The 2016 NSW CCL Annual Dinner on 26 August was a huge success! We had an excellent number of supporters attending.
Uncle Chicka Madden gave a fascinating Welcome to Country, speaking about his times growing up in Redfern. Stephen Blanks, President of NSW CCL, gave an interesting, but somewhat disconcerting, summary of the erosion of civil liberties we have seen over the past year. Pauline Wright, Vice President NSW CCL, was our warm and lively MC.
Bernard Collaery gave the keynote address: Is the right to truth central to the rule of law in a democracy? Bernard has a long and distinguished career in the human rights field. Over decades, he has been part of many of the human rights issues which have arisen in our region. He highlighted the work he has done representing Witness K, an ex ASIS officer who became a whistleblower regarding the alleged bugging of the Timor-Leste Cabinet in negotiations in 2004 concerning the Oil and Gas Treaty between Australia and Timor-Leste. He made the point that not all of Australia’s actions in dealing with our neighbor have actually been in Australia’s national interest.
As well as mentioning the derogations from the rule of law that are becoming more and more common, Bernard emphasized the importance to a democratic society of the role of whistleblowers. He finished with a call to action – that we should support whistleblowers and give them the assistance they require to face up to the excesses of unrestrained Executive power.
The dinner was an opportunity for CCL friends and supporters to catch up, and also a fundraiser for NSW CCL. We are grateful for the generosity of our auction and raffle donors, as well as those who contributed to the raffle and auction. We made a healthy amount of profit to support us in our activities over the next year.
Thank you to all who helped with organization, made donations and all who attended.
The 2015 NSWCCL dinner last Friday was the largest such gathering in living memory – and certainly one of largest in our 52 years of dinners
The huge attendance (and the numbers turned away) reflects the intense public interest in hearing Professor Gillian Triggs speak about current threats to human rights, the rule of law in Australia and the AHRC’s ‘ year of living dangerously'. It also reflects the determination within the community to defend the AHRC and its President from the unwarranted and extreme attacks by the Coalition Government and some members of the media throughout this year.
Professor Triggs did not disappoint. She gave a powerful and chilling analysis of executive government overreach and encroachment on fundamental rights and freedoms over recent years.
Probably even more disturbing was her critique of the recent failures of Parliament to protect these fundamental liberties, leading her to pose two very large questions for Australians:
What then are the safeguards of democratic liberties if Parliament itself is compliant and complicit in expanding executive power to the detriment of the judiciary and ultimately of all Australian citizens?
What are the options for democracy when both major parties, in government and opposition, agree upon laws that explicitly violate fundamental freedoms under the common law and breach Australia’s obligations under international treaties?
Part of Gillian’s address focussed on the controversial issue of the moment- the Government’s proposal to strip dual citizens of their Australian Citizenship for certain actions deemed to justify such extreme punishment. she described this proposal as striking 'at the heart of Australia’s successful migrant and multi-cultural nation and threatens social cohesion.’
(The deeply flawed Australian Citizenship Amendment (Allegiance to Australia) Bill 2015 is currently before Parliament. NSWCCL, with many others, opposes this bill and will, over coming weeks, continue our advocacy to members of parliament to reject the bill.)
The 429 people crammed into the restaurant made their appreciation of Gillian’s speech clear both by applause and the hugely positive vibe for the rest of the evening. In summary, it was a tremendous evening and for the moment at least, there was a perverse mood of optimism within the very crowded room.
Ray Davison - a Gadigal man – opened the dinner with a warm and interesting ‘welcome to country’.
Apart from the key note address, the gathering was treated to a lively summary of the state of affairs of civil liberties and the NSWCCL by President Stephen Blanks.
A welcome side benefit of the crowd and the mood was that our fundraising efforts were very successful- facilitated by a host of volunteers moving round the room and by a few very generous donors of auction and raffle items.
Video of Speeches
NSWCCL invites you to
The NSWCCL Annual Fundraising Dinner 2015
Date: Friday 31 July, 6:30pm for 7pm sit down
Venue: Sky Phoenix Restaurant, Westfield Plaza, Sydney
Ticket prices: $110 for members, $120 for non-members, $1320 for a table of 12 people
We are delighted that the 2015 key note civil liberties address will be given by
Professor Gillian Triggs
President of the Australian Human Rights Commission.
In her current role Professor Triggs has been a strong and fearless advocate for human rights in an extraordinarily challenging context.
She has had a stellar academic career - including Dean of the Faculty of Law and Challis Professor of International Law at the University of Sydney; Director of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law and a Governor of the College of Law. She was formerly a Barrister with Seven Wentworth Chambers.
She has combined her academic career with international commercial legal practice and extensive work with governments and international organisations. Her longstanding commitment to legal education has in recent time been focussed on the Commissions' education programs to inform Australians – and especially children – about their fundamental human rights.
Gillian comes well qualified to speak with conviction and passion on current civil liberties and human rights issues.
NOTE Ticket prices exclude alcoholic drinks, bar will be operating
This event was held on Wednesday 29 April.
NSWCCL President Stephen Blanks will be speaking at this meeting at the University of Sydney. NSWCCL are participating in this event because of the importance of protecting free speech and the right to protest on university campuses - read more about our position in the media coverage of the event.
On 11 March, students and human-rights activists interrupted a speaker at a campus talk. Now the students and a staff member, Jake Lynch, are facing disciplinary action that could see them suspended. NSWCCL is appalled at the use of the code of conduct to discipline staff and students in the context of legitimate protest.
Other speaks at the event include: Senator Lee Rhiannon (Australian Greens), Prof. Stuart Rees AM (Founder, Sydney Peace Foundation), Kyol Blakeney (President, USyd SRC), Michael Thomson (President, USyd NTEU), Fahad Ali (President, USyd Students for Justice in Palestine), Nick Riemer (English and Linguistics, USyd).
More information and to RSVP please go to the Facebook event - Defend USyd civil liberties - staff and student meeting
Click here to read the speech by CCL Vice President Pauline Wright on the night.
Following on from NSWCCL's successful screening of CITIZENFOUR at Parliament House in February, we're pleased to partner with award-winning cinema Avoca Picture Theatre to bring this special screening of the Oscar-winning documentary on Tuesday 24 March at 7pm, introduced by Vice President (and Avoca Beach local) Pauline Wright.Read more
The 51st NSWCCL Annual General Meeting was held on the 15th October 2014 in the Council Chambers at Sydney Town Hall. Around thirty CCL members -including a strong cohort of firstimers -gathered to hear annual reports from the President, Secretary and Treasurer,to elect the Executive and Committee members for 2014/5 and to endorse formal CCL policies around major civil liberties issues.
They heard that the year had been a particularly challenging and depressing one with multiple legislative assaults on civil liberties and rights from both the NSW and the Federal Governments-but that, nonetheless, CCL as an organisation was traveling well.
CCL very actively opposed unwarranted and unwise changes to the recently reformed Bail Act and two rounds of bills proposing mandatory minimum sentences for drug and alcohol fueled violence. For most of the year CCL has been campaigning against a veritable avalanche of new and proposed counter-terrorism laws from the Federal Government which will continue to the end of the current Parliamentary session. CCL had also engaged with electoral processes at both the national (2013 election Senate voting processes) and state level (The City of Sydney Amendment (Elections) Act 2014.)Read more
This year’s NSWCCL fundraising dinner was a ripper. It was a success on all fronts.
There was a splendid turnout of over 250 friends and supporters. The lively crowd appeared to be having a very enjoyable evening. A strong contingent of students and young members made their presence felt and overall the vibes were terrific.
Most significantly, the gathering was treated to a riveting address by the keynote speaker: Professor Ben Saul. His topic -‘The ideological war on human rights. Why are politicians so hostile to basic freedoms?”- was spot on for the times. It was directly relevant to the efforts of civil liberties organisations across Australia to temper the Government’s unwise and reckless over-reach in its avalanche of new counter-terrorism laws, its shameful asylum seekers policies and its general attack on traditional rights and liberties.Read more
The NSWCCL dinner in the Sky Phoenix Restaurant in the Pitt St Westfield Plaza was a grand celebration of our 50th anniversary. There was a splendid turnout of old and new members and friends of NSWCCL and of our key note speaker. We also had several tables of interested students and interns sponsored by member donations.
The formalities of the evening were, understandably, more focused on NSWCCL’s history than usual. Michael Kirby, a member since 1964 and now an honorary life member, spoke movingly via video of his personal experience as a young lawyer working with NSWCCL and, more broadly, of the beneficial impact on the legal profession in Australia from the large numbers of lawyers who had cut their teeth in civil liberties and then gone on to occupy high office on the bench or as solicitors and barrister within the profession. Michael also paid tribute to significant NSWCCL figures who had deeply influenced him over the years. His lifelong engagement with NSWCCL was encapsulated in his final observation that he had now spoken at the 30
th, 40th and 50th anniversary dinners.
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties held its AGM on Wednesday 23 October 2013, and a number of significant decisions were made:
- A new executive and committee were elected, following a very strong field of nominations, requiring a ballot in key positions.
- The Committee endorsed strong policies around current, critical civil liberties issues, including asylum seekers, global surveillance and whistleblowers. Click here to view background and policy details
- Life membership was conferred on our longest serviing President, Cameron Murphy.
Over 350 people gathered in the CBD Sky Phoenix Restaurant on Friday 19 October 2012 to support the NSWCCL Annual Dinner.
Professor George Williams AO tonight launched a national campaign led by the NSW Council for Civil Liberties to wind back the excessive and disproportionate powers given to ASIO in the decade since 9/11. "The greatest assault on civil liberties in Australia since World War II."