission Act last year. It brings together the oversight and investigative roles of the Police Integrity Commission, the Police Division of the Office of the Ombudsman and the Inspector of the Crime Commission into a single civilian body to oversight police operations.  It has royal commission type powers in some contexts. Its oversight powers relate to the NSW Police Force and the NSW Crimes Commission.

It is the latest outcome from the long (and unfinished) campaign to achieve effective independent oversight of NSW Police operations and was largely shaped by the recommendations of the 2015 Tink Report.  There are grounds to expect this body will significantly improve some aspects of police oversight and accountability but there are gaps and weaknesses in its structure which do not augur well for the much needed reform of police culture in critical areas and may undermine its overall effectiveness. 

 

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Defending s18C of RDA -AGAIN !

Both s18c of the Race Discrimination Act and the Australian Human Rights Commission are again under serious attack from the Federal Government. 

George Brandis’ attempt to weaken s18c in 2014 was soundly repudiated by the Australian people and the then PM (Abbott) wisely retreated and abandoned the amendment.  NSWCCL strongly opposed the Brandis Bill and thought the Government unlikely to try again given the depth of community anger aroused by the proposal..

We were misguided. Emboldened by the recent rise of the far right here and overseas – and within the Liberal Party - the Government is now targeting not just the legal protections against racist abuse provided under s18C but also the processes of the AHRC which have served Australia well for 20 plus years.

This new push poses a serious threat to the protections currently provided by the RDA and to the AHRC. We have therefore again joined many others in arguing the case against weakening s18C and in supporting the overwhelmingly positive record of the AHRC in resolving the vast majority of complaints effectively through conciliation while dismissing those that are trivial or vexatious.  We are not aware of any cases under the RDA which have unreasonably constrained freedom of speech in Australia.  

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Submission: Inquiry into Freedom of Speech in Australia

As one of the most racially and ethnically diverse nations in the world an effective statutory protection against race hatred is an essential safeguard for national harmony. NSWCCL believes the main issue with s18C centres on the lack of clarity of its terms. NSWCCL recommends only those amendments necessary to bring the section in line with its interpretation in case law and/or Australia’s international human rights obligations

View submission


Statement: CCL opposes dangerous serious crimes and public safety laws

The NSW Parliament is this week considering two disturbing proposals for new laws creating ‘Serious Crime Prevention Orders’ and ‘Public Safety Orders’ to combat organized serious crime.

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) has major concerns about both of these proposals.  

The Serious Crime Prevention Orders (SCPO) regime is an extraordinary, unwarranted and dangerous proposal.

It imposes major controls on persons – including not only those who have not been charged or convicted of any criminal offence- but also persons who have been found NOT guilty or have had their convictions quashed.  

The target group potentially caught up in this regime is huge and includes law-abiding citizens.

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