Liberty Victoria submission: Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

Read submission online here.

The Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples has been accepting submissions as part of its duties to inquire into steps required for a successful referendum on constitutional recognition of Australia’s indigenous population. The Equality Pod, under the guidance of Dr Adam McBeth, has submitted a report that outlines Liberty Victoria’s position on key aspects of the proposed constitutional changes, as suggested by both the Expert Panel Report on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians and the Committee itself in a 2014 Progress Report.

This report explores the issue of constitutional recognition of Australia’s indigenous peoples within the context of international human rights law, emphasising the current inconsistencies in the Constitution and the substantive protections that could be incorporated into constitutional recognition to better adhere to international legal obligations. The report then uses this discussion to argue for particular recommendations concerning the wording and timing of the proposed referendum. These recommendations include:

  • That section 25 and section 51(xxvi) of the Constitution be repealed;
  • That a section 51A be inserted into the Constitution that gives Parliament the power to make laws with respect to the benefit of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and that ‘benefit’ be defined with reference to ‘an ordinary reasonable member of the community for whom the benefit is intended’;
  • That a prohibition against racial discrimination be inserted into the Constitution that applies to federal, state and territory governments; and
  • That a referendum take place at or shortly after the next federal election in 2016, provided sufficient consultation and awareness-raising occurs in the meantime.

The report acknowledges that while constitutional recognition in itself will not rectify past discriminatory laws and practices, it will hopefully contribute to the future reconciliation of the peoples of Australia in the spirit of equality, recognition and respect.

Data retention – what’s at stake?

Originally posted on MsLods:

Mandatory data retention is mass surveillance.

As the former Victorian Privacy Commissioner has said mass data retention:

“…is characteristic of a police state. It is premised on the assumption that all citizens should be monitored. Not only does this completely remove the presumption of innocence which all persons are afforded, it goes against one of the essential dimensions of human rights and privacy law: freedom from surveillance and arbitrary intrusions into a person’s life”

So you’ve got nothing to hide? Not fussed about rights and freedoms?  Well, here’s some further practical consequences of data retention to consider.

Your “metadata” in the court room

The Data Retention Bill does not impose any limitation on access to the retained data by other legal avenues.  This means there’s nothing stopping your ex-husband, your employer, the tax office or a bank using a subpoena to get access to that data if it is…

View original 1,139 more words

Colac Otway is officially a refugee friendly region :)

Originally posted on otwaylifemagazine:

 Members of the refugee community including the Colac based representatives of the Sudanese community, Refugee Council of Australia, G21, Great South Coast and Diversitat gathered to witness Mayor Lyn Russell sign the declaration on behalf of Council.
Members of the refugee community including the Colac based representatives of the Sudanese community, Refugee Council of Australia, G21, Great South Coast and Diversitat gathered to witness Mayor Lyn Russell sign the declaration on behalf of Council.

“What an auspicious event,” Cr Russell said. “This region has been enriched for generations by the new cultures who come to call this place home. And the refugees who have settled here in recent years heighten that.

“By signing this declaration today we share with the rest of the world, our view that the melting pot of community is our future,” Cr Russell said.
“I commend the work that has been done by Diversitat; Rachel Walker, you and your team have been pivotal in aiding the transition of refugees into life here. Thank-you.”

Cr Russell conceded that life as a refugee came with challenges many in the community would never imagine. “It’s just…

View original 1,076 more words

The Extra-territorialisation of Migration Control and the Right to Seek Asylum

This article was originally published on Right Now.

In this age of globalisation, many asylum-receiving states have attempted to restrict access to asylum through a range of extraterritorial measures that effectively prevent asylum seekers from reaching territorial borders in order to apply for protection.

As Thomas Gammeltoft-Hansen notes in his book Access to Asylum, “the last decades have seen a number of policy developments to extend migration control well beyond the borders of the state.”

These extraterritorial measures include carrier controls that place financial penalties on airlines that carry those without a visa, disruption activities in transit countries, the use of immigration officers in foreign countries, offshore processing, and the interception of boats on the High Seas.

Continue reading

Civil Disobedience and Admission to Practice

As per Legal Profession Act 2004 (Vic) s 1.2.6(1)(a), an applicant for admission is required to satisfy the Board of Examiners that they are of good fame and character. In assessing such a test, the Board can consider ‘whether the person has been found guilty of an offence in Australia’ (s 1.2.6(1)(c)).

Wendy Bacon is a journalist, academic and activist campaigning for free speech. In 1979, she applied to the Barristers Admission Board to be admitted to practice. As discussed in the text book and in class, she was rejected for admission due to her willingness to break the law. As Justice Reynolds stated in the case, the decision was:

‘a question of whether a person who aspires to serve the law can be said to be fit to do so when it is demonstrated that in the zealous pursuit of political goals she will break the law if she regards it as impeding the success of her cause.’

Continue reading

The High Court’s Sri Lanka asylum seeker case: the legal issues

Originally posted on Castan Centre for Human Rights Law:

By Patrick Emerton

Yesterday’s High Court case concerning the fate of Tamil asylum seekers detained at sea by Australian authorities has been adjourned until Friday.

The case raises a range of legal questions. These go to the legality of the Australian Government’s policy towards, and treatment of, asylum seekers. They also go to broader questions concerning the relationship between Australian domestic law and international law.

When it comes to dealing with asylum seekers, the Australian Government has three principal sources of power.

The most commonly-used is the Migration Act 1958. Under this law, Australian officials are empowered (and in some circumstances obliged) to detain people in Australian waters who do not have visas.

The High Court of AustraliaThis does not seem to be directly relevant in the current matter, though, as the asylum seekers were not detained within Australian waters. This is why the Solicitor-General, representing the Australian Government in the…

View original 1,223 more words