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.
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 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.
Governments tend to write laws for the ‘big end of town’. Queensland is proposing new electoral laws which are likely to silence charities and community groups. The government should re-draft the proposed laws to ensure struggletowners have as much right to be heard as mining magnates and corporations. Constitutional law expert, Prof Anne Twomey, explains.
So secret was the trial and jailing of the ACT’s mystery prisoner that even the territory’s Minister for Corrections, who is also Minister for Justice, did not know about the case until the story broke in the media. Minister Shane Rattenbury still does not know on what grounds he locked up a prisoner for 18 months: he doesn’t know what the prisoner was charged with, or what the prisoner was convicted of. CLA poses some questions to Commonwealth authorities, including Supreme Courts.
The Tasmanian government is having another crack at introducing Australia’s worst – and most expensive, for citizens – anti-protest laws. The High Court threw out their first attempt. Now an ‘openly deceptive’ government is trying to sneak in laws which would instantly turn minor peaceful protest almost anywhere in Tasmania into a major crime. You can sign the e-petition.
For all its rhetoric, the Tasmanian government in practice does not enable citizen and media freedom, secretly surveils its citizens, and refuses to properly fund, staff and facilitate Right To Information processes. MPs should shed their party blinkers and stand up for the people, against myopic Ministers and secretive bureaucrats.
The ongoing, unjustifiable and petty legal action against Witness K, formerly of ASIS, and lawyer Bernard Collaery demand that the government holds a public inquiry into Australia’as negotiations over the Timor Gap oil treaty 15 years ago, just as the question of freedom of the press to report becomes top of mind. Both issues call into question the continuing, and increasing, dominance of the Executive over the Parliament in what is meant to be a balanced democracy.
In an extension of the perfidy that passes for “security measures”, Minister Dutton is again bent on spying and prying into your and my private affairs with the aid of a thoroughly devalued US Administration accused of corrupt international requests. It is well past time that the Australian Parliament had the courage to rein in the excesses of out-of-control ideologue Ministers. MPs need to stand up for our rights to privacy and the liberty of being free from Big Brother abuse.
Is it OK for Australia to bug our neighbouring countries’ negotiating teams? Who makes such decisions? Should corporate interests benefit from state surveillance and bugging? What’s is permissible under the Rule of Law (ROL) and the Rule of Morals and Ethics (RoME)? We need a Royal Commission to get to the bottom of the East Timor bugging scandal, to decide what is right and what is wrong for the future.