Confidence in Australian democracy plummets

A federal parliament committee is hearing widespread views on the state of Australian democracy, including our inability to amend the Constitution and a reluctance to hold many referendums, in a series of ‘public’ meetings available to all citizens through streaming. Here is a precis of the comments in a submission by academic Dr Bede Harris, who has recently launched a major book on the subject.

Legal, police experts want SNF appeal re-opened

Two experts, Hugh Selby and Barbara Etter, have formally asked Tasmanian Attorney-General Elise Archer to re-open the ‘in limbo’ appeal by Sue Neill-Fraser into her 2010 conviction for murdering her husband, Bob Chappell, aboard a yacht moored in Sandy Bay, Hobart, in 2009. The appeal has been heard, but a decision is awaited. The experts say police incompetence, or worse, has never been examined in the SNF case: if it was, she may well be acquitted.

Q. to CLA: How about we adopt an Australia Card?

It sounds so simple, just adopt an ID card that you must carry with you everywhere to ‘sign in’ during the Covid-19 pandemic. But how quickly would surveillance-creep go viral, and your movements be subjected to watching and recording every second of every day, all year, everywhere, by the police, spooks and governments? Massive safeguards are needed to protect our privacy and our private information, CLA says.

Are we losing our liberties?

Are Australians losing liberties under the pandemic? There’s a strict, legal answer…and then the practical reality of what’s occurring. But the real lesson is that only eternal vigilance – and a federal Human Rights Act – will protect our freedoms. ‘The struggle for civil liberties is a journey that’s never ending,’ former High Court judge, Michael Kirby, says.

Top cop confused on legality of police actions

Was Operation Ironside illegal under Australian law? There is doubt, created by the AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw, whether the much ballyhooed Operation Ironside was carried out according to the law of the land. The first duty of our police is to obey the law, even before enforcing it. We need open and honest answers rather than confuseed bluster and PR spin, CLA says.

Australia abandons our supporters in Afghanistan

Australia is helping military interpreters who helped out troops in Afghanistan. But we need to do more, more widely: there were hundreds, possibly thousands, of Afghanis employed through Australian-funded and run aid projects, as well other projects where we provided funding through the UN or other agencies. They too face retribution: we also have a responsibility to them, Dr Tony Murney writes.

Federal law enforcement enters strange period

Powers-promoting TV appearances – actually, PR bids for new laws – by top police and politicians are a worrying new trend AS SEEN ON TV. The behaviour of the Coalition Government and ’The Community’ (as the security agencies and police bosses describe themselves) is a worrying new trend in how Executive government, uniformed elites and secret spooks aim to manipulate the Parliament and the people to their own ends. A recent blustering briefing on TV raised more questions than it answered, questions that demand transparent answers from the AFP hierarchy. Would the AFP have ’shopped’ the Bali 9, two of whom were executed, under the apparent new AFP arrest rules?

Parl committee wants human rights front and centre       

         
In what would be a revolutionary development, a parliamentary committee wants all Appropriation Bills – the legislation allowing the government, its departments and agencies to spend money – to be compatible with human rights, and to say so up front. The Human Rights Committee argues that government spending impacts either positively or negatively on Australians’ human rights, so people should be told up front what the ramifications will be. CLA welcomes the initiative, which should spread through all levels of government.