May 09 Newsletter – SCAG plans major change to Australian law

The way Australia gets new laws is changing, CLA says, because the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General has become an executive authority instead of a consultative forum. The result is that we get the worst-possible (lowest common denominator) legislation introduced Australia-wide with no community consultation, or the barest minimum to pay lip service to the democratic process.  SCAG itself needs review, and overhaul.

The Australian Law Reform Commission has called for submissions over how to improve royal commissions – the costly, clumsy and cumbersome last resorts for governments that have run out of excuses. CLA welcomes suggestions for its submission, now being developed.

There are worrying signs that the traditional privacy surrounding health records at your local doctor’s surgery is being stripped away to make things easy for Medicare administrators, who will be able to pry into any clinical record. CLA is battling to safeguard people’s health privacy.

In other issues covered, light is starting to shine on totally unacceptable practices in prisons, particuarly in NSW, but the spotlight is sure to extend throughout Australia.

Facial recognition technology is being introduced with new drivers’ licences in a number of States, but road and police authorities are keeping mum about how they plan to extend the technology to enable real-time, total vehicle surveillance.

Overseas, London police are in the firing line for wearing balaclavas and stripping off their identifying numbers at G20 protests, where one man died and many were bashed by the officers supposedly ‘keeping the peace’. As well, a high profile raid a month ago which captured 12 “hot” terrorist suspects turned out to be completely over the top: all 12 have been released without charge, again holding arresting police and foam-at-the-mouth politicians up to ridicule.

Other issues featuring in this month’s CLArion include:

  • Top cop to serve 12 years as chief;
  • Uni authors write of ‘brave new world’ of surveillance;
  • US torture program: no-one checked on its roots;
  • Fiji becomes ‘Island of the Unfree’;
  • Legalising drugs could save one country $29 billion;
  • Women brave men’s jeers to demand basic rights;
  • USA plans to join Human Rights Council;
  • Same-sex marriages gain ground in US States;
  • Malaysia plans new privacy act;
  • Europe puts all communications under surveillance; and
  • Whistleblower nurse sacking is ‘farcical injustice’.

This month’s CLArion is available here.

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