High Court makes children pawns in police-justice tug of war

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.

Govt’s latest gift: new laws further eroding our civil liberties    

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 …

December 2018: Politicians concentrate on fear-raising activities as police and security agencies escape close scrutiny and control

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

Drug prohibition causes the harm

When people die or serve years in jail because they took drugs, there’s one group for whom the suffering never ends, the parents. Here reporter Paul Gregoire explores what one often-overlooked group, the Parents and Friends of Drug Law Reform, believe is the way forward to reducing deaths and ameliorate the consequences and suffering of the health problem that is the taking of drugs in our society. An overdose of alcohol is a disease, cancer from an overdose of sun is a disease, consuming tobacco is treated as a health problem, why is taking drugs not treated similarly?

Free speech v hate speech

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.

Armistice Day…or, making the world safe for Big Oil

As the armaments boosters and those turning a Nelsonian eye to the futility of it all ‘celebrate’ the ‘glorious dead’ of the Great War and its Armistice Day of more than 100 years ago, socialist historian Humphrey McQueen puts a different slant on what he says really happened a century ago in the power play to control the world’s major enabler of production. His analysis explains why the ‘war that never really ended’ still girdles the Middle East today.

Restricting one’s speech curbs all of us

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.

Pollies talk, Queensland Acts

Australia may be about to get its third – and best – Human Rights Act, comments Prof George Williams on the tabling in the Queensland Parliament of a proposed law to strengthen protection for 23 basic rights in the state. The new law, with its easier complaint resolution mechanism, would help shift power from government agencies to the average citizen, he says.

November 2018: Aged Care RC must consider liberties/rights of elderly; Dutton makes surreptitious move towards national ID scheme

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

How we can control our borders, the proper way

Long-time government adviser on refugees and detention, retired Air Vice Marshall Ray Funnell, is calling on both major sides of politics to come clean with citizens and admit that we have effectively stopped the boats: we should immediately partner with Indonesia on future-based solutions to regional refugee challenges, he believes. AVM Funnell appeals for an end to the political deceit, dissembling and outright lying that casts a shadow politicians’ debates on the refugee/detention issue

Dutton & Home Affairs conduct sham, pre-ordained ‘consultation’

Minister Peter Dutton is conducting a sham ‘consultation’ after which he will determine “arrangements that govern the protection and management of identity information”. In other words, a man on record 16 years ago as demanding wholesale sharing of personal information across police, security and all government bodies is about to decide whether we get a national ‘Australia Card’ ID system or similar open-slather access to your private information. CLA’s submission says he’s the wrong man, it’s the wrong department, and any inquiry into personal ID rules should be run with equal numbers of rights, liberties and IT gurus as part of a balanced review panel.