Reining in the ’national security’ secrecy claims in courts

Not very long ago, a secret prisoner was discovered quite by chance in the ACT jail (even the ACT Prisons/Justice Minister did not know he was there). The prisoner, given the pseudonym ‘Alan Johns’, was a victim of being tried in secret under “national security” legislation. The laws that enable that abuse of his rights, and the rights of all Australians to know what happens in the courts, is now under detailed scrutiny by the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor, Grant Donaldson. Here is CLA’s submission (authored by VP Rajan Venkataraman) to the process, and the separate sub of CLA member Kathryn Kelly also.

IPA extends its parliamentary influence

The Institue of Public Affairs – Australia’s prime agency of the right – has an income of about $7m a year. including $4m in donations from the big end of town. It spent in 2020 just under $7m in pushing it point of view. And did so successfully, as former employees of the IPA now dot the federal parliamentary landscape, taking up influential positions.

Aussie pollies lack Dutch courage

The Dutch tax office issued 20,000 ‘false’ claims of debt fraud against its citizens: the Dutch government resigned. The Australian government issued 470,00 ‘false’ debt claims against its citizens. No-one resigned.Australian politicians don’t even have Dutch courage.

Stop the Prosecution!

In capital cities around Australia, 9 November marked ’Stop the Prosecution!s’ day when supporters called on Australia’s Attorney-General Christian Porter to end the secret trials of Witness K from ASIS and his lawyer Bernard Collaery. Their trials – secret evidence in closed courts – are contrary to the rule of law, which the AG is supposedly the guardian of.

Does Australia need a separate Integrity Branch?

It’s useful to review old critiques when new ones emerge, particularly to see if time has changed what’s important. Here’s a 2017 paper on integrity bodies. It suggests that, to secure funding against a recalcitrant Executive government, there should be a “special branch” of integrity agencies that get rum and rations directly from Parliament. What a good idea! Bring on a national ICAC with teeth.

Restoring trust: CLA calls for two initiatives to win back the people

CLA will appear before the Inquiry into Nationhood, National Identity and Democracy on Friday 13 November 2020. The inquiry is being held by the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Reference Committee. In its submission, CLA has told the committee two initiatives are needed to win back the trust of the people of Australia in our federal parliament: a National Anti-Corrupt Commission, with robust powers to investigate the actions or inactions of politicians and bureaucrats, and a bill of rights to power to the people enforce their liberties and freedoms when government tries to take them away.