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.

Other items in this issue:

Porter can lift us out of these ‘sad times’

The secret trials and sentencing currently running in the Witness K and Bernard Collaery matter could – and should – be stopped instantly by the Attorney-General withdrawing his permission to prosecute. If he doesn’t the injustice of it all will forever be on his head. He has the perfect excuse: he’s too busy crafting a national integrity commission, and also getting the nation back on its commercial feet after Covid-19.

City council on horns of smoking dilemma

Melbourne City Council is facing a conundrum: should people be allowed to vape in the open air? In the current State of Restrictions,Victoria, how far can you go in banning what health authorities say is a better option than people smoking? CLA’s submission will be considered at the Submissions Committee meeting on Thursday 2 July 2020 at 3pm.