CLArion April 2018: Religious freedom inquiry delayed, new CLA initiatives

Parliament committees inquiring into religious freedom in Australia as well as electoral funding and mandated disclosure by NGOs have been inundated with submissions, forcing them to report late. This issue also shows off CLA’s new T-shirt, reminds members about our new website, and reports on the 2018 AGM and selected member comments.

Report/minutes – declaration – of CLA Annual General Meeting 2018

eAGMThe formal results are in for the Civil Liberties Australia Annual General Meeting, held in 2018, covering the 2017 calendar year reporting period. The report shows about 52% of members voted, overwhelmingly positively, and most members who commented had nice things to say about how the organisation is going and the job the directors are doing.

Rescuing a persecuted minority in South Africa?

Attacking a foreigner 2015: Africa News photo

By CLA Director Jennifer Ashton*

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has rightly brought our attention to persecuted minorities in South Africa…but he has overlooked people who fit his stated criteria perfectly.

They demonstrate a work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit that would fit well with values of Australians and who have been the victims of nationwide violence against them in 2008, 2015 and 2017. Rioters attacking this group chant a revolutionary Jacob Zuma song, in this case “hand me my machine (gun)”.

Freedom of religion is not carte blanche to ignore laws

The expert panel inquiring into religious freedom should be very clear exactly what ‘freedom of religion’ means in Australia, CLA says in its inquiry submission. The notion includes the rights of atheists, no mandating of ‘religiosity’ in schools, and no promoting of religion by the state. We should also have protections as constant benchmark comparators, such as those contained in the Bill of Rights Australians should have to protect ongoing individual freedom of choice.

CLA calls on inquiry committee to protect NGOs

Civil Liberties Australia’s submission to federal parliament’s Electoral Matters inquiry has called on the committee to ensure that NGOs are safeguarded against the intrusive and punitive provisions in the first draft of the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017. The bill is negatively focused, and continues a trend to  restrict and impose burdens on democratic communication in Australia, CLA says. Why is the parliament not producing, instead, positive reforms that further enable, expand and facilitate access to democracy by Australian citizens? CLA asks.

A law unto themselves, absent model principles

Bill Rowlings* questions how ‘professional’ is the Legal Profession Board of Tasmania. It’s a quango that only recently worked out it needs to abide by model litigant principles, a decade after it was created. And it seems to particularly dislike the right of people to question, scrutinise and dissent.

It is a body which annually seeks funding approval from the Attorney-General and reports formally to the AG each year, making it a quango despite its claims of “independence”. It has 10 statutory functions. Handling complaints is the third listed, but seems to dominate its activities overwhelmingly. Educating the public is one of its activities which appears to have received a very much lower priority.

Aged care: inquiry should focus on ‘people’ not ‘consumers’

Civil Liberties Australia has taken issue with the language used in a parliamentary inquiry into the Quality of Care in Residential Aged Care Facilities in Australia. “We note that the Terms of Reference refer to ‘residents’ and ‘consumer protection’, rather than referring to ‘people’, ‘older Australians’ or ‘citizens’. In this language lies the danger of treating older Australians merely as “profit units” for an industry portrayed in the public perception as ‘caring’, because of its links to churches and the like, but which is in truth as hard-nosed and bottom line-driven as any other, “ CLA has told the inquiry. Click for CLA’s submission