Never-ending inquiry into religion to keep on keeping on

The federal government is likely to keep inquiring into religious freedoms in the new parliament from May 2019, because it can’t make up its mind how to reconcile giving priority to Christian religious beliefs in a secular society mandated by the Australian Constitution. The latest of many inquiries has just reported, and it at least had the good grace to quote the sensible observations of CLA.

Spooky MPs raise the bar on monumental hypocrisy

The chair, Andrew Hastie, and deputy chair, Anthony Byrne, of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security have issued a truly historically hypocritical media release in which the parliament’s most repressive committee claims it stands for ‘the ability to report freely on national security’ as ‘vital to our democracy’. What about on-water incidents with boats and refugee claimants? What about ASIO reporting restrictions? What about the Witness K/Collaery secret trial at the moment? We haven’t heard a word from either of the two PJCIS heavies standing up for the media’s right to report ‘freely’ on those issues.

DFAT: Report on 2019 Annual NGO Forum on Human Rights    

Forums between civil society organisations and the government departments provide excellent opportunities for robust, two-way exchanges of thoughts and opinions. The February 2019 DFAT forum saw some sharp exchanges as NGOs tried to hold the government accountable for seeming human rights abuses. But, as CLA Director Eloise McLean reports, much responsibility for how Australia respects human rights now rests with the ‘action’ agency, the Department of Home Affairs.

Australia: Are we a fascist state?

Is smoking worse than fascism? How do you measure and balance between different claims to society-harming activity? These are the issues Mark Jarratt – who chooses to smoke – explores in this article calling for the many to dispense with apathy and think about controlling what he sees as the real danger to Australian society, group-think engendered and controlled by a self-selected cadre of fervid crusaders for whom even the Turkey solution of the past might not be enough.

Children need to learn their 3Rs…and human rights

Students should learn about human rights, in schools and universities, as an integral part of their education, not necessarily only as a standalone subject, a major internatinal human rights conference heard recently.  More than 400 hundred human rights experts representing 50 countries  attended the 9th International Conference on Human Rights Education at Western Sydney University in November 2018. CLA member Sophie Bouris reports on the highlights.

Dutton devalues sex register by false, overblown claims

Minister Peter Dutton is devaluing a most important and needed public debate, apparently for political purposes, about preventing child sex abuse. “The way he has gone about what amounts to a sham consultation is a very clear indication that he and the government are much more concerned about the upcoming federal election than bringing in better and effective protection for children than exists now,” CLA CEO Bill Rowlings says. “From the outset of this media silly season thought bubble, Minister Dutton has made outrageous claims, quoted inappropriate sources and combined figures for categories of offences in a way that would see him charged with fraud if he were to do something similar in a commercial prospectus.” There is no evidence to support Mr Dutton’s claims that a sex register would work, he said.

Want to help a ‘caravaner’ refugee?

As waves of people continue to push on foot towards a possibly walled Mexico-USA border, the US President is lowering even further the number of refugees permitted into the USA in 2019. Can individual Australians sponsor a ‘caravaner’ refugee? Yes, but it’s costly, lengthy and replete with reams and months, if not years, of red tape. CLA Director and refugee expert Jennifer Ashton explains.