One problem with law-and-order politicians is that their efforts inevitably lead to more prisons, more prisoners and more taxes paid by the very people who voted for them. It’s a bit like a two-card trick: vote for me and I’ll take more money from you. But laws are derived from all sorts of community inputs – as well as glib pollticians – and a new academic team across universities is studying how we get both good laws and bad laws.
The most surprising aspect of the High Court’s decision on the lawyer-informer case involving Victoria Police is not how much the court castigated the lawyer, or how it delivered a blistering attack on the standards and culture within Victoria Police. What no-one seems to have picked up on is how seven judges of the High Court of Australia have delivered what a lay person would call a judicial threat against the lawyer: go into VicPol’s witness protection program – against your own wishes – or you are likely to lose your children, taken from you by the State.
By Paul Gregoire* The Morrison Coalition government unleashed a swag of draconian laws in the final parliamentary sitting weeks of this year. The Defence Amendment (Call Out of the Australian Defence Force) Bill 2018 was passed on 27 November. This legislation lowered the threshold of when the government can send in …
This time around we head into the annual news silly season from Christmas through January with a federal election all but called, and parliament on tilt. There’s a real danger that politicians and security agencies will escalate campaigns and raids around terrorism as well as crime to elevate community fear levels in trying to influence voting. We may be in for a rough time as irresponsible news outlets throw big banner headlines at circumstances where mental illness is as much to blame as radicalisation.
Also in this issue:
- Australia has reversed the fundamental principle of intelligence gathering
- Breaking encryption safeguards risks creating a surveillance state
- ’They’ get it wrong again, as all charges against imprisoned student dropped
- Eastman free after 30 years…but major questions remain over justice system
- Couple finally receive compensation after being stunned by police
- Victorian election swayed by preference ‘whispering’
- UK Human Rights Act: how it ensured justice for the little guys
- Murder’s electronic echo reverberates into courtroom
Hate speech is in the ear of the listener, explained CLA Vice-President Tim Vines in delivering the Margaret Barry memorial lecture to the Inner Sydney Voice group. A key question is who society allows to determine what is and is not hate speech, because who is and is not allowed into Australia to give public lectures has demonstrated how inequitable decisions can be. Underlying the issue is the inherent right of all Australians to free speech, which is under active attack in terms of how public servants use their free time, around reading books on euthanasia, and whether there is a right to call out inappropriate behaviour by government agencies to the benefit of commercial firms.
There’s a growing and worrying national trend to curtail people’s free speech. Firms, public service bodies and the like are restricting the freedom to speak out about what concerns you. Organisations are imposing restrictions in the name of their ‘social media policy’ or to ‘protect their brand image’, CLA Director Rajan Venkataraman warns.
Aged care is the next national disgrace to get its time in the Royal Commission witness box, over the next 18 months: CLA is calling for members to tell us what freedoms needs assuring. Citizens are likely to forego traditional identity protection as Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton holds a ‘quick ’n dirty’ sham consultation to fulfil a push for open-slather exchange of personal data among spooks and government departments. The ex-Queensland cop pushed for widespread file sharing when he first entered parliament 16 years ago. Meanwhile, in health, defence, election funding and at the Australian War Memorial, forgetfulness or worse reigns when probity should be the minimum bottom line.
Also in this issue:
- Can a machine make a legal decision? The ATO thinks it can
- Groupthink rules, ex-DPP claims…and the chief judge says ‘That’s good!’
- Prisoner does quarter of a century in jail for an 18-month offence
- ID scanning in clubs? How well does it reveal villains?
- DPPs make a profit for the Crown: more staff, assets
- TI child-raising to be enshrined in law
- Beware NZ, where your password must be revealed
- Straights get equal rites