Freedom of Information laws are crucial to ensuring the transparency and accountability of policy and government decision making by giving Australians access to the information they need to participate fully in democratic processes.
However, systemic deficiencies in the federal FOI regime, including the existence of broad exceptions under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) and persistent underfunding of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC), have eroded the effectiveness of the FOI regime, shielding politicians from public scrutiny and undermining public confidence in the integrity of government and public institutions.Read more
Following a three year hiatus, the Meeting of Attorneys-General (MAG) has supported a proposal to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12. While the announcement was timely with Universal Children’s Day last Saturday it remains inadequate. MAG’s announcement can only be seen as an acknowledgement of the need to raise the age in order to properly respect the rights of children but does not explain the rationale for their slated proposal which will continue to see children incarcerated and punished contrary to their human rightsRead more
The recent deletion of freedom of information requests relating to Christian Porter’s ‘blind trust’ by the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources has highlighted important gaps in Australia's freedom of information regime.
Under long-standing freedom of information laws, pending requests can be deleted when a minister leaves their role, creating a loophole for scandal-plagued ministers to avoid scrutiny.Read more
NSWCCL wrote to David Shoebridge MLC to express support for his draft Children (Criminal Proceedings) Amendment (Age of Criminal Responsibility) Bill 2021.
Raising the age of criminal responsibility to fourteen years and prohibiting the exposure of all children under the age of sixteen to the detention system will fundamentally improve the rights of children in New South Wales and Australia’s compliance with its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
We have asked some questions about the draft bill to make sure it covers all bases for keeping children out of custody, but the bill would be a great step forward for children’s rights in New South Wales if it were to pass.
You can have your say about the draft bill here (link no longer available).
The Migration and Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening Information Provisions) Bill is one of the most pernicious bills ever to be presented to the Australian Parliament, which has been criticised by both the Joint Committee on Human Rights and the Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills.
Under this bill, information used by the Minister for Home Affairs to cancel a visa or to take away a person’s citizenship can be declared protected information, meaning the affected person would not be able to challenge this information.
If the bill were to be passed:
- People who have lived in Australia since infancy will be sent to countries where they know nobody and have no means of support. (This already happens).
- People will have their visas cancelled, and be put in detention, possibly for many years. (This already happens too). Yet they will not be criminals and they will have no way to answer the accusations against them.
The New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties thinks that the bill is unjust, and should never have been brought to parliament. We wrote a letter to the Crossbench Senators urging them to vote against the bill.
More Information: read our letter to the Crossbench Senators
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties wrote to the Crossbench Senators urging them to vote against the reintroduced Migration Amendment (Strengthening the Character Test) Bill.
If passed, this bill will further expand the grounds on which a person’s visa may be cancelled under section 501, especially on character grounds. This would include where a non-citizen has been convicted of a crime punishable by over two years’ imprisonment, regardless of when the person was actually sentenced to a term of imprisonment. This bill is a disproportionate response to visa holders who have committed minor crimes.
- This bill will subject people who are of no danger to society to the rigours of indefinite detention, or to being deported. Families will be split. There is no evidence that “the community” would want such outcomes.
- The bill would allow the Minister the discretion to cancel or refuse to issue a visa to a person who has been convicted of a designated offence but who may have received a very short sentence, or no sentence at all.
- The bill presupposes that careful decisions of the courts, made after proper process, input by experts and the experienced judgement of judges, are inferior to decisions made by the Minister with the aid of his Department. Sentences, after all, take account both of the seriousness of the crime and of the desirability of deterrence—both of the individual and of others. That is, they take into account the dangers to the community.
- The bill contains no exceptions for children.
- The bill ignores the processes of rehabilitation.
- A determination that a person fails the character test, depending on how it is made, means either that their visa must be, or may be, cancelled or refused. There right to merits review is available only in some cases. (The courts can only deal with errors of law.)
More information: read our letter to the Crossbench senators
It goes without saying that it's unacceptable for police officers to wear symbols associated with white supremacy on their standard issue Police uniforms.
However, over the past couple of years, our members have observed, consistent with increasingly frequent media reports, NSW Police Officers displaying symbols and icons associated with white supremacy.
Today we wrote to the Police Commissioner and Minister asking them to explain:
1) What policies and processes are in place to respond to members of the NSW Police Force who are found to be displaying symbols and icons associated with white supremacy?
2) What steps are being taken to ensure that NSW Police Force members do not hold white supremacist ideologies, participate in white supremacist groups or display their symbols or icons?
More information: read our letter
(The photos sent with our letter showed identifying details of the officers in question - you can see cropped versions on the right of this page).
We're looking at doing more work around displays of white supremacy and NSW Police as a result of recent complaints, so please get in touch if you have examples or stories that you could share: [email protected]
According to an ABC report, people who have tested positive for COVID are being forced to stay inside their homes for weeks longer than the typical 14-day isolation period because of delays in paperwork, according to a member of a NSW public health call centre in a Sydney hotspot.
We wrote to Health Minister Brad Hazzard about this and our concerns about vaccine passports.
More information: Read our letter to the Health Minister