Tag: laws

Rex Patrick: Government credibility on the line amid Boyle, McBride whistleblower trials – Michael West

Whistleblower laws, David McBride, Richard Boyle

Relentless prosecution of whistleblowers David McBride and Richard Boyle may damage the credibility of Australia’s government on the world stage, writes Rex Patrick. Whistleblower protection laws need urgent reform.

Source: Rex Patrick: Government credibility on the line amid Boyle, McBride whistleblower trials – Michael West

Michael West Media- Freedom of Speech

Australia prides itself on freedom of expression, yet we have the most draconian laws in the Western world. How can we uphold a free press when defamation law is having a chilling effect on our media and threatens to undermine the very foundations of investigative journalism?

Climate protesters criminalised as climate crisis escalates

When people protest and the cause is obvious governments capitulate or are overrun. Vietnam, Apartheid, Sri Lanka, Climate,

With anti-protest laws on the rise as our climate crisis worsens, activists are fighting back to raise awareness, writes Claire Burgess.

Source: Climate protesters criminalised as climate crisis escalates

Bouncer, get your virtual hands off me – Michael West

If Australians knew the extent of the collection and abuse of their online activities and biometric information, they would be marching in the streets demanding decent regulations that protect them against such violations. Unfortunately, when it comes to tech, legislation is either uninformed, out of date, or just embarrassing. That left tech companies on their own to self-regulate, and it’s often in favour of the investors and shareholders. What’s worse, Australians are left in the dark and unprotected when it comes to their digital rights.

Bouncer, get your virtual hands off me – Michael West

Frydenberg’s law breaking regulator helped dismantle coal laws

Rules and Laws aren’t for Josh Frydenberg they stand in his way

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is responsible for laws being broken that maintain accountability in the fossil fuel industry. Anthony Klan reports. THE BOSS of the nation’s monopoly infrastructure regulator – who engaged in serious illegality that the Federal Government went to substantial lengths to cover up – earlier helped dismantle accountability laws in favour of major fossil fuels infrastructure owners.

Source: Frydenberg’s law breaking regulator helped dismantle coal laws

Trolling: Defamation experts reject Morrison government’s ‘anti-troll’ proposal

Scott Morrison and Michaelia Cash announced the defamation proposal last year.

Couple that with Dutton’s want for defamation cases brought by Government MPs to be funded by us the taxpayers. You then have a very privileged group who with power and access to money can say whatever they want but can shut down any criticism.  The simple act of threatening a court case to shut citizens up becomes available to them. Don’t be fooled that this government is protecting anyone other than themselves while knocking freedom of speech on the head. The efforts are to ban any form of criticism and reduce debate.

 Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Attorney-General Michaelia Cash announced in November that they would amend defamation laws, traditionally a state and territory responsibility, to provide an “easy and quick” way for people to complain to social media platforms and have allegedly defamatory material taken down.

Source: Trolling: Defamation experts reject Morrison government’s ‘anti-troll’ proposal

Kevin Rudd: Voter-ID laws are an assault on our democracy

Kevin Rudd

While there is no voter fraud in Australia it seems Morrison and the LNP are for Voter Suppression and hope that non-compulsory voting can be introduced to change our Democratic system sufficiently, and alter the playing field in their favor. They have been working on ridding Australia of the ABC and all the fail-safe mechanisms that we are most admired for among the world’s  Democracies when it comes to voting.. The LNP is a coalition of minority parties Nationals and Liberals with Labor actually getting the majority votes. If the Liberals could suppress votes and rid the country of the publicly owned broadcaster  they believe they could improve their voting status and gain seats in their own right. The Republicans in the US are doing it and so our unimaginative Liberals have  fallen into line not just diminishing but ridding us of our Democractic systems,why? Because with the backing of money, media, and voter suppression they believe they’d never lose and could form an Autocracy. Democracy only exists if parties accept their loss and governments act for those all citizens even those that voted against them.

Scott Morrison’s plan to introduce US-style “voter ID” laws for Australian elections represents a stealth assault on compulsory voting that will radicalize our politics and stop ordinary working families from exercising their sacred right to vote.

Source: Kevin Rudd: Voter-ID laws are an assault on our democracy

Wither Encryption: What Operation Trojan Shield Reveals – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Having given nods of approval for encryption as “an existential anchor of trust in the digital world”, the ministers took aim at the various platforms using it. On this occasion, it was the “challenges to public safety” posed by the use of encryption technology, “including to highly vulnerable members of our societies like sexually exploited children.” (The battle against solid encryption is often waged over the bodies and minds of abused children.) Industry was urged “to address our concerns where encryption is applied in a way that wholly precludes any legal access.” This would involve companies having to police illegal content and permit “law enforcement to access content in a readable and usable format where an authorisation is lawfully issued, is necessary and proportionate, and is subject to strong safeguards and oversight.” Cases like Anom demonstrate that there is seemingly no need for such intrusions, bells of alarm, and warnings about safety. The police have sufficient powers and means, and more besides. As with such matters, the danger tends to be closer to home: police zeal; prosecutor’s glee; a hatred of privacy. Joseph Lorenzo Hall, senior vice president at the non-p

Source: Wither Encryption: What Operation Trojan Shield Reveals – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Trump’s Vaccine Czar Refuses To Give Up Stock In Related Drug Company | Crooks and Liars

The administration calls Moncef Slaoui, who leads its vaccine race, a “contractor” to sidestep rules against personally profiting from government positions. Slaoui owns $10 million in stock of a company working with his team to develop a vaccine.

Trump’s Vaccine Czar Refuses To Give Up Stock In Related Drug Company | Crooks and Liars
Trump’s Vaccine Czar Refuses To Give Up Stock In Related Drug Company
Corruption in plain sight

‘Worse than Nixon’: Democrats lay out impeachment case in landmark report

The report of the House Intelligence Committee accuses US President Donald Trump of inappropriately trying to influence Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky.

US President Donald Trump subverted official foreign policy for his personal gain, undermined American national security and engaged in an unprecedented attempt to obstruct an impeachment investigation, according to a pivotal report released by Democrats.

The report by the Democrat-controlled House Intelligence Committee, released on Tuesday (Wednesday Australian time), provides a likely blueprint for forthcoming articles of impeachment against Trump over his dealings with Ukraine.

via ‘Worse than Nixon’: Democrats lay out impeachment case in landmark report

The Peters and the Pauls: The fight for sex work decriminalisation in Queensland – » The Australian Independent Media Network

There is nothing wrong with offering or paying for sex services by consenting adults. I think there has been a general taboo about talking about or doing anything sexual for far too long. Slut shaming is a very real thing and begins from an early age. There is still time to make a difference and jump on the second wave of the sexual revolution bandwagon and advocate for complete decriminalisation for sex workers in Queensland. Lobby your local MP’s, write emails and letters in support even if you aren’t a provider, just because it’s the right thing to do. Let your friends and family know that you are in support of sex worker rights and tell them why. All we want is a safer work place, the ability to ask for help and to receive support when it is needed. A win/win for everyone in my book!

via The Peters and the Pauls: The fight for sex work decriminalisation in Queensland – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Criminalisation of wage theft likely to backfire, say experts

Professor John Howe from the University of Melbourne.

Do we need proof of the unfair bias in our laws when an indigenous Australian can be jailed for the theft of a Mars Bar and his employer can’t be charged fo underpaying him? (ODT)

“The Fair Work Act contains very hefty civil penalties for wage underpayments. The penalties were increased by up to 20 times last year,” he said. “Therefore, any view that the previous penalties were not tough enough has already been very comprehensively addressed.

“Any civil case relating to back-pay would be put on hold by the Courts until the criminal case is heard and determined. Therefore, workers would be waiting years for back-pay.”

Victorian Attorney-General Jill Hennessy said the existing legal regime has failed to prevent underpayment of workers in low paid industries such as hospitality.

“The new laws will be drafted carefully to address any potential constitutional inconsistency issues,” he said.

via Criminalisation of wage theft likely to backfire, say experts

The Trump Administration’s Climate Report Left Out Reproductive Rights. Here’s What It Missed. – Mother Jones

The big question of climate change is no longer why it’s happening (humans have a wild fossil-fuel-burning habit) nor when it’s going to happen (it is happening). These days, it’s how are we going to build a civilization that can survive climate change—and how can we adapt in a way that doesn’t leave out whole segments of the population.

via The Trump Administration’s Climate Report Left Out Reproductive Rights. Here’s What It Missed. – Mother Jones

Australian Complicity: Nauru and Silencing Journalism – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Over the last few years, the small island state has insisted on controlling the journalistic pool.  A conspicuous target here has been the ABC itself, which was banned from entering the country to cover the Pacific Islands Forum in September.  In a government statement posted in July, “It should be noted that no representative from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation will be granted a visa to enter Nauru under any circumstances.”

Elevated to the levels of high secrecy under the term Operation Sovereign Borders, “operational details” in dealing with boat arrivals, as they are termed, have been a matter of clandestine value. The degrees of control have also extended to covering camp conditions, a matter policed by such brutish little laws such as the Australian Border Force Act 2015 (Cth). Under that bit of legislative nastiness, those who obtain “protected information” in the course of their employment in the border force apparatus can be punished for two years for disclosing such information except to authorised personnel.

Prior to the passage of the ABFA, the Australian government made it its business to hound a number of Save the Children employees working in the Nauru Regional Processing centre. Their sin had been to disclose information on the lamentable conditions in the centre.

The levels of media management regarding reporting on the conditions in Nauru has been extreme. Amnesty International has called this a veritable “wall of secrecy”, designed to conceal “a system of deliberate abuse”. The Nauru government has periodically limited access by journalists to the island, a process made craftier by the hefty visa application fee. In 2014, the non-refundable fee of $200 jumped to $8000.

via Australian Complicity: Nauru and Silencing Journalism – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Israel’s High Court just made an ICC investigation more likely | +972 Magazine

Palestinian protesters evacuate a fellow demonstrator who was shot by an Israeli sniper during the Great Return March protest, east of Jabaliya, Gaza Strip, April 6, 2018. (Mohammed Zaanoun/Activestills.org)

Greg Sheridan of News Corp argued on Q&A that Israel was “highly capable” of investigating itself in any investigation of the massacre of unarmed protesters in Gaza (ODT)

The court’s rejection of a lawsuit challenging the shooting of protesters in Gaza is a reminder that the Israeli legal system simply isn’t set up to investigate the policy makers and policies that result in alleged war crimes.

via Israel’s High Court just made an ICC investigation more likely | +972 Magazine

Guy under pressure to allow gay ‘conversion’ therapy for kids

Other motions to be debated at state council include:

Calls for the Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act to re-insert “man” and “woman” in the place of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity”. The aim is that a person will define their gender as either male or female, according to their biological and reproductive function.
Calls to ban the Safe Schools program from Victorian schools and any other curriculum teaching a person’s gender may be different from their biological sex or that people can transition.

Guy under pressure to allow gay ‘conversion’ therapy for kids

Journalists ‘at risk of jail time’ under new foreign interference laws – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

A hand rests on a computer mouse

  • Media organisations and unions say they cannot support bill unless exemptions made for journalists
  • Claim existing security laws already undermine media’s role in informing Australians
  • Brandis described announcement as most significant overhaul of espionage laws in decades

via Journalists ‘at risk of jail time’ under new foreign interference laws – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Then and now: how our response to terror evolved: We experienced attacks like this in the 1970s, but our response has evolved. The shadowy concept of “terrorism” has taken root and become a justification for whole rafts of laws designed to protect us.

The scene of the 1998 bombing in the Northern Ireland town of Omagh.

By Michael Bradley

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In the aftermath of the Lindt Café siege, local Sydney businesses were sweating on whether the event would be deemed a “terrorism event” by the Federal Government, because of the implications for their lost business insurance coverage.

Outside that legal nicety, the Prime Minister and his supporters in the media were keen to label Man Haron Monis a terrorist.

In Paris, the massacre at Charlie Hebdo and the related siege at a kosher delicatessen were more obviously politically motivated acts of terror, meeting the classical definition of terrorism and appropriately given that label.

There is general agreement that we are entering a period where attacks of this kind will be more frequent, more random and more distributed. They have a general source, a streak of radical Islamic ideology that may not have any legitimacy and that is anyway clearly disavowed by almost all Muslims, but which nevertheless exists and is causing a lot of trouble.

This is a significant shift from the post 9/11 decade, when we expected and defended against large-scale terrorist attacks such as those in Bali, Madrid and London. For those of us who remember, it is strongly reminiscent of a much earlier time, when “terrorism” first entered the consciousness of modern Western society.

This was the 1970s.

For a large part of that decade, well-organised, ideologically driven and utterly ruthless terrorist groups held the West in horrified thrall as they bombed and shot up airports and pubs, kidnapped and murdered politicians, hijacked planes and cruise ships and, most famously, turned the 1972 Olympics into a bloodbath.

They acted in large groups with clear political aims like the PLO, ETA and IRA, and in small terror cells with more anarchic goals such as the Red Brigades and Baader Meinhof Gang. What they had in common was a commitment to using extreme violence as a means to achieving their various ends.

It was a terrifying time. The existential fear was that Western society was coming apart at the seams. However, the moment passed, the terrorist activity quieted and ultimately almost disappeared (for a while), and yet none of the terrorist groups had attained their goals.

So, practically, there’s nothing new about this. We’ve seen wide-scale terrorism before. And it will not succeed, any more than it did at any other time, simply because too few of us want to kill and most of those who do will tire of it or die violently themselves. Shooting people has never been a very effective way of getting them to agree with you.

But something is different this time around. What we now have, which we didn’t in the 1970s, is a structure of executive government built around terrorism that stands outside the criminal law. Its perceived legitimacy is a problem for all of us.

In the 1970s, Western governments treated and responded to the actions of the various terrorist groups as crimes. They did enlist the support of the military at times, and sensibly so, but when a group of men turned up at an airport and started shooting (as happened at Athens and Rome Airports in 1973), they were considered primarily to be the murderers of innocent civilians. In dealing with such events, often extra-judicial and military responses were deemed appropriate (for example, in 1976 when PFLP terrorists hijacked a plane and landed it at Entebbe Airport in Uganda, the Israel Defence Forces carried out the response and killed all the hijackers), which was not inconsistent with an approach grounded in criminal law enforcement. Sometimes hostage takers have to be shot, not as punishment but as the least-worst option.

In some of the most directly affected countries at the time, such as the UK and Italy, the first terrorism-specific laws were enacted, allowing for organisations to be proscribed as illegal and the exercise of extreme powers such as detention without trial. Their justification was expressed to be the same as that for wartime measures – that the IRA, for example, presented an existential threat to society. They were designed to be temporary, as an emergency expedient.

It can be argued that they were unnecessary and that a better approach would have been to extend the criminal law’s reach to give police and the courts sufficient power to attack and degrade the terror groups that were, after all, criminal conspiracies. It may be that the IRA, for example, had a political end goal, but its violent acts within the UK were crimes pure and simple.

The terrorism laws started the shift in focus from the act to the actor. But wanting independence for Northern Ireland could never properly have been a crime.

The temporary laws stayed on the books and languished until 9/11. Since then, “terrorism” has become its own classification. Not just for insurance purposes, but for whole rafts of special laws enacted to protect us from terror. Dozens of terrorism-specific laws were passed after 9/11, and we are in the middle of a new wave of such laws now, with several passed in Australia last year and more on the way. The justification for all of them is that terrorist acts require a response that the criminal law cannot provide.

Since 2001, we have heard much about the “war on terror”, as if you can wage war against a concept (you can’t). The language and usages of war are ill-adapted to terrorism, because war is a battlefield construct. Hence the knots the US and its allies tied themselves into in Afghanistan and Iraq, trying to have it both ways by treating their opponents as soldiers when it suited (while shooting at them) but not when it didn’t (prisoners of war can’t be tortured and have to be sent home when the fighting is over, not held captive in Guantanamo Bay forever).

Somewhere between the bright lines of war and criminal law, the shadowy concept of “terrorism” has now taken root. To combat it, our personal rights and freedoms all become commodities that can be traded for security. The trading calls are to be made not by us but by our governments, empowered mostly by laws we’ve allowed them to pass (but sometimes illegally, for example the US National Security Agency’s unlawful wiretapping of US citizens between 2001 and 2007).

We can be detained without charge, made subject to protection and suppression orders without explanation, prevented from travelling to certain places, arrested on our return, jailed for talking publicly about intelligence operations or saying supportive things about causes deemed to be those of terrorists, and our metadata can be accessed without a warrant. Soon it will all be kept for two years, by law.

All of this only exists because “terrorism” exists. We’re told that this entire monolithic structure of laws, agencies, powers and secrecy is absolutely necessary to protect us from the terrorists. But we’ve been through this before and, in the absence of this engulfing anti-terror structure, we survived. What could have stopped Man Haron Monis? And what difference stems from calling him just what he was: a disturbed man who committed a horrific crime?

Why, in the end, do we need a response to him that differs in any way from that which we level against a man who shoots up a shopping centre over an imagined grievance, or a man who kills his own family because he can’t cope with life?

Where the violence is more organised, the criminal law can respond. The US racketeering laws are an example of how institutional criminality can be attacked in an unconventional way, without resort to calling the concrete acts anything other than what they are: crimes.

The distinction between the act and its motivation can then be maintained. To be clear: desiring that there be an Islamic caliphate in the Middle East is not illegal, nor should it be. Killing people to achieve it is a crime. Adding the word “terror” only confuses the end with the means.

Michael Bradley is the managing partner of Marque Lawyers, a boutique Sydney law firm. View his full profile here.

Never has an Australian government talked so much about freedom while doing so much to undermine it.

The light of human rights is fading in Australia

Posted about 4 hours agoTue 7 Oct 2014, 1:57pm

 Never has an Australian government talked so much about freedom while doing so much to undermine it.When it comes to national security and refugees we are increasingly pathetic, writes Ben Saul.

.The Government’s stocks are rising as it takes advantage of public anxiety about terrorism to ram through new laws. To be sure, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria needs to be combated to protect civilians there. But the threat in Australia is modest and the Government is overcooking it.

Terrorism here is not an existential threat. Nazism, imperial Japan, and nuclear holocaust in the Cold War were existential threats. Terrorism in Australia is a minor irritation. Your own furniture is more likely to kill you.

When our Prime Minister subordinates the magical diversity of what it means to be Australian to some absurdly jingoistic, reductive view of national identity, it is no surprise that others take it further: from hateful graffiti, to calls to halt Muslim immigration or ban the burqa, to Islamophobic attacks on Australian women wearing headscarves.

The new laws also go too far. They criminalise innocent travel to places the Foreign Minister does not want you to go. They criminalise free speech. They criminalise whistleblowers and the media that report them. They allow mass surveillance of innocent Australians on the internet. They deny procedural fairness. They violate the right to social security and therefore potentially leave people destitute.

All of this comes without the binding human rights safeguards that every other self-respecting democracy imposes on its security agencies.

The bill also erases references in our law to the Refugee Convention. The Immigration Minister spat the dummy on international law, saying: “This parliament should decide what our obligations are under these conventions – not those who seek to direct us otherwise from places outside this country”, such as foreign courts or the United Nations. The Minister assured us that Australia would comply with its international obligations – which is presumably not difficult if international law is now simply whatever the Government says it is.

The rest of the miserable story of Australian refugee policy is well known. Protracted and even indefinite, illegal detention. Cruel, inhuman and degrading detention conditions, where refugees suicide, are beaten to death, or die from treatable infections. Detention factories that manufacture mental illness. Naval interceptions and offshore processing based on grand lies about queue jumping, people smuggling, and saving lives at sea. Shifting our burden onto and bribing poor neighbours like Papua New Guinea. Coddling dictators in Cambodia and war criminals and torturers in Sri Lanka. Undermining constitutionalism in Nauru. Our system punishes refugees and tries to stop them coming at whatever the human cost.

Australia receives a few thousand boat people and our politicians – on both sides – some of our media, and many Australians go into meltdown. We have no sense of proportion or perspective, like a child that cannot control itself. Stinginess, selfishness, paranoia, and racism have become defining characteristics of our nation. We are increasingly pathetic.

The major parties are in lock-step on many of these abuses, whether on refugees or terrorism. Many Australian politicians are either hostile towards human rights or indifferent. They prefer to govern by marginal seat focus groups than to show courage or leadership.

Some of the great light of human rights is fading in Australia. It is a cause of sorrow, and shame, that our institutions are incapable of arresting it. Our country has become, in the words of our bush poet Randolph Stow, “a desert of broken quartz”, wracked by the crow.