The 25 March NSW state election comes at a time when civil liberties in this state are under siege. Our right to protest and freedom of speech have been assaulted by both major parties with their joint support for the now infamous Roads and Crimes Legislation Amendment Bill 2022. The laws criminalise even brief obstruction of a road, train station, port or other piece of public or private infrastructure. The penalty is up to two years imprisonment and or a fine of up to $22,000. Freedom of assembly, political participation and freedom of expression should be core values and beliefs of our political leaders, instead we have leaders who are determined to shut down peaceful protest.Read more
This consultation paper, produced by the ALRC is in response to a referral from the Attorney-General
Mark Dreyfus, in November 2022, for the ALRC to review the exception provisions in the Sex
Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) and the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) that apply to religious educational
These provisions have been of concern to NSWCCL and many other community, civil liberties, human
rights and legal groups for a long time. Calls for their review are correspondingly longstanding. The
ALRC previously commenced a review of the provisions which was regrettably suspended by a
previous Government. NSWCCL commends the current Attorney-General for moving quickly to
establish this review. It is a very significant law reform initiative of great importance particularly to
children and young people, in particular, who are connected with in religious educational institutions.
The Guardian: AI Can Fool Voice Recognition Used to Verify Identity by Centrelink and Australian Tax Office
An investigation by the Guardian Australia has made a startling discovery that AI can fool the voice recognition technology used to verify the identity of Centrelink and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) customers.
Centrelink and the ATO both use voiceprint technology as a security measure to verify customer identities over the phone, without the need for customers to answer various security questions before they can gain access to highly sensitive personal information from their accounts.Read more
The 15 month sentence that climate activist Deanna 'Violet' Coco was given for blocking one lane of traffic on the Sydney Harbour Bridge for less than 30 minutes back in April of 2022 has been quashed.
Coco, 32, was issued with a 12 month conditional release order on Wednesday after judge Mark Williams heard that she had been initially imprisoned due to the false information that was provided by the NSW police.
She told reporters she would pursue compensation against the police after spending 13 days in prison.
“Obviously we need to continue our right to protest. Protest is such an important part of our democracy,” she said.Read more
Today in Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court activist, Violet Coco successfully appealed the unfair and harsh 15 month custodial sentence she received last December. Judge Mark Williams SC withdrew all but two of Ms Coco’s convictions and sentenced her to a 12-month conditional release order.Read more
In the lead up to the poll on 25 March, pressure is building on Premier Dominic Perrottet as the reality of the NSW anti-protest laws sinks in for the broader New South Wales community. NSW Police reportedly told organisers of the weekend’s Sydney International Women's Day March, the School Strike for Climate last week and the organisers of the 2023 May Day Rally that they could not hold these community-based actions in front of Sydney Town Hall if the number of people exceed 2,000 - an arbitrary number that has no legislative or policy basis.Read more
NSW civil society was appalled when Violet Coco received a 15 month prision sentence in respose to her taking part in a Fireproof Australia action that blocked one lane of the Sydney Harbour Bridge for 25 mins.
During the hearing, NSW police argued that Coco and the three other Fireproof Australia activists conducting the nonviolent direct action had blocked an ambulance trying to get across this bridge with its lights and sirens on responding to an emergency which had been one of the main arguments against these road-blocking protests.
This allegation has since been redrawn by the NSW police, which prompted NSWCCL president Josh Pallas to release a media statement.Read more
Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus says incarceration rates and deaths in custody of Indigenous Australians are a national shame but stopped short of backing Aboriginal senator Pat Dodson’s calls for immediate action on 30-year-old royal commission recommendations, SMH's Lisa Visentin and James Massola report.
In Dodson's powerful intervention, calling out the inaction of successive governments, he said the the Albanese government has an obligation to act on the findings of the royal commission and make sure that people taken into custody have the care that they need.Read more
Today in Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court protesters, Alan Glover and Karen Fitz-Gibbon, were sentenced on pleas of guilty to charges arising from blocking one lane of the Sydney Harbour Bridge for about 30 minutes in April of 2022. This afternoon, both received 18 month Community Correction Orders with a fine of $3000 each.
The police’s initial allegation that the protest blocked an ambulance with its sirens on was withdrawn in court. That allegation contributed to the Court decisions last year to impose harsh bail conditions and previously unheard of custodial sentences for non-violent, peaceful protesters who were co-defendants of the people sentenced today.
Magistrate Daniel Riess noted that ‘Violet’ Deanna Coco and Jay Larbalestier has both been sentenced of the “false ambulance assertion” and that “no emergency vehicles were obstructed”. The police have now withdrawn the allegation that the protest hindered any ambulance.Read more
Today NSWCCL President, Josh Pallas wrote to University of Sydney Vice Chancellor, Professor Mark Scott to urge Professor Scott to reconsider the reported suspension of two students, Maddie Clarke and Deaglan Godwin, who protested at a University of Sydney University Law Student’s Society event in September 2022.
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) considers the reported half-year suspensions of these two students to be excessive and disproportionate. We asked USYD to immediately reverse these suspensions.
Student protests against invited speakers on campus have a long history and occur in the spirit of academic freedom and the free flow of ideas in educational institutions. Such speeches and student protests are often controversial but are essential to the interplay between university management and the student body within a community which is meant to foster free thought and thinking.
Prominent members of our society, including the current Prime Minister of Australia, participated as students in disruptive protests on campus.Read more