Submission to Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee inquiry into the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor (INSLM) Repeal Bill 2014 [Provisions] - May 2014
The INSLM is an important independent position set up in 2010 with broad review functions relating to the intensely sensitive and complex area of counter-terrorism laws: whether these laws remain proportionate to the threat of terrorism in Australia and whether they contain appropriate safeguards to protect the rights of individuals. It is most inappropriate that such a significant statutory role was proposed for repeal in this covert way without forewarning, substantive rationale or public consultation.
Submission on exposure draft Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Freedom of Speech Repeal of S.18C) Bill 2014 - May 2014
The proposed amendments will dramatically narrow the definition of unlawful racist speech and the contexts in which racial vilification will be allowed are so broad as to include almost every context in which public racist abuse could occur. The Act will effectively be gutted removing vital protections against racial vilification that have worked well for 20 years.
Submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional References Committee (the committee) on the comprehensive revision of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 - April 2014
CCL made an extended submission to the Senate’s review of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act (the TIA Act). We emphasized the importance of privacy as a fundamental right, central to the maintenance of democratic societies and essential for the formation of dissent and the exercise of freedom. We argued that the 330,840 authorisations made in a single year (2012-2013) for access to data about people’s internet use and telecommunications were excessive, and that agencies should be obliged to apply for a warrant before being given such authorisation.
Supplementary Submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters Inquiry into all aspects of the conduct of the 2013 Federal Election - May 2014
There is a need to reform the electoral system to ensure that it translates cast votes into a Parliament truly reflecting the collective view of voters. The following reforms must be made:
- Introducing optional preferential voting in Senate elections both above and below the line
- Abolishing group voting tickets for Senate elections
- Reforming the party registration system.
Submission to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee of the Australian Senate, concerning the Criminal Code Amendment (Misrepresentation of Age to a Minor) Bill 2013 - February 2014
As argued previously, intending to commit a crime is not itself a crime, and should not be made a crime. If crimes have occurred, they are what a person should be charged with. If they haven't, a person should not be charged for what he or she merely has in mind as a plan. NSWCCL recommends that this Bill should be rejected.
Submission to the NSW Ombudsman's review of the use of the consorting provisions by the NSW Police Force - Division 7 Part 3A of the Crimes Act 1900 (November 2013) - February 2014
The current NSW consorting laws impinge on human rights to a degree that far exceeds any benefit that may be obtained from them. The NSW Ombudsman is currently reviewing the police use of these laws, these laws should be repealed and/or radically amended.
Submission to the Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee Inquiry into the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Above the Line Voting) Bill 2013 - December 2013
Reform is clearly imperative and the Committee has responded with a strong and sensible set of recommendations. Most importantly, it recommends a move to optional preferential above the line voting, partial optional preferential voting below the line and the abolition of group and individual voting tickets. Together these two reforms will remove the major distorting factors by making it easier for voters to cast a vote that reflects their preferences.
The NSWCCL believes that the establishment of an independent body to oversee investigations into critical incidents involving police is paramount. The European Court of Human Rights has enunciated five key principles of effective investigation: independence, adequacy, promptness, sufficient public scrutiny and next-of-kin involvement. The NSWCCL believes that this Review should recommend the adoption of these principles in the final model.
"Given the high incidence of surveillance resulting in no ‘relevant information,’ the Council for Civil Liberties is of the view that the Attorney-General should recommend to Parliament that s.52 be amended. The Council recommends that the Act be amended so that issuing authorities can prospectively require a law enforcement agency to report to targets about the use of past surveillance where: (a) no information relevant to a prosecution is found; and (b) it is the second attempt against the same target that has resulted in no information useful to a prosecution being gathered (whether the warrant was issued in respect of the same or a different offence)."
"It has never been more important that lawful surveillance and intrusions upon privacy, which a democratic nation determines to be necessary and proportionate for its security, are subject to strong independent oversight, accountability and maximum transparency.
The amendments proposed in this Bill, if enacted, will provide a significant strengthening of these protections."