At last, courts in Australia are starting to embrace the IT technology that can open up the mysteries of the law to the average person. The WA Supreme Court is leading the way by live-streaming a case involving bushfires from 16 July 2018 at 10am. Pity the innovative WA Chief Justice, Wayne Martin, will retire from the bench while the live-streaming experiment continues.
Civil Liberties Australia member and first-year ANU law student Elly McLean was pleased to be asked to be part of a CLA team appearing before a parliamentary committee inquiry. She was able to experience first-hand how laws are shaped and honed, and how groups like CLA make submissions and take part in ‘live’ hearings, which are recorded for the formal Hansard report of parliament’s proceedings. Here she gives her impressions of her first committee experience…indeed, her very first visit to the Australian Parliament.
The Supreme Court of Tasmania has ruled then-lawyer Barbara Etter should have surrendered a raft of unfiltered documents when the Legal Profession Board of Tasmania re-ignited a quenched complaint against her on the say-so of a disgruntled opponent. Etter has quit the law as a result. The LPB administers unconscionable, kangaroo-court type laws that can deprive somebody of the right to practise, earn income and advise clients – while effectively destroying their reputation – without any chance to put their side of the case before the members of the LPB.
Nauru is the never-ending nightmare for children and their parents who sought asylum in Australia in the hope of a better life. Now they are imprisoned by an ocean, with no prospect of leaving unless they take a government bribe to go back into the state of persecution they fled. Even the youngest of children face a life sentence without hope, with papers stamped ‘Never to come to Australia…no matter what’. As Australia demonstrates its inhumanity to the outside world, internally more and more commentators are warning that we are turning into a police state. Civil liberties people have been sounding the alarm for more than a decade, but now an eminent judge and a close observer of the Australian Parliament are speaking out too.
Also in this issue:
- Australia’s special troops endanger national security
- Vets’ health and mental health suffering grows
- MPs have 20 cents each way on guns
- Parliament asked to ban ‘unpleasant’ clothing
- Secular law tabled to remove religious concessions
- ‘You’re fired! Too much Trumping!’
- 100 people a day die by guns in the USA
Rob Wesley-Smith (RWS) knows the Timor Leste (East Timor) government as well as any Australian. He is personal friends with current and former Presidents and Prime Ministers of that country. He was recently awarded that nation’s highest honour, the Order of Timor Leste. He says the Australian government’s spying behaviour was unconscionable, and the current charges against lawyer Bernard Collaery and Witness K are appalling.
Australians with consciences who care about our democracy are beginning to speak out against this travesty of justice. “The Wilkie statement is now two days old: not a word from the government, the ALP, the ABC, today’s Fin Review. Is everybody running scared?” asks a former Labor MP. A major protest is being planned for the first mention of the charges in the ACT Magistrates Court on 25 July 2018. If you care about the rule of law in Australia, and stopping the process under way of Australia becoming a police state, please follow this story, and take action.
CLA Director Richard Griggs writes: It’s a very big step for our State Government to be proposing new laws to enable groups to be banned from wearing identifying badges. It’s a big step because up until now what we choose to wear has been exactly that – our choice. For our parliament to now be considering given itself the power to regulate in this area of personal choice is quite a remarkable departure from our traditional legal system
Real justice – as opposed to expensive, unproductive ‘law and order’ auctions around election times – helps the victims heal as well as punishing the perpetrators, says WA Chief Justice Wayne Martin. He gives examples of progressive justice systems being introduced throughout Australia, many of them learning from the practices that imbued Aboriginal culture over tens of decades of history in Australia. Read his Sir Ninian Stephen 2018 lecture.
Fury was the initial response on social media among Defence personnel to allegations against special forces soldiers. But as new details emerge almost daily, there’s recognition that leaders at many levels within the Australian Defence Force may have as many questions to answer as the troops. If accountability failures extend throughout the organisation, Army wife Kay Danes writes, an open and transparent Senate inquiry would be the least mechanism needed to get to the bottom of the allegedly widespread management problems in the ADF.
The attempts by collectivist public health cultists to impose their values on other citizens continue, writes Mark Jarratt*. This time it is a sugar tax, yet another relentless, paternalistic, intrusion into daily life. Adults should be left to make their own decisions: smokers, drinkers, gamblers, and consumers of ‘unapproved’ food neither need nor want overbearing, dictatorial, anti-free-choice “help”, he says.
The Big End of town receives different justice from mainstream punters. Similarly, Australia’s spooks enjoy the lightest of parliamentary supervision because a key committee is dominated by MPs whose actions, and a recent speech, clearly demonstrate they are part of the intelligence elite, instead of being disassociated, separate monitors for the community. With security agencies and police gaining ever more intrusive Identity, surveillance and detention powers, the unbalanced holding of such secret forces to account is a worry for civil liberties, rights and freedoms across Australia.
Also, read about how the Home Affairs Department, under Minister Peter Dutton, wants to introduce a facial recognition system to Australia like those with a 90%-plus failure rate in the UK. Other items include:
- Budget snippets with liberties implications that you may have missed
- Security beefed up to fight yesterday’s battle
- Why Australia needs a War Powers Act
- Honest, diligent cop compensated after 50 years
- Jailed youth are overwhelmingly ill, not evil
- Should we hold a ‘Dutton for a Day’ day?
- Chinese manipulate brainwaves to boost production
SINGLE COLUMN (read on screen)
TWO COLUMN (print, read over a break)