Court to live-stream case for the first time

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.

The Read Deal in Parliament, helping to make law

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 law defeats justice – again – in Australia’s deep south

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.

Collaery/K: Behaviour of Libs and Labs is appalling

Rob Wesley-Smith reading his own ASIO files at the National Archives in Canberra in December 2012.

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.

Look before we leap on law reform

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

Chief Justice criticises law-and-order election auctions

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.

Command failings that are defence-less

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.

Wowsers never stop stopping your freedom of choice

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.

June 2018: Spook special: how wrong choices skew political monitoring 

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)

‘Lawful but awful’ policing is problem here too

A new book that outlines the problems of policing in America over the past two decades has widespread lessons for Australia also. While Australian police don’t kill around 1000 citizens a year, the tunnel vision and confirmation bias attitudes, coupled with the propensity to lie because of twisted mateship, are exactly mirrored in Australia. As are problems stemming from excessive powers and secret linkages between federal police and  security bodies and state police.

Another price to be paid for police tunnel vision?

A B Greer is out of jail after 25 years, but there is more doubt now than there has ever been about whether he should ever have been in jail. His conviction occurred during the peak period of WA police bastardry, a time which has generated many cases of wrongful convictions. WA’s two most senior criminal barristers, Percy and McCusker, both believe in his innocence. A miscarriage of justice in which the wrong person is convicted is as much a tragedy for the victim’s family as it is for the family of the wrongfully convicted person.