One jurisdiction has agreed to implement the principle of ‘No Rights Without Remedies’ starting in 2023, as the campaign for a national Human Rights Act switches into higher gear with a briefing to MPs in Parliament House. The federal Budget delivered in small ways for rights and liberties, but there were worrying failures nationally and internationally in terms of Australia’s prison systems, and in how we run trials whee rape is alleged, including serious new questions surrounding judicial directions, the rights of juries and ‘counselling’ in and out of court…raised here for the first time.
CLA’s submission to the National Anti-Corruption Commission parliamentary inquiry placed the NACC in context – along with a much-needed, federal Human Rights Act to follow – as delivering a better, fairer and more equal ethical infrastructure for Australia. When CLA appeared before the NACC inquiry committee, it was unfortunately more intent on parsing clauses from a legal perspective than discussing the best national philosophy for Australia. (Note: the committee asked for submissions to be kept as short as possible).
Recent revelations of secret recordings of lawyers and their clients at Risdon Prison by Tasmanian Police over two months raised major alarm bells. The Commonwealth Ombudsman has been consistently calling out TasPol for its recording devices and surveillance warrant failures for years. TasPol's “compliance culture” is lacking, the Ombudsman says. In other words, TasPol does not obey the law. SPECIAL ANALYSIS reveals how extensive the TasPol problem is: nothing less than a full inquiry into TasPol will get to the root causes of its problems.
Police can self-authorise some warrants, or get a magistrate or judge to issue others. But whatever method is mandated, warrants are frequently incorrectly issued in Australia on false, dodgy or incomplete information containing wrong details and not meeting legal requirements, or by unauthorised people. The Commonwealth monitors warrant processes, and its Ombudsman has singled out one state in particular, Tasmania, for compliance and culture criticism over the past few years
What was so secret about the Bernard Collaery and Witness K case? It couldn’t have been the bugging of the East Timorese Cabinet rooms, as that was well known. Perhaps it was deeper and longer-term spying on who the East Timorese leaders were planning to throw their lot in with, over suspicions of Chinese influence of concern to Australia 20 years ago, Dr Richie Gun surmises.
The federal Labor Party’s election platform for 2022 promises a ‘Review of the Human Rights Framework’ for Australia.The new government has also promised to create an international Human Rights Ambassador. CLA is campaigning for a review in the first 100 days, alongside developing a National Integrity Commission. In 2009 the Brennan Inquiryundertook had the biggest consultation in Australia’s history on the subject of human rights, with an overwhelming positive response by Australians. Now is time to introduce a Human Rights Act, or Bill of Rights, for Australia. Read the latest news.
CLA is working hard behind the scenes to encourage a new approach to Human Rights Acts, federally and in the states and territories. The aim is to ensure that all such Acts in future contain simple, easy, quick and cheap access to a remedy – starting with a conciliation process, through a tribunal to a senior court if necessary – for people to have their rights enforced against political and bureaucratic decisions. An inquiry in the ACT will soon consider the issues in detail.
Australia needs a Criminal Cases Review Commission system. Proven over 25 years in Britain, a CCRC can correct wrongful convictions like those of the Guildford 4 and the Birmingham 6 (Photo: two of those victims, with Australian wrongful conviction guru Estelle Blackburn). With an Australian CCRC system, the cases of Sue Neill-Fraser and Derek Bromley – now before the High Court – would have evaluated for their possible erroneous forensics earlier than 13 and 37 years ago, respectively.
How come governments can ‘downskirt’ drivers and passengers without regard to their personal privacy? What happens to the raunchy photos spotted by the government road spies? We need a human rights act, and privacy laws, to protect us from our governments.