Pollies talk, Queensland Acts

Australia may be about to get its third – and best – Human Rights Act, comments Prof George Williams on the tabling in the Queensland Parliament of a proposed law to strengthen protection for 23 basic rights in the state. The new law, with its easier complaint resolution mechanism, would help shift power from government agencies to the average citizen, he says.

Dutton consultation is a sham, says civil society

Parts of civil society are actively rebelling against a ‘sham’ public consultation process by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton that looks set to lead to a new Australia Card proposal or something very similar. Mr Dutton’s only public consultation meeting before pitching a new public ID and privacy system to COAG will be a 150-minute discussion on 22 October in Melbourne. The agenda is pre-determined for attendees to be spoken at, rather than being listened…and Dutton’s anti-privacy stance is well known from his very first speech to parliament.

Slaves get little reprieve from flaccid new law

Why are we are so timid over rights and freedoms, but so over-zealous when it’s repression? With refugees, we have struck upon a crude, cruel way to discourage asylum seekers. Now, a new law is taking the barest minimum steps to try to help 21stC slaves. With more slaves in the world than ever before, it was time our parliament enacted robust legislation with teeth: instead, we’re getting a Modern Slavery Act as flakey as a gummy shark.

‘Lawful but awful’ policing is problem here too

A new book that outlines the problems of policing in America over the past two decades has widespread lessons for Australia also. While Australian police don’t kill around 1000 citizens a year, the tunnel vision and confirmation bias attitudes, coupled with the propensity to lie because of twisted mateship, are exactly mirrored in Australia. As are problems stemming from excessive powers and secret linkages between federal police and  security bodies and state police.

Fight for your privacy when shopping by cash

Do shop assistants demand your personal details when you are paying by cash? Just before Christmas 2017, I attempted to make three rather minor purchases – in Myer, Harvey Norman, and The Good Guys. All the items were small and portable and I was paying cash. In all three cases, the shop assistants refused to proceed with the sale unless I handed over personal details – name, address, phone number, and email address. In the case of Myer, much more was demanded (for the purchase of a cup and saucer!).

Freedom of religion is not carte blanche to ignore laws

The expert panel inquiring into religious freedom should be very clear exactly what ‘freedom of religion’ means in Australia, CLA says in its inquiry submission. The notion includes the rights of atheists, no mandating of ‘religiosity’ in schools, and no promoting of religion by the state. We should also have protections as constant benchmark comparators, such as those contained in the Bill of Rights Australians should have to protect ongoing individual freedom of choice.