A new book revealing the doings inside a now-closed ‘mental asylum’ is an important contribution to civil liberties and human rights. It is a timely reminded – as a health panic starts to threaten more government abuse – that it is vital to keep shining torches into those places that authorities would prefer are forgotten. Review by Reg. Murray.
Other nations are already showing Australia the way on how to mass deaths in prisons: they are letting lower-range and particular prisoners free, at least for the duration of the world health emergency. It’s time the Australian states and territories did something similar…and took the opportunity to remove from prison some people who probably should not be there, CLA says.
While civil society is grating the government licence to use extraordinary powers during a medical emergency, that is no excuse to abuse people’s trust by bringing in draconian measures like over-the-top surveillance and elimination of the flimsy privacy rights we still retain, CLA says.
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.
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.