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)”.

Freedom of religion is not carte blanche to ignore laws

The expert panel inquiring into religious freedom should be very clear exactly what ‘freedom of religion’ means in Australia, CLA says in its inquiry submission. The notion includes the rights of atheists, no mandating of ‘religiosity’ in schools, and no promoting of religion by the state. We should also have protections as constant benchmark comparators, such as those contained in the Bill of Rights Australians should have to protect ongoing individual freedom of choice.

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.

A law unto themselves, absent model principles

Bill Rowlings* questions how ‘professional’ is the Legal Profession Board of Tasmania. It’s a quango that only recently worked out it needs to abide by model litigant principles, a decade after it was created. And it seems to particularly dislike the right of people to question, scrutinise and dissent.

It is a body which annually seeks funding approval from the Attorney-General and reports formally to the AG each year, making it a quango despite its claims of “independence”. It has 10 statutory functions. Handling complaints is the third listed, but seems to dominate its activities overwhelmingly. Educating the public is one of its activities which appears to have received a very much lower priority.

Aged care: inquiry should focus on ‘people’ not ‘consumers’

Civil Liberties Australia has taken issue with the language used in a parliamentary inquiry into the Quality of Care in Residential Aged Care Facilities in Australia. “We note that the Terms of Reference refer to ‘residents’ and ‘consumer protection’, rather than referring to ‘people’, ‘older Australians’ or ‘citizens’. In this language lies the danger of treating older Australians merely as “profit units” for an industry portrayed in the public perception as ‘caring’, because of its links to churches and the like, but which is in truth as hard-nosed and bottom line-driven as any other, “ CLA has told the inquiry. Click for CLA’s submission

Aged care homes: strident report from SA

“The evidence establishes that, in theory, there were sufficient mechanisms in place to ensure appropriate oversight in relation to complaints and reports and the investigation of incidents. In practice however these systems failed because they depended too much upon individual reporting and individual judgement. As a result nearly all of the information about the poor standard of care at the Oakden Facility was confined to those who worked there.”  – quote from the report.

March 2018 newsletter: FOI, privacy in turmoil as boss resigns out of the blue

The boss of privacy, data breach monitoring and FOI has resigned out of the blue, just as the government introduces a new regime supposedly to curtail leaking by the corporate sector of private, personal data. At the same time, the head of Australia’s police and security services, Minister Peter Dutton, has launched an overt, public attack on magistrates and the judiciary.

Other items in this issue include:

  • TPP-11 just as flawed as the original: sovereignty at risk
  • Have ASIO ‘blobs’ been given illegal access to Parliament House?
  • DPP’s office profits from proceeds of crime: more staff, more funding
  • First system of detention centre inspections under OPCAT is set up
  • Teenagers to get lesser rights…and women already suffer discrimination
  • State election is a high-stakes choice regarding human rights
  • Nation’s justice system is in turmoil, says its former head
  • Rulers crack down on lawyers’ rights, licences cancelled

DOWNLOAD HERE for SINGLE COLUMN (read on screen) or TWO COLUMN version (print, read over a break)

Govt right to proceed cautiously with bail reforms

By Dr Karen Gelb

In the aftermath of Melbourne’s Bourke St tragedy, in which a driver ran amok in the CBD in January 2017, the Victorian Government announced changes to the state’s bail system along with a two-stage major review of Victoria’s bail laws.

The first tranche of reforms is due to begin on 1 July this year, with the second set of amendments still to be debated in the upper house of Parliament.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy has continued to chastise Daniel Andrews for delaying commencement of the bail reforms, calling instead for them to begin at the end of March.