Media coverage: Brisbane Times
The Morrison government is under pressure from within to increase the caps on the number of Australians allowed back into the country after Emirates abruptly suspended flights and cut off a major option for stranded travellers trying to get home.
Stephen Blanks, a spokesman for the NSW Council of Civil Liberties, said it was extraordinary that Australian citizens were unable to return to Australia because of quotas on the number of arrivals.
"The quotas have been set at a level where Australian citizens are left in distressing situations," he said. "There should be a scheme for ameliorating the hardship that Australian citizens face overseas as a result of this government policy."
On 18 December 2020, the Auditor-General for New South Wales, Margaret Crawford, released a report criticising the effectiveness of Service NSW’s handling of customers’ personal information to ensure privacy. NSWCCL has long held concerns over the manner of the use, collection, and storage of personal information of NSW citizens by the NSW government. The damning report highlights the lack of understanding and commitment to proper privacy practices in the NSW public service.Read more
Media coverage: Daily Mail
'Heavy-handed fines should be reserved for people who deliberately, flagrantly
and dangerously flout the rules, not for people who are confused and make
an innocent mistake.'
- NSWCCL Spokesperson Stephen Blanks
A young couple accused of 'fleeing' quarantine at Melbourne Airport on New Year's Day could sue Victoria's Health Minister for defamation if found innocent, experts claim.
The couple, from Goulburn in NSW, have apologised for leaving the airport but said they had a green zone permit and made an innocent mistake due to the confusion caused by the rapidly changing regulations.
Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said on Saturday that the pair would each be fined at least $19,000 for breaching Victoria's public health state of emergency.
But both Victoria Police and Victoria's Department of Health and Human Services confirmed to Daily Mail Australia that their organisations were still investigating.
NSW Council for Civil Liberties spokesman Stephen Blanks said the pair may have an action for defamation when outed as being guilty despite ongoing investigations.
'Government ministers need to be careful to ensure not to accuse people of being guilty until all the relevant investigations have been carried out,' he told Daily Mail Australia on Sunday.
Mr Blanks said while it was possible Victoria could issue the pair on-the-spot fines, they still have the right to go to the courts and dispute the alleged offense - and that right had to be respected.
He said heavy-handed fines should be reserved for people who deliberately, flagrantly and dangerously flout the rules, not for people who are confused and make an innocent mistake.
'When these rules change day-by-day as they are at the moment, it's very onerous for people to know what they are and aren't allowed to do,' he said.
'The objective here is to generate community compliance with the orders and criminalise people with heavy fines who may well have made an innocent mistake - if they made a mistake at all.
'It doesn't create the right environment in the community to create co-operation and compliance.'
The Law Enforcement Conduct Commission furnished its report: Inquiry into NSW Police Force strip search practices to Parliament on Tuesday 15th December, 2020.
It is the final report in the Commission’s ongoing inquiry into police strip search practices. The Inquiry represents a significant body of work, comprising a total of seven investigations, as well as analysis of NSW Police Force policies and training, and oversight of police investigations of complaints about strip searches.
Senate committee calls on Parliament and government to remove barriers to oversight of emergency-related delegated legislation
The Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Delegated Legislation has today tabled the interim report of its ongoing inquiry into the exemption of delegated legislation from parliamentary oversight, repeatedly referencing the NSW Council for Civil Liberties submission.
The interim report makes 18 recommendations to government and the Parliament to address systemic barriers to parliamentary oversight of delegated legislation made in times of emergency.Read more
NSWCCL wrote to ALP and Cross-bench Senators regarding the increase in filing fees in the Federal Circuit Court for migration-related matters. The fee will rise from $690.00 to $3,300.00. NSWCCL urged Senators to vote to disallow this instrument.
1 December 2020
Federal Court and Federal Circuit Court Amendment (Fees) Regulations 2020
On October 29 this year, the Government introduced a swingeing increase in filing fees in the Federal Circuit Court for migration-related matters. The fee will rise from $690.00 to $3,300.00 on January 1 next year.
The New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties is deeply concerned by this change, as it will prevent many people from obtaining a review and reversal of unlawful, unjust, adverse decisions. It will prevent others from being able to afford legal representation too, thus lessening their chances of having mistakes exposed.Read more
Update 18 October 2021: with this legislation now listed for a second reading this week, we again wrote to all cross-bench senators reiterating our opposition to this bill and encouraging them to vote against it.
NSWCCL wrote to cross-bench Senators urging them to oppose the Strengthening the Character Test Bill.
1 December 2020
I am writing on behalf of the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties, asking you to vote against the Strengthening the Character Test Bill, when, and if, that returns to Parliament.
Despite what has been said in the Explanatory Memorandum, this bill is not about outlaw motorcycle gangs, murderers, people who commit serious assaults, sexual assault of aggravated burglary. People who are convicted of such crimes do not receive sentences of less than a year, unless their actual offences are minor—and if so, they are known not to be a danger to the community. People who receive sentences of a year or more are dealt with by the existing legislation.
Media coverage: 9News
"The Federal Government would need to regulate this to ensure that appropriate allowances are made for people who have legitimate reasons for not getting vaccinated," he said.
Those reasons could be health, religious or conscientious based, he said.'
The comments come after Qantas boss Alan Joyce told A Current Affair on Monday he foresaw a future where Australians must be COVID-19 vaccinated if they wish to board his airline's international jets.
Media coverage: 7News
Could your boss make you get the COVID-19 vaccine?
The answer is more complicated than you think.
'NSW Council for Civil Liberties spokesperson Stephen Blanks agreed the issue was a complex one.
“[It] depends on the circumstances of the employment and the employee; there is no blanket rule for everyone,” he told 7NEWS.com.au.
“There could be more justification [for a mandatory jab] for staff working in a high-risk environment who have exposure to many members of the public, but there needs to be recognition that some employees may have a legitimate reason for not having the vaccine.
“These may range from religious belief through to personal health reasons, meaning a vaccine is not appropriate,” Blanks said.'
Media coverage: The Echo
'The Drug Supply Prohibition Order Pilot Scheme Bill 2020 [NSW] was recently introduced to parliament, which if passed, would allow a police officer ‘to stop, detain and search a person… who has been convicted of a serious drug offence, without the requirement for a warrant’.
As it’s a pilot scheme, the presumption of guilt and lack of basic civil rights would apply to those living in Bankstown Police Area Command and the Coffs-Clarence, Hunter Valley and Orana Mid-Western Police Districts.
The NSW Law Society told The Guardian that if passed, it could lead to people previously convicted of lower-level drug offences being harassed by police. The NSW Council for Civil Liberties said in their submission that the 10-year period within which police can apply for an order may, ‘have the unintended impact of interfering with rehabilitation efforts’.'