A parliamentary inquiry into how Big Government screws the little guy and small business in court is struggling to have its voice heard. A Senate committee’s investigation of a proposed law to fix the problem was announced in November 2017, but the committee’s report now been postponed, for the fourth time, to 7 December 2018. That’s a day after the last sitting day of the year for parliament. If an election is called early in 2019, we may never get to see why the government believes it can ignore its legislated responsibility to make its own bodies give people a fair go in legal battles
‘I don’t want to live any more’ said the man standing in the rubble of his destroyed home. His teenage daughter beside him burst into tears and the younger daughter looked up at him, not understanding. CLA member and former Fremantle MHR Melissa Parke – a member of the three-person UN Group of Experts whose report on Yemen is under consideration by the UN Human Rights Council – explains the tragedy of a violent one-sided war, a nation bombed towards oblivion, and a broken people whom the world has forgotten. (Includes link to Yemen Report to the UN HRC).
For nearly 30 years, since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, Australia’s rate of jailing Indigenous people has been going totally in the wrong direction, says ACT Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Shane Drumgold. The option of ever-increasing sentences hasn’t worked so, he says, it’s time we totally switched our thinking towards solutions that work in other countries rather than continuing failed policies that not only have not worked, but have been demonstrated for decades to not work to solve an ongoing problem.
Why are we are so timid over rights and freedoms, but so over-zealous when it’s repression? With refugees, we have struck upon a crude, cruel way to discourage asylum seekers. Now, a new law is taking the barest minimum steps to try to help 21stC slaves. With more slaves in the world than ever before, it was time our parliament enacted robust legislation with teeth: instead, we’re getting a Modern Slavery Act as flakey as a gummy shark.
Emerging from a political schemozzle, real government business continues with a major review of the ‘National Intelligence Community’ scheduled for early 2019. Your input is sought for a November 2018 CLA submission. The government claims the review is NOT about limiting civil liberties and human rights…but every other similar ‘security’ review has wound back freedoms, reversed the burden of proof, and escalated authoritarian power over the people. This review will be no different. See the Special Report on National Intelligence and Security in this issue…and read what Peter Dutton thinks of civil liberties.
Also in this issue:
- Is the government drafting ‘ambit’ legislation?
- TPP trade deal vote comes to a crunch
- MLA’s falsehood radio spray costs taxpayers $280,000
- Magistrate reins in DPP’s wealth-confiscation avarice
- Committee recommends new euthanasia law
- ‘Copwatch’ aims to train a constant eye on police
- Kiwis build rights-friend jail to cater for mentally ill prisoners
- ODD SPOT: Stunning police save dandelions from vicious 87yo woman
Forget the fireworks inside Parliament House! Loud bangs are likely to be heard all over Canberra soon…but no-one’s saying where or when. The Australian Defence Force plans to carry out counter-terrorism training in late August. Or, it could be, training for when the federal government calls out the troops: see CLA’s submission to the current Defence Call Out Bill, a particularly power-seizing piece of legislation that flies in the face of one clause in the Australian Constitution.
The fate of Australia’s First Nations Peoples is intrinsically important to all Australians. Their debate in mid-year in Canberra should be the starting point for a wider general discussion, over a number of years, to resolve fundamental questions of what elements of history comprise us, who we all are as a nation today, and what we aspire to becoming in the century ahead as a relatively small group of people living independently on an island continent a long way away from most other nations on earth. Christian Bennett comments.
By Paul Gregoire: A Senate committee has just given the Turnbull government the green light to nationalise a scheme that allows government to seize citizens’ assets unless their legitimate origins can be explained, even if the owner of the wealth hasn’t been charged with – let alone convicted of – an offence.
Much productive work of CLA occurs behind the scenes, often in meetings that take eat up time: planning, preparation, deciding who should attend, attending, and then reporting. Here’s an example of a ‘dialogue’ preparation meeting, run by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to help their diplomats prepare for an exchange of views with Iran over human rights.
Debates about liberties and rights are back on the public agenda as the Australian Human Rights Commission launches a new study into how emerging IT is affecting us. The prospects are improving that Queensland will become the third jurisdiction (after the ACT and Victoria) to have a ‘rights and responsibilities’ act. However, hope in one area is squelched by the federal government’s intransigence when it puts the wrong people on trial over bugging the Timor Leste Cabinet room. As governments continue try to bury their mistakes, legally or otherwise, there’s more need than ever for the statutory requirements of the Model Litigant Principles to apply.
Also in this issue:
- New troop call out bill is alarming
- ‘No one else will do it for us’
- Targets for females…but not for MLPs
- ‘Brown paper bag’ opened for by-election pork barrelling
- Do parliamentary committees enhance our rights?
- Canadians troubled by detention of immigrants
- 200 women prosecuted for false rape claims
- Girl raped by brother jailed for having abortion
Zak Grieve withdrew from a murder plot before the event, refusing to go through with it. But that didn’t save him from two legal evils, mandatory sentencing and the ‘joint criminal enterprise’ doctrine. Under the latter, he was guilty because he knew of the plot in advance, and didn’t stop it. Under mandatory sentencing, Zak – the 19-year-old who wasn’t there, who had no previous criminal record – received a longer sentence in prison than the actual killer! Now a group of activists, including CLA’s Felicity Gerry QC, have lodged a petition for mercy in the Northern Territory to try to overcome legal inflexibility in pursuit of justice and a fairer go.