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:

  • Ex-ICAC man calls government integrity proposal ‘a joke’
  • The other side of Diggerdom revealed
  • AG’s Department needs auditing over legal obligations
  • ABC asks AFP: Call off the hounds
  • WA acquittal: did police plant ‘evidence’?
  • Jail release program continues to be urgent
  • USA confirms terrorism is no longer main threat
  • Another tin-pot republic on verge of collapse?
  • Parliament passes wrong Bill

Click for SINGLE COLUMN (read on screen)

Click for 2-COLUMN (print, read over a break)

May 2020 CLArion newsletter: Trust emerges as even stronger factor in which politicians and parties we’re prepared to put our faith in next time around

With the immediate emergency fading, thoughts turn to what we need restoring first: personal freedoms (our civil liberties) back is No 1, just to walk on a beach, take a drive, go interstate. Then comes democracy: parliaments sitting again to schedule. We need to learn the lessons of this time for for next time. Is the ‘National Cabinet’ appropriate? Is it just PR spin and collective avoidance of responsibility? It’s not constitutional, so entrenching an NC means legislating in every parliament. That would open a bag of states’ rights and responsibilities worms sure to engender passionate debate about whether we can trust politicians to not dispense arbitrarily with our freedoms at a moment’s notice…like this time around.

April 2020 CLArion newsletter: Governments impinge on liberties, freedoms as Covid-19 lockdowns become more widespread, individual and draconian

As the health crisis stretches into months, governments are becoming more authoritarian by the week. Police and military enforcement squads are on the streets. The open air freedom of beaches is denied citizens. People are copping large fines for walking together and talking to each other. From full support for emergency crackdown measures, governments risk alienating the citizenry if their exercise of power becomes unbalanced and out-of-kilter with people’s sense of a fair go. Whatever occurs over the next few months, it is obviously time for a total overhaul of the rights and liberties, the personal freedoms, of Australians. Covid-19 is showing how much we need a national Human Rights Act.Arion.pdf”>Click for 2-COLUMN (print, read over a break)

March 2020 CLArion newsletter: Year of change is likely as politicians battle over personal power ‘without wisdom, lacking moral compass’

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.

February 2020 CLArion newsletter: Integrity Commission must have teeth; praise for ANAO; decisive leadership needed

Bushfire hesitancy, climate change uncertainty and sports rorts chicanery are indicators that national leadership and management is sub-optimal as Australia faces major issues from the start of the 2020s. The problem is exacerbated in the areas of civil liberties and human rights, because they rank lowly on the list of what politicians concern themselves about. Australia needs to swap the majority of its pollies for statesmen and stateswomen, people who can identify – and will take the lead on – addressing the fundamental problems and opportunities to build Australia into a fairer society and a better nation.

January 2020 CLArion newsletter: CLA helps chalk up rare win as initiatives begin on prisons, press freedom, whistleblowers 

A former Chief Justice dropped a ‘bombshell’ when his year-long inquiry in WA found criminal assets-seizing laws were “largely unconcerned whether confiscation is fair or just’. CLA has campaigned against the laws for about 15 years. Similar laws elsewhere should also end, as should a cosy new scheme where governments divide up their jointly ill-gotten proceeds stemming from bad law. In 2020, new campaigns will try to to end senseless, arbitrary censorship inside prisons and make ‘law and order’ elections less popular, while the main law reform body will focus on financial services, defamation, press freedom and whistleblowers.

  • AGs’ work program includes tackling betting in sport
  •  Reforms planned for enduring power of attorney
  •  Committee wants to give Minister Dutton more power
  •  ‘Christian conservatives have never had it so good’: Patten
  •  ‘Tax is a symptom of mental health prejudice’: member letter
  •  Who ‘owns’ the law? DNA can be two-faced

Click for SINGLE COLUMN (read on screen)
Click for 2-COLUMN (print, read over a break)

Dec 2019 CLArion newsletter: ASIO spins and leaks as Australia is confirmed as turning into a police-security state

Supposed ’secret’ agents pick up a megaphone to leak news which suits their world view, then dumb politicians jump on to the bandwagon created from gossamer ‘facts’. Welcome to the new police-security state that Australia is becoming. We’re losing liberties and freedoms because Ministers and Parliament no longer safeguard people’s human rights. Instead, doyens of the nation’s academia and law say, they legislate ‘poorly and over-broadly’ – besotted by terrorism – when a much greater danger is domestic violence, for example. A Bill of Rights is just one fundamental needed to restore balance in our society.

Nov 2019 CLArion newsletter: At last, the tide of repressive laws appears to have turned – now for rebalancing liberties

The first glimmers of light have emerged for and end to draconian anti-terror laws, and a concerted community push to ensure freedom of the press. A parliamentary committee has sent a bill back for re-drafting. Rallies throughout Australia, backed by civil liberties, human rights and lawyer groups, are highlighting how perverse is the government’s continuing persecution of Witness K and Bernard Collaery. And at last a long-quiescent media has woken up to its responsibilities to safeguard all of our freedoms, including freedom of the press. We suddenly live in greater hope.

Oct 2019 CLArion newsletter: Census and new laws move us further down track of mandatory questions & duration

Little by little, those who govern the nation are conditioning the people to the concept of increasing mandatory behaviour imposed from on high. The 2021 census is being planned with new, intrusive and must-answer questions on gender, sex and personal health. At the same time, ignorant and arrogant politicians want to legislate for mandatory sentences, instead of letting the legal experts called judges do their jobs…after they have heard all claims and counter-claims.

Sept 2019 CLArion newsletter: Security forces gild lily in seeking to retain unaccountable powers to raid journos and ABC 

The spookmeisters have emerged from deep hiding to defend their over-the-top raids on the homes of journalists and the national HQ of the ABC. They’ve trotted out ghosts and hobgoblins in yet another fear-raising exercise to suit their secret aims. An MP has described Australia as a ‘pre-police state’…but we are very quickly moving past the ‘pre’ stage as recent events demonstrate.