Writing in the Strategist, NSWCCL Vice President Lydia Shelly and John Coyne argue that Australians have seen their civil liberties and their community cohesion increasingly securitised and viewed as secondary to the need to prevent violence post 9/11.
"Despite our efforts to promote unity and to deny the world’s divisive cultural, political and ideological conflicts fertile ground to spawn hatred in Australia, old and new divisions remain deeply rooted in our multicultural society. Dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic threatens to further fracture and fragment our understanding of civil liberties and national security and how to protect them both."
UPDATE: This concern has been partially addressed by this amendment to the Public Health Order on 10 July:
27 Direction about use and disclosure of contact details To avoid any doubt, it is directed that contact details provided under clause 25 are to be used or disclosed only for the purposes of contact tracing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Legislation to ensure privacy protection, similar to that passed in Western Australia, would be preferable.
From Monday 12 July, it will be mandatory for all businesses and workplaces in NSW to use the ServiceNSW Check-in tool. While contact tracing is vital for NSW given the seriousness of the current COVID19 outbreak, the NSWCCL has serious concerns about the privacy of individuals' data.
In WA, police have already accessed contact tracing data during criminal investigations on two occasions, prompting the WA Government to urgently pass legislation ensuring that contact tracing information can only be used and disclosed for contact tracing and related purposes.
Meanwhile, The Victorian and Queensland state governments have confirmed the police can access data from their respective COVID-19 QR code check-in apps with a warrant. In fact, the Queensland police have already done so.
The NSWCCL calls on the NSW Government to enact laws to ensure that data provided for contact tracing can't be used for anything else.
More information: read our public statement
The Guardian: The disproportionate policing of lower socio-economic areas that historically have a strained relationship with police is not the answer to a health crisis, NSWCCL Vice President Lydia Shelly.
For more: read the full article in the Guardian
Nearly 18 months after the 'Ice' Inquiry recommended decriminalisation, diversion, and a whole-of-government approach, the NSW Government's Final Response is missing in action.
Meanwhile, community support for a health and education based approach is growing: the 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey showed that 57% of Australians supported pill testing, while the most common action supported for people in possession of drugs including amphetamines was ‘referral to treatment or an education program’.
The NSWCCL urges the Government to publish its Final Response as a matter of urgency and to reconsider its opposition to measures that focus on health outcomes. It is time to fundamentally rethink our current approach to drug policy to better reflect our society’s values and expectations. We need an evidence- based approach that prioritises health and education and supports, rather than stigmatising, those affected by drug use.
For more: read our letter to the NSW Attorney General
Refugee Week 2021: Australia is watching the unfolding fate of the Biloela family, leading us to reflect on the harm that our Government has caused - and continues to cause - to vulnerable people.
Ironically, refugee week began in Australia in 1986 before spreading to other countries. Fast forward 35 years and we have the dubious distinction of years of international condemnation for our illegal detention of asylum seekers and refugees.
Compounding this, we routinely separate families; our family reunification processes have been labelled 'discriminatory' by the UN; and advocates say refugees are being overlooked in our vaccine rollout.Read more
A Senate inquiry, which started in February, is examining the processing of family and partner reunion visas over concerns the system is being plagued by lengthy waiting times and exorbitant costs.
In a submission to this inquiry, The UNHCR slammed Australia and specifically pointed to the disproportionate impact of these challenges on refugees trying to bring family into Australia.Read more
The ABC's Ursula Malone examines why nobody in America was arrested as part of Operation Ironside - a global sting known as "Trojan Horse" that brought down hundreds of alleged Australian criminals.
'The FBI — with help from Australia and an unnamed third country — was spying on millions of messages in over 90 countries as part of the operation. The AFP made more than 500 arrests but US privacy laws stopped the same from happening there.'
NSW President Pauline Wright commented that the US had 'pretty strict protections around human rights and privacy' which Australia did not have.
'It illustrates that Australia is an outlier in terms of protections for human rights and civil liberties,' she said. 'It's good that we're able to disrupt organised crime but in doing so what we are really concerned about is that innocent parties' data could be obtained, stored and used in ways that they would never have foreseen.'
For more, read the full article: Why no-one in America was arrested as part of Operation Ironside
When democracy works, government decisions are made in the best interests of people, the planet and future generations. But right now that's not happening in Australia.
Our democracy is ailing: corporate interests are unfairly distorting democratic processes to win outcomes that put their profits ahead of our wellbeing.
We need to fix this. We need new rules and oversight to reset our democracy.Read more
Nominations are now open for the NSWCCL annual awards, with two new awards adding to our established journalism awards: the NSWCCL activist of the year and the Kafka award.Read more
A new Direction from the Minister for Immigration, governing how decision-makers must approach visa refusal and cancellation, creates serious risks for vulnerable people. Refugees could see their visas cancelled relying on Family Violence Orders that are then found to be unsubstantiated; minor children are at risk of being separated from their parents; and survivors of family violence may be deterred from seeking assistance.
The NSWCCL calls for the immediate replacement of Direction 90.Read more