Slaves get little reprieve from flaccid new law

Why are we are so timid over rights and freedoms, but so over-zealous when it’s repression? With refugees, we have struck upon a crude, cruel way to discourage asylum seekers. Now, a new law is taking the barest minimum steps to try to help 21stC slaves. With more slaves in the world than ever before, it was time our parliament enacted robust legislation with teeth: instead, we’re getting a Modern Slavery Act as flakey as a gummy shark.

Canberra: Be on the defensive!

Forget the fireworks inside Parliament House! Loud bangs are likely to be heard all over Canberra soon…but no-one’s saying where or when. The Australian Defence Force plans to carry out counter-terrorism training in late August. Or, it could be, training for when the federal government calls out the troops: see CLA’s submission to the current Defence Call Out Bill, a particularly power-seizing piece of legislation that flies in the face of one clause in the Australian Constitution.

Evils of mandatory sentencing on display

Zak Grieve withdrew from a murder plot before the event, refusing to go through with it. But that didn’t save him from two legal evils, mandatory sentencing and the ‘joint criminal enterprise’ doctrine. Under the latter, he was guilty because he knew of the plot in advance, and didn’t stop it. Under mandatory sentencing, Zak – the 19-year-old who wasn’t there, who had no previous criminal record – received a longer sentence in prison than the actual killer! Now a group of activists, including CLA’s Felicity Gerry QC, have lodged a petition for mercy in the Northern Territory to try to overcome legal inflexibility in pursuit of justice and a fairer go.

Govt seeks new powers to send in the troops

The federal government is hell bent on boosting its powers to call out the troops at a moment’s notice anywhere in Australia, and even in anticipation of a problem occurring. The new law, now being considered by a parliamentary committee, would be perfect for using the Army, Navy and Air Force to protect President Trump when he visits, or to stop protestors at Adani mine or port sites, where fracking is about to get under way or any environmental protest is likely. The power to call out the troops should be very tightly constrained, which is the opposite of how this draft bill is written, says CLA CEO Bill Rowlings.

The Real Deal in Parliament, helping to make law

Civil Liberties Australia member and first-year ANU law student Elly McLean was pleased to be asked to be part of a CLA team appearing before a parliamentary committee inquiry. She was able to experience first-hand how laws are shaped and honed, and how groups like CLA make submissions and take part in ‘live’ hearings, which are recorded for the formal Hansard report of parliament’s proceedings. Here she gives her impressions of her first committee experience…indeed, her very first visit to the Australian Parliament.

Wowsers never stop stopping your freedom of choice

The attempts by collectivist public health cultists to impose their values on other citizens continue, writes Mark Jarratt*. This time it is a sugar tax, yet another relentless, paternalistic, intrusion into daily life. Adults should be left to make their own decisions: smokers, drinkers, gamblers, and consumers of ‘unapproved’ food neither need nor want overbearing, dictatorial, anti-free-choice “help”, he says.

Dead man phone-fingered for his private secrets

Police in Florida USA have crept in to a funeral home to enlist the help of a corpse they created to unlock the man’s mobile phone. Avoiding the man’s fiancee, who was at the funeral home at the time, they have tried to use the dead man’s fingers to gain access to information. So far, the phone has stayed mute. Meanwhile investigations continue over how fellow police came to shoot the man dead in the first place, over the ‘crime’ of having illegal tinted windows on his car.

Rescuing a persecuted minority in South Africa?

Attacking a foreigner 2015: Africa News photo

By CLA Director Jennifer Ashton*

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has rightly brought our attention to persecuted minorities in South Africa…but he has overlooked people who fit his stated criteria perfectly.

They demonstrate a work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit that would fit well with values of Australians and who have been the victims of nationwide violence against them in 2008, 2015 and 2017. Rioters attacking this group chant a revolutionary Jacob Zuma song, in this case “hand me my machine (gun)”.

CLA calls on inquiry committee to protect NGOs

Civil Liberties Australia’s submission to federal parliament’s Electoral Matters inquiry has called on the committee to ensure that NGOs are safeguarded against the intrusive and punitive provisions in the first draft of the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017. The bill is negatively focused, and continues a trend to  restrict and impose burdens on democratic communication in Australia, CLA says. Why is the parliament not producing, instead, positive reforms that further enable, expand and facilitate access to democracy by Australian citizens? CLA asks.