CLArion March 2024: Forensics & genetics under closer scrutiny

By the end of the month, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus should have in his hands the report of the special parliament committee which has inquired into Australia’s human rights framework for the past year. As that happens, rights related to forensic quality and how genetic testing can be used against us are coming to the fore. The Defence Department is trying for the second time in a decade to restrict and control the communication rights of research scientists. And, in a fascinating twist, the High Court will soon be asked to consider whether missing parts turn a body into something else, legally.

Other items in March include:

  • NT tries to tackle youth justice in new ways
  • On remand prisoners hit record high
  • High-flying Ombudsman racks up the bills
  • Ministerial caring drops in juvenile, female and male prisons as heat rises
  • Allegedly ‘talented’ judges are a bit slow when it comes to workload
  • Asking the wrong question about Indigenous prison rates
  • Old lags seek help from the law
  • Kiwis first CCRC decision handed down
  • Honk if you’re in the right
  • Judges run a skimming scam

Fair Go: Human Rights right around Australia

How close is Australia to having Human Rights Acts nationwide? Here’s a rundown by CLA President Dr Kristine Klugman. Her status report comes just as the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights is about to recommend a new federal framework for Australia’s national human rights regime. But all states and territories have active groups working to improve citizens’ access to a fair go in their own bailiwick.

CLArion Feb 2024: Human Rights report near finalised, ready

February is a key month for human rights in Australia. Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights is finalising its report and recommendations after a year-long inquiry into the nation’s human rights framework. Chair Josh Burns is due to hand the blueprint for the future to the Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus, by the end of March. Many issues in this CLArion will be top of mind as this report changes hands. They include treatment of Indigenous Australians, forensic disasters in laboratories and courtrooms, secrecy across government, and questionable cultures like those permeating police forces and others breeding in newly-emerging far-right groups. The crucial issue of homelessness is also likely to feature strongly.

Bike-riding equation comes out negative?

Much-ballyhoed bike ’safety’ claims look somewhat different when subjected to a ‘whole-of-life(style)’ analysis by dedicated research Colin Clarke.  Do helmets lead to immobility and obesity, at a greater cost to public health than accepting accidents will happen whenever you poke your nose into the great outdoors? Why have $15 fines become $240 (when they should be about $35) and become a new way for police abuse by selecting poor citizens for harassment?

CLArion JANUARY 2024: Human Rights come into closer focus

Throughout Australia, politicians and advocates are increasingly acknowledging that embedded core values and standards are the bedrock of our society’s now and future well-being and prosperity. They drive trust and respect for each other and for our institutions, without which we disintegrate into disaffected camps focused selfishly, rather than on common challenges and the public good in times of stress. In other nations, these fundamental principles stand on the pillars of federal and state/territory human rights Acts. There are significant signs in this issue of the CLArion that Australia is headed in a firmly positive direction over the coming years towards a better and more rightful future for all of us.

CLArion Dec 2023: Big year ahead for elections

Elections throughout Australia will loom large in 2024, with four or even five possible. Their combined effect could alter the rigid two-party hegemony over the nation that has lasted across a century. Meanwhile federally, thinking politicians, advisers and academics realise that active steps are needed to restore integrity in the bureaucracy and people’s faith and trust in government. With doubts in the justice system about whether forensic science is delivering on its past promise, and whether the legal profession plays by the rules in courts, we’re in for bumpy ride in 2024.

CLArion Nov 2023: CLA outlines Rights/Remedy imperative

CLA explained in detail in October to the parliamentary inquiry into rights precisely why Australia needed to create a national Human Rights Act, to achieve a ‘Fair Go’ for everybody and to help rebuild social capital and expand the national integrity network after years of significant stress. In examples of failed moral codes, the nation is paying Indonesian boat kids for our falsely classifying them as adults, just as Australia begins a new round of renditioning – kidnapping – asylum seeks to Nauru.

CLArion Oct 2023: Rights-Remedy law about to pass

The first No Rights Without Remedy clauses in a Human Rights Act in Australia will soon become law. Anyone ACT resident who has a complaint about their rights being breached will be able to take a case for conciliation to the ACT Human Rights Commission. The breakthrough is establishing a model for a future national HR Act. Meanwhile (Walter) Sofronoff inquiries continue to dominate legal headlines: accusations of a missed core issue blight the Queensland forensics inquiry, while the former DPP suing over Sofronoff findings in the ACT will see a judge imported from Victoria to wrestle with some curly legal niceties…or un-niceties. 

New law provides remedy to fix rights breaches

An amended Human Rights Act for the Australian Capital Territory, tabled in September 2023, contains nation-leading clauses to ensure ’No Rights Without Remedy’ can become a model for a possible federal Human Rights Act in future. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of Australia’s first HR Act, the nation’s first Human Rights Minister, Tara Cheyne, has introduced changes in the ACT so that citizens from 2024 can seek formal conciliation if there is an alleged breach of their rights by the bureaucracy, which has a positive duty whenever possible to act consistently with human rights.  She also praised CLA and Chris Stamford for our work in helping to make positive change happen,