A new rights-eroding law would increase the reach of police and spooks into our lives at the expense of our withering rights, says author Paul Gregoire writing for Sydney Criminal Lawyers. The Frankenstein legislation would enable five-ways open slather access to all phone calls, emails, data and even metadata.
Ausralia’s statutory privacy watchdog, the OAIC, is taking Facebook to the Federal Court over alleged breaches of the privacy of 311,000 Australians…who may be just the tip of the iceberg. The case alleges Facebook has broken Australian law by harvesting personal data without fully revealing what the company was doing, and not protecting personal data properly.
People are trusting their politicians less than ever, a long-running ANU election study shows. As trust ebbs away, politicians’ promises are becoming worthless. Before the next federal election, any party that wants to restore the people’s faith should provide evidence they will introduce two things: an integrity body with teeth to counter political cheating and rorts, and a guarantee of freedoms/liberties for citizens in an Act of Parliament to safeguard the rights of Australians, particularly the powerless, to a fair go from the federal government, its departments, agencies and bureaucrats.
The prognosis for positive progress in 2020 is not good. The government has lined up its divisive Religious Freedoms to wedge society, even as one ambitious Minister has a plan ready to unleash vigilantes throughout Australia. Elsewhere, governments fail to tackle the scandal of Aboriginal detention while police publicly protect themselves wearing heavy ’terrorist’ body armour even as increasing numbers of defenceless women die because our “law and order” forces will not prioritise domestic violence. We need proper balance returned to society, through equitable funding and resource allocation.
Other items in this issue:
- SIC – parliament’s worst committee – strikes again
- Whistleblowers need help: one opts for crowd funding
- Military defends Australia by videos, photos and media releases
- ‘Nearer My Trump To Thee’ as our nation is led into supine position
- Facial recognition gadgetry ramifications are getting worse
- Is ‘pushing, poking stirring up’ a legitimate police tactic?
- Court says Australia’s action is unlawful
- Trump approves landmines…again
- LA eliminates marijuana convictions
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…