July 2020 CLArion newsletter: Worst of times provide opportunity to change baseline rights for the future

As the Covid-19 pandemic restricts traditional freedoms wholesale, and the police and security community seeks even greater powers of surveillance and data control over our photos and faces, these appear to be dark times for personal liberties. But times of change also bring opportunity, Noq is the chance for all Australians who care about rights and freedoms to speak out loudly and strongly about the most basic of freedoms, like free speech and individual privacy, as well as demanding a new approach to the world of regulations which govern our everyday lives.

High Court of Australia comes a cropper

The High Court of Australia has decided, to its legal satisfaction, that there was a sexual harasser in its midst, former judge Dyson Heydon. But the court was apparently reluctant to act (it took 15 months). And has it learned the real lesson of this sorry affair, that it is judicial hubris at the High Court in general that’s the problem, not just one randy old judge. The High Court should take a long, hard look at itself…and so should the rest of Australia examine the performance, competence and protocols of one of the three arms of national governance.

Let those locked up/down breathe fresh air

We lock people in quarantine so they won’t infect anyone else. But that doesn’t mean they should lose their right to breathe fresh air. A lockdown pair explain why it’s incongruous that upper floor windows can’t be opened occasionally, or supervised walks can’t be managed n a nearby park. Criminal prisoners get more fresh air than innocent travellers.

How Parliament’s fences lock people in to danger

Camouflage green fences exude precisely the wrong symbolism for a parliament building purpose-designed to be an accessible People’s House. From one angle, the most prestigious building in the National Capital looks like a jail, with slum attached. Are we keeping the prime inmates protected, or locked away behind our own ‘Berlin Wall’? Gates and upward-rising bollards – which have hoisted Commonwealth cars skywards – are further barriers to openness, security expert Dr Tony Murney says.

Militarised guards create potential firezone with children as collateral damage

Assault-style weapons proliferate throughout the external parliamentary precinct: armed guards patrol the ricochet-rich foyer. Into this potential bullet-riddled firezone Australia’s politicians invite subsidised schoolchildren in their hundreds every day the Parliament sits. With schools and embassies (including that of China) in nearby over-shoot range, even an accidental discharge could create personal tragedy or international incident.

June 2020 CLArion newsletter: Can liberties and rights survive onslaughts from spikes of the Covid-19 pandemic?

Can liberties and rights we previously enjoyed survive the Covid-19 pandemic? Already the right to privacy has been formally legislated away in one Australian jurisdiction, while the Federal Court is under investigation for allegedly unlawfully revealing hundreds of asylum seeker names. As well, the government is blaming the pandemic for the absence of a much-needed integrity mechanism, even as courts themselves lock down behind closed doors into secret trials spreading around Australia. People’s locally-elected representatives are being by-passed as an invented executive mechanism, the National Cabinet, takes over from parliamentary democracy.  The signs are not good.

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