Asylum seekers, refugees and Covid-19: most vulnerable, most exposed?

Vulnerable refugee claimants are at greater risk of catching Covid-19 illness because of where they are housed, and general poor nutrition and ill-health because of their poverty. Without incomes as the economy grinds to a halt, their plight is worsening. Meanwhile the Australian government appears to have a policy of deliberating slowing down their ‘day in court’ by appointing the wrong people to the main tribunal that hears refugee claims. CLA Director Jennifer Ashton tells the story.

Is counterterrorism policy out of step with reality?

At last the experts are starting to agree with what civil libertarians like CLA have been saying for a decade and a half: everything to do with counterring terrorism is massively out of kilter with reality, including the funds and people/material resources allocated, the parliamentary time spent on it, and the  massive headlines given to it. In Australia, we literally have had much more important things to worry about since about 2005.

Crisis causes power to aggregate centrally

As the virus crisis bites deeper into daily life, more people are starting to question what freedoms and liberties we are giving up at the behest of an ever-shrinking ‘executive’ ruling group, comprising a hotch-potch of people from MPs to mining bosses and public servants with interesting track records. CLA member Carolyn van Langenberg airs some opinions alternate to the mainstream groupthink.

‘Age of criminal responsibility should be raised to 16′

Children’s brains have not formed until well into their teenage years, so they are not mature enough to acquire the intent for full criminal responsibility under the age 16, CLA argues in its submission to the national working group preparing advice for all Attorneys-General on the age of criminal responsibility. CLA also believes that no child under 16 should be detained in a jail-like setting, and mandatory sentencing should be abandoned by all jurisdictions for children under 16.

Religious Freedom Bills would produce ‘perverse outcome’

The governments’ proposed Religious Freedom laws would legitimise discrimination in the name of religion, undermine states’ rights, discriminate against non-believers, and generally make employment provisions in the health and education sector a minefield for anyone other than highly-qualified lawyers. As well, the laws would further entrench tax breaks for organisations that don’t provide the services to earn them. The government can do much better: a fundamental redrafting of the proposals is needed, CLA says.

Prison report is blueprint for saving $billions, overhauling justice

The Queensland Productivity Commission has delivered its seminal report on the state of jails in that state but in reality standing for all Australian jails. Their recommendations provide a blueprint for saving taxpayers money, ending a massive jail-building program over the next decade, and seriously reducing the number of people in prison. Will our fearful governments have the courage to take positive action to achieve a better system delivering better justice?