- The Review has been prompted by the sunsetting of the National Health Privacy Rules 2018, which apply to the processing and storage of Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule (PBS) claims information by Services Australia and the Department of Health. It will determine whether and how the Rules should be updated.
- NSWCCL considers that the Rules adequately protect the privacy of individuals and should not be amended. The Consultation Paper that accompanies the Review makes it clear that there is an emerging public policy approach “favouring data use and reuse in research, evidence-based decision making and the provision of government services generally.” NSWCCL does not accept that a technocratic approach to more convenient or efficient service-delivery and research policy warrants eroding the privacy safeguards in the Rules.
- Within the last 5 years public perceptions of how data should be used and shared have changed. The expectations of a majority of Australians are in favour of more privacy protections over their information, not less. The latest Government survey of Australians’ privacy concerns shows 84% of Australians consider it to be a misuse of their information when supplied to an organisation for a specific purpose and then used for another purpose.
- Public policy is served, under the Rules, by recognising that the information provided to the Department of Health and Services Australia is for the purpose of dealing with MBS and PBS claims and for no other secondary purpose. If there is any sensitive personal information provided to government that should not be used for secondary purposes, then, surely, this is that information.
The New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) welcomes the opportunity to make a submission to the NSW Legislative Council Regulation Committee Inquiry into Environmental Planning Instruments (SEPPs).
NSWCCL makes this submission for a number of key reasons:
a. To ensure that adequate safeguards are in place for the creation of SEPPs in recognition that parliament is the supreme law making body in the state;
b. In recognition that the climate change poses a significant and increasing threat to the ability for citizens’ and others residents’ civil liberties and human rights, and that any decisions made which concern the environment should be appreciative of the adverse effects of climate change; and,
c. In recognition that First Nations communities voices should be recognised and afforded significant weight in the development of environmental and planning policy.Read more
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) welcomes the opportunity to make a submission to the Department of Customer Service in relation to the Review of the NSW Data Sharing (Government Sector) Act 2015.
Submission: Data Availability and Transparency Bill 2020 [Provisions] and Data Availability and Transparency (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2020
NSWCCL made a submission to the Senate Finance and Public Administration Committees Inquiry into the Data Availability and Transparency Bill 2020 [Provisions] and Data Availability and Transparency (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2020 [Provisions].
In our view, this Bill is fundamentally flawed and violates community expectations of how private personal information is treated.
NSWCCL made a Submission to this Inquiry.
- The New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) welcomes the opportunity to make a submission to the Education Committee concerning the Education Legislation Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill 2020 (“The Bill”).
- NSWCCL considers that the Bill should not be passed. Not a single aspect of the Bill improves upon the law as it currently stands in NSW. Moreover, the Bill is an appalling contribution to public debate and education policy in this State.
- In this submission, NSWCCL will argue that the Bill should not be passed for the following compelling reasons. The Bill:
a. is plainly bigoted, discriminatory and cruel;
b. is likely unconstitutional;
c. is injurious to fundamental human rights, including freedom of expression;
d. would harm education in NSW;
e. is unnecessary; and
f. violates the principle of coherence.
- This is a remarkable combination of defects. Residents of NSW deserve better from their lawmakers.
- We are happy to expand upon our submission if invited to provide evidence before the Committee.
Recommendation 1: NSWCCL recommends that the Committee and the NSW Parliament reject the Education Legislation Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill 2020 in its entirety.
Submission: Migration and Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening Information Provisions) Bill 2020
NSWCCL made a submission to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee Inquiry into the Migration and Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening Information Provisions) Bill 2020 [Provisions].
If passed, this bill would cripple the ability of litigants to have access to information that is critical for their cases for retaining a visa, becoming citizens or retaining their citizenship.
While it protects the constitutionally guaranteed powers of the High Court, the Federal Court and the Federal Circuit Court to know whatever information is relevant to their reviews of ministerial decisions, it would prevent other courts and other bodies from having such access. And vitally, it not only would allow what it defines as ‘Protected Information’ to be concealed from litigants and their counsel, it would allow them to be denied even the information that such information exists. In effect, only the Minister could use the information in court.
This is unacceptable. It is contrary to Australia’s international obligations. But most importantly, it is a severe intrusion on the rights of a person to a fair hearing. It overturns the basic legal principle of equality before the law.
More information: read our full submission
Update 4 September 2021:
NSWCCL is disappointed that once again Government and Opposition have caved to unnecessary additional powers demanded by law enforcement. By passing the Identify and Disrupt Bill, the two major parties have introduced an unprecedented incursion onto civil liberties, giving law enforcement agencies the power to take over, copy, alter and delete the social media and other online accounts of ordinary people without proper oversight.
While justified under the guise of fighting child sexual abuse, the powers can be used to "disrupt" a broad range of offences including minor offences and to investigate whistleblowers.
The once science fiction notion ("Minority Report') that law enforcement should have extraordinary powers with a new type of "warrant" in order to prevent possible future crimes from being committed is now a reality in Australia - the latest in a two decades long process of expanding powers of law enforcement and spy agencies.
The Identify and Disrupt Bill hands sweeping new powers to the AFP and the Australian Crime and Intelligence Commission (ACIC) to hack into the devices and networks of suspected criminals.
NSWCCL made a submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) review into the Bill, in which we argued that the Bill is a catch-all formula for abuse of power without demonstrated need or regard for proportionality.Read more
The Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) thanks the Department for Communities and Justice for its invitation to make a submission concerning the Review of Section 293 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1986.
'It is submitted that rather than providing a specific exception in relation to false complainants (as proposed by option 2) it is more desirable to consider what the principles and objectives that are sought to be achieved by this reform, rather than reactive reform in relation to a single factual scenario. Each case will bring its own unique factual issues and circumstances. Specific exceptions will often fall short of adequately dealing with the breadth of circumstances and issues of particular cases. Rather, an appropriately drafted discretion has the capacity to deal with a broader range of cases, provide protections in relation to the factors which must be taken into account and prevent piecemeal reform as other issues and factual scenarios arise in the future.'
The right to free speech and the right to openly participate in political debate are rights which must be available to all residents of NSW whether or not they are employed by the Department of Education. NSWCCL is concerned that the proposed changes to the Code of Conduct by the NSW Department of Education (the Department) has the potential to reduce the civil liberties of Departmental Employees through a restriction on their rights to communicate through personal social media channels.
In this submission the NSWCCL has chosen to concentrate on question 2 in the discussion paper:
2. Where should the department set standards in respect to recognising an employee’s choice to engage with social media but ensuring the reputation of the department and public sector?
In the opinion of the NSWCCL any standards regarding the use of social media by Departmental employees should ensure their right to free speech including the right to participate in political discourse, by not going further than absolutely necessary in limiting such rights.
The proposed social media guidelines should be restricted to matters where an employee is conducting illegal behaviour, such as committing criminal offences, through their speech. No further burden on free speech is necessary for the public interest, nor justified in this context.
NSWCCL submission to the Joint Select Committee Inquiry into the Anti-Discrimination Amendment Bill 2020 - 22 August 2020
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties [NSWCCL] considers it is very important to respond in some detail to this Joint Select Committee’s inquiry into the Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Religious Freedoms and Equality) Bill 2020 [the Bill].
The issues encompassed by this Bill – religious freedoms and protection from discrimination on the grounds of religion - are of great significance in a democracy such as ours. They are also extremely complex and potentially deeply contentious issues. Legislation on human rights must always be carefully considered and balanced, and this is especially so in relation to religious rights and protections. If all rights are not considered in a fair and balanced way the outcome is likely to be discriminatory and harmful to some groups and individuals and to over-privilege the rights of others.