NSWCCL considers the introduction of secular Ethics Classes as an alternative to Special Religious Education (SRE) classes in 2010 to have been an important reform, going some way towards providing parents and children in public schools with long denied, secular options to faith based SRE classes. We are therefore, strongly opposed to the Education Amendment (Ethics Classes Repeal) Bill 2011. It aims to reverse this reform and reinstate the discriminatory denial of any alternative educational activity for children choosing not to attend faith based SRE classes: a truly anomalous denial of rights in public schools which are otherwise required by legislation to provide ‘strictly non-sectarian and secular instruction.
NSWCCL supports the passage of the Migration Amendment (Removal of Mandatory Minimum Penalties) Bill 2012. In removing mandatory minimum sentencing provisions in relation to certain people smuggling offences, the Bill redresses a situation which has been incompatible with long held principles of justice which are the foundation of our system of jurisprudence.
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (CCL) applauds the Government’s reactivation of the discussion on the obvious and pressing need for more effective protections for personal privacy in Australia. The current Issues Paper is sensibly drawn from the findings of the three LRC reviews and largely directs our attention to the matters of detail that need to be resolved to allow legislation to be drafted and enacted.
NSWCCL has made a submission in relation to the Inquiry into the Deterring People Smuggling Bill 2011.
We object to the attempt made in the bill to retroactively criminalise the behaviour of so- called people smugglers. People are entitled to certainty about what the law requires of them; but retrospective laws are arbitrary, and deny them that certainty. Imposing criminal sanctions on people for doing what was legal when they did it is necessarily unjust.
There also appears to be a discrepancy between the perception of assisting refugees to arrive by boat (of which safety is a concern), compared to by air (often considered ok).
Refugees are often fleeing persecution or undesirable circumstances and are subsequently highly motivated to 'move on'. Those who assist them should not be demonised on that account.
Submission: Australian Law Reform Commission Discussion Paper, released as part of its inquiry into the national classification scheme
The purposes of classification have been to determine under what circumstances material may be read, seen or heard, and to give advice as to who should be allowed to experience it. Where classification is refused, the effect is censorship.
Submission: Australia’s Fifth Report under the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT)
NSWCCL endorses the proposed actions contained in the CAT report, and additionally calls for special attention on the issues of the treatment of incarcerated persons with mental illness/cognitive impairment and the effects of long term immigration detention.