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.

High Court kills Prasad

The High Court of Australia has engaged in specious, circular reasoning to kill off the old ‘Prasad Direction’, which could see unworthy criminal charges cut short in court, barrister Jack Pappas says. Now it’s time for the Attorney-General to pass a new law reinstating ‘Prasad, or to give judges new powers to end a trial at any stage.

Will the High Court censor 2 million Australians?

A case in the High Court crucial to freedom of speech in Australia will be heard in the next fortnight. Michaela Banerji was sacked for tweeting anonymous criticism of the Immigration Department when she worked there. Was the sacking fair, or does she have a constitutional right to anonymous comment? Two million Australians – and a general right to free speech – await the answer, Kieran Pender writes.

Want to know about pill testing at music festivals?

Here’s a detailed, sober assessment of the issues around pill testing at music and dance festivals, written by a group who have lost children to drug-taking. Unfortunately, its opening lines – written on 12 Jan 2019 – are out of date: there’s been another music festival death since then. Police put their trust in sniffer dogs (accuracy rate, about 27%, a NSW Ombudsman study shows), and politicians promote prohibition. With teens and twenties, who come alive to to the beat of music, that works about as well as telling young people not to experiment with sex.

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.

We need people to be more revolting!

 

Darwinites gathered recently in a commemorative rally to recall the events of a century ago, when the tropical township was starting to earn its reputation as one of the revolutionary hotspots of Australia. CLA’s NY-semi-centurion, Rob Wesley-Smith, was moved to motivate the crown to further action, even as he recalled some of the key rallies, strikes, marches and dog-burning escapades of earlier years.

 

Suppressed! Your right to know    

A noted person was apparently convicted of historic sex crimes in Victoria in December 2018 – but Australians can only find out about the conviction by reading overseas media outlets. In Australia, news of all details of the case is ’suppressed’ by the judge. That is, no-one anywhere in Australia is permitted to report what international outlets say was a unanimous finding by a jury that a person was guilty. The person is to be sentenced in February, but is currently on bail despite being convicted of offences against children, which usually involves residential restrictions. Court suppression orders in Australia, like defamation laws, need a thorough overhaul.

Govt’s latest gift: new laws further eroding our civil liberties    

By Paul Gregoire* The Morrison Coalition government unleashed a swag of draconian laws in the final parliamentary sitting weeks of this year. The Defence Amendment (Call Out of the Australian Defence Force) Bill 2018 was passed on 27 November. This legislation lowered the threshold of when the government can send in …

Drug prohibition causes the harm

When people die or serve years in jail because they took drugs, there’s one group for whom the suffering never ends, the parents. Here reporter Paul Gregoire explores what one often-overlooked group, the Parents and Friends of Drug Law Reform, believe is the way forward to reducing deaths and ameliorate the consequences and suffering of the health problem that is the taking of drugs in our society. An overdose of alcohol is a disease, cancer from an overdose of sun is a disease, consuming tobacco is treated as a health problem, why is taking drugs not treated similarly?