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.

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.

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.

Afghanistan: Australia cuts and runs – what about those left behind?

We must do much more for the Afghani people who worked with and helped Australia during our long deployment there, says Dr Tony Murney, who served several tours. Abandoning those who helped us would further destroy our international reputation, he says. Prime Minister Scott Morrison cannot simply walk away, leaving real people who provided real services to Australians during times of great stress and danger. Australians were once admired for courage and dependability…no longer. We should take responsibility for the consequences we have created.

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.