Children’s brains have not formed until well into their teenage years, so they are not mature enough to acquire the intent for full criminal responsibility under the age 16, CLA argues in its submission to the national working group preparing advice for all Attorneys-General on the age of criminal responsibility. CLA also believes that no child under 16 should be detained in a jail-like setting, and mandatory sentencing should be abandoned by all jurisdictions for children under 16.
The governments’ proposed Religious Freedom laws would legitimise discrimination in the name of religion, undermine states’ rights, discriminate against non-believers, and generally make employment provisions in the health and education sector a minefield for anyone other than highly-qualified lawyers. As well, the laws would further entrench tax breaks for organisations that don’t provide the services to earn them. The government can do much better: a fundamental redrafting of the proposals is needed, CLA says.
The Queensland Productivity Commission has delivered its seminal report on the state of jails in that state but in reality standing for all Australian jails. Their recommendations provide a blueprint for saving taxpayers money, ending a massive jail-building program over the next decade, and seriously reducing the number of people in prison. Will our fearful governments have the courage to take positive action to achieve a better system delivering better justice?
For all those politicians (and the media) who posture at being “tough on crime” and who bring in mandatory sentences to appear to be “smart” legislators telling magistrates and judges how to make decisions and pass sentences, hear this plea from a real live criminal lawyer dealing with the consequences of such irresponsible political action in the Northern Territory…
In our traditional letters on Australia Day, Civil Liberties Australia has in 2020 asked all Attorneys-Generals throughout Australia to get rid of mandatory sentencing laws, backing up calls from the International Commission of Jurists Australia and the Law Council of Australia. CLA has also asked the ACT A-G to inquire into what went wrong with the 30-year saga of the David Eastman police investigation, prosecution and trials, which cost the tiny territory about $40m, including $7m compensation for Eastman recently.
Some academics are warning that surveillance systems mushrooming in Australia’s major cities are more than just police aids to fight crime: they are actually community management mechanisms designed to re-exert a form of colonial era control. Here’s what they say about new systems in Darwin and the NT.
Governments tend to write laws for the ‘big end of town’. Queensland is proposing new electoral laws which are likely to silence charities and community groups. The government should re-draft the proposed laws to ensure struggletowners have as much right to be heard as mining magnates and corporations. Constitutional law expert, Prof Anne Twomey, explains.
Bushfire hesitancy, climate change uncertainty and sports rorts chicanery are indicators that national leadership and management is sub-optimal as Australia faces major issues from the start of the 2020s. The problem is exacerbated in the areas of civil liberties and human rights, because they rank lowly on the list of what politicians concern themselves about. Australia needs to swap the majority of its pollies for statesmen and stateswomen, people who can identify – and will take the lead on – addressing the fundamental problems and opportunities to build Australia into a fairer society and a better nation.
Other items in this issue:
- Secret decisions are always poorer
- Mental health services continue to spiral down
- Facial recognition becomes commonplace, and cautionary tale
- Bon Sco-mots emerge from the Canberra bubble
- Private prison demise is opportunity for re-training staff
- No Re-Presidentation without Taxation?
- Indian government rules and divides
- ‘Police’ are dogs…and a photo proves it
- Woman ruled lewd for being topless while plastering