Showing posts with label human rights. Show all posts
Showing posts with label human rights. Show all posts

Thursday, 1 November 2018

The Morrison Government is puckering its lips to blow on a dog whistle or two?


Ever since Scott Morrison - as then Australian Minister for Immigration and Border Protection - imposed a complete media blackout on asylum seekers arriving by sea, voters have never been quite sure how to take the Liberal-Nationals boast that they had “stopped the boats".

Every so often an inconvenient highly visible landing on our shores revealed that the boats had never stopped coming.

Now faced with increasing pressure to close Manus and Nauru as offshore detention sites, Prime Minister Morrison and his political cronies have to once again hype up the threat of ravening hoardes of undocumented immigrants by drawing out attention back to those boats.

The Australian, 24 October 2018, p.6:

....Operation Sovereign Borders has prevented more than 3300 asylum-seekers coming to Australia by turning back 33 boats and successfully disrupting ­nearly 80 people-smuggling ventures in the past five years.

The Australian can reveal that since September 2013, at least 2525 people have been stopped from boarding boats to Australia because of co-operation with neighbouring countries which has led to the disruption of 78 people-smuggling operations.

In addition, 33 boats trying to ferry just over 800 asylum-­seekers to Australia were stopped on the high seas or turned back.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton yesterday told parliament that advice from the Operation Sovereign Borders agency heads was that the “threat of people-smuggling has certainly not gone away”....

According to the Refugee Council of Australia on 3 August 2018 there were:

3,127 people have been sent to Nauru or PNG as part of offshore processing arrangements

An estimated 1,534 people are still on Nauru or PNG as of 29 July 2018, and as of 30 June 2018 219 are still in Nauru Regional Processing Centre

947 people have left ‘voluntarily’, including through resettlement, as of 29 July 2018, and since September 2012 to May 2018  646 people have left Manus and 165 from Nauru ‘voluntarily’ to their country of origin, and 20 people were forcibly removed from Manus

494 people have been transferred to Australia for medical treatment, and 460 of them were still in Australia as of 21 May 2018 (based on official information that 294 people had left for the US as of 30 April 2018 and reports of another 121 people resettling in the US since then)

7 people had left for Cambodia, as of 30 April 2018

372 people have been accepted by the US (including those who have left), and 121 have been refused by the US, as of 21 May 2018

By far the largest number of those refused are from Iran (70), although 15 Iranians have been accepted

There are 170 families on Nauru, including 99 families which have 158 minors, as of 26 February 2018

There are at least 100 children who have been born to people subject to offshore processing, as of 23 October 2017

There are nine nuclear family units split between Australia and offshore processing, as of 23 October 2017

There are 583 recognised refugees left in PNG, and 821 recognised refugees on Nauru, as of 21 May 2018.

Australia also holds people in onshore immigration detention and as of 31 July 2018:

Numbers of people in held detention: 1,345 with key sites being Villawood (502), Christmas Island (173), and Yongah Hill (262) 

Average length of detention: 446 days, with 267 people having spent more than 730 days in detention

Numbers of people held in detention because they came seeking asylum by boat: 315

Number of children: in detention facilities including ‘Alternative Places of Detention’: 5, in Nauru Regional Processing Centre: 12, in community detention: 176, and in the community on a bridging visa E: 2,835

Number of people in community detention: 386, from Iran (221), stateless (46) or from Sri Lanka (36), with 245 people having spent more than 730 days in community detention

Key nationalities of people in detention: New Zealand (174), Vietnam (104), Sri Lanka (89), and Iran (103).

To date there are reportedly 200 asylum seeker children and their parents in legal limbo in Australia with no clear path to either Australian citizenship or the full protection under international law, because although government sources are allegedly saying to the media that these children will never be returned to Manus or Nauru there are no guarantees in place.

As of 29 October 2018 50 children remain on Nauru.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Morrison Liberal-Nationals Coalition Government begins to position itself for forthcoming federal election


No, the Morrison Coalition Government has not suddenly developed empathy for others, a genuine understanding of its obligations under international law or a measure of respect for Australian courts.


Sensing the growing threat to its chance of holding onto government Messrs. Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton are finally allowing very ill children detained in offshore detention on Nauru to enter Australia for medical treatment.


ABC News, 22 October 2018:

Australian Border Force officials have revealed 11 children were transferred off Nauru today for medical attention, with another 52 minors remaining on the Pacific island.
Officials have amended the figure to 11 after initially saying it was 16.

The update comes as the federal Greens float a compromise agreement that could allow families to resettle in New Zealand with their families.

The Federal Government has indicated it may accept New Zealand's offer to take up to 150 refugees, but only if legislation passes Parliament ensuring people sent to offshore detention can never travel to Australia.

Home Affairs secretary Michael Pezzullo said that legislation, which has been sitting in Federal Parliament since 2016, would close a "back door" to dissuade further boat arrivals.

According to the latest figures, there are 652 people on Nauru, with 541 classed as refugees and 23 as failed asylum seekers. The status of another 88 is yet to be determined.

The United States has accepted 276 people as part of a resettlement deal and rejected an additional 148.

There is growing pressure from crossbench MPs for the Government to accept New Zealand's offer, with incoming independent Kerryn Phelps describing the issue as a first priority.

The Greens are now open to considering a travel ban for the group, but only if all children are first brought to Australia for medical treatment, and restrictions only applied to the cohort sent to New Zealand.

"We need to put the politics aside and look after these children, who are being traumatised and brutalised right now," leader Richard Di Natale told the ABC.

"If resettlement after that means resettlement in New Zealand with limited restrictions, just on that group, that's something we will consider.

"What we won't consider is putting bans or restrictions [on] those people who have been left behind.".....

Monday, 15 October 2018

Australian Politics 2018: Liberal and Nationals hard right agenda revealed


It appears the rigid hard-right core of the Liberal and National parties, whose face for public consumption is Prime Minister Scott Morrison, thought that Australian voters would find it acceptable that the only people that religious institutions of any denomination would not be able to discriminate against will be heterosexual individuals and those born with absent or ambiguous secondary sexual characteristics.

Everyone else would apparently be fair game for every rabid bigot across the land.

Gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender citizens and their children are not to be afforded the full protection of human rights and anti-discrimination law in this New World Order.

It doesn't get any clearer than the main thrust of the twenty recommendations set out  below.

However, now the cat is out of the bag Morrison is backtracking slightly. Just hours after arguing schools should be run consistent with their religious principles and that no existing exemption should be repealed, Scott Morrison told Sky News that he was "not comfortable" with private schools expelling gay students on the basis of their sexuality. 

Rejecting new enrolment applications by gay students was something he was careful not to directly address.

It should be noted that "not comfortable' leaves a lot of wiggle room to look the other way as state and federal legislation is either amended or new Commonwealth legislation created which would allow this blatant discrimination to lawfully occur.


Recommendation 1
Those jurisdictions that retain exceptions or exemptions in their anti-discrimination laws for religious bodies with respect to race, disability, pregnancy or intersex status should review them, having regard to community expectations.

Recommendation 2
Commonwealth, state and territory governments should have regard to the Siracusa Principles on the Limitation and Derogation Provisions in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights when drafting laws that would limit the right to freedom of religion.

Recommendation 3
Commonwealth, state and territory governments should consider the use of objects, purposes or other interpretive clauses in anti-discrimination legislation to reflect the equal status in international law of all human rights, including freedom of religion.

Recommendation 4
The Commonwealth should amend section 11 of the Charities Act 2013 to clarify that advocacy of a ‘traditional’ view of marriage would not, of itself, amount to a ‘disqualifying purpose’.

Recommendation 5
The Commonwealth should amend the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 to provide that religious schools can discriminate in relation to the employment of staff, and the engagement of contractors, on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status provided that:
The discrimination is founded in the precepts of the religion.
The school has a publicly available policy outlining its position in relation to the matter and explaining how the policy will be enforced.
The school provides a copy of the policy in writing to employees and contractors and prospective employees and contractors.

Recommendation 6
Jurisdictions should abolish any exceptions to anti-discrimination laws that provide for discrimination by religious schools in employment on the basis of race, disability, pregnancy or intersex status. Further, jurisdictions should ensure that any exceptions for religious schools do not permit discrimination against an existing employee solely on the basis that the employee has entered into a marriage.

Recommendation 7
The Commonwealth should amend the Sex Discrimination Act to provide that religious schools may discriminate in relation to students on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status provided that:
The discrimination is founded in the precepts of the religion.
The school has a publicly available policy outlining its position in relation to the matter.
The school provides a copy of the policy in writing to prospective students and their parents at the time of enrolment and to existing students and their parents at any time the policy is updated.
The school has regard to the best interests of the child as the primary consideration in its conduct.

Recommendation 8
Jurisdictions should abolish any exceptions to anti-discrimination laws that provide for discrimination by religious schools with respect to students on the basis of race, disability, pregnancy or intersex status.

Recommendation 9
State and territory education departments should maintain clear policies as to when and how a parent or guardian may request that a child be removed from a class that contains instruction on religious or moral matters and ensure that these policies are applied consistently. These policies should:
Include a requirement to provide sufficient, relevant information about such classes to enable parents or guardians to consider whether their content may be inconsistent with the parents’ or guardians’ religious beliefs
Give due consideration to the rights of the child, including to receive information about sexual health, and their progressive capacity to make decisions for themselves.

Recommendation 10
The Commonwealth Attorney-General should consider the guidance material on the Attorney-General’s Department’s website relating to authorised celebrants to ensure that it uses plain English to explain clearly and precisely the operation of the Marriage Act 1961. The updated guidance should include:
A clear description of the religious protections available to different classes of authorised celebrants, and
Advice that the term ‘minister of religion’ is used to cover authorised celebrants from religious bodies which would not ordinarily use the term ‘minister’, including non-Christian religions.

Recommendation 11
The Commonwealth Attorney-General should consider whether the Code of Practice set out in Schedule 2 of the Marriage Regulations 2017 is appropriately adapted to the needs of smaller and emerging religious bodies.

Recommendation 12
The Commonwealth should progress legislative amendments to make it clear that religious schools are not required to make available their facilities, or to provide goods or services, for any marriage, provided that the refusal:
Conforms to the doctrines, tenets or beliefs of the religion of the body
Is necessary to avoid injury to the religious susceptibilities of adherents of that religion.

Recommendation 13
Those jurisdictions that have not abolished statutory or common law offences of blasphemy should do so.

Recommendation 14
References to blasphemy in the Shipping Registration Regulations 1981, and in state and territory primary and secondary legislation, should be repealed or replaced with terms applicable not only to religion.

Recommendation 15
The Commonwealth should amend the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, or enact a Religious Discrimination Act, to render it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of a person’s ‘religious belief or activity’, including on the basis that a person does not hold any religious belief. In doing so, consideration should be given to providing for appropriate exceptions and exemptions, including for religious bodies, religious schools and charities.

Recommendation 16
New South Wales and South Australia should amend their anti-discrimination laws to render it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of a person’s ‘religious belief or activity’ including on the basis that a person does not hold any religious belief. In doing so, consideration should be given to providing for the appropriate exceptions and exemptions, including for religious bodies, religious schools and charities.

Recommendation 17
The Commonwealth should commission the collection and analysis of quantitative and qualitative information on the experience of freedom of religion in Australia at the community level, including:
Incidents of physical violence, including threats of violence, linked to a person’s faith
Harassment, intimidation or verbal abuse directed at those of faith
Forms of discrimination based on religion and suffered by those of faith
Unreasonable restrictions on the ability of people to express, manifest or change their faith
Restrictions on the ability of people to educate their children in a manner consistent with their faith
The experience of freedom of religion impacting on other human rights
The extent to which religious diversity (as distinct from cultural diversity)
is accepted and promoted in Australian society

Recommendation 18
The Commonwealth should support the development of a religious engagement and public education program about human rights and religion in Australia, the importance of the right to freedom of religion and belief, and the current protections for religious freedom in Australian and international law. As a first step, the panel recommends that the Attorney-General should ask the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights to inquire into and report on how best to enhance engagement, education and awareness about these issues.

Recommendation 19
The Australian Human Rights Commission should take a leading role in the protection of freedom of religion, including through enhancing engagement, understanding and dialogue. This should occur within the existing commissioner model and not necessarily through the creation of a new position.

Recommendation 20
The Prime Minister and the Commonwealth Attorney-General should take leadership of the issues identified in this report with respect to the Commonwealth, and work with the states and territories to ensure its implementation. While the panel hopes it would not be necessary, consideration should be given to further Commonwealth legislative solutions if required.

Because Scott Morrison made no secret of his dislike of same-sex marriage and his intention to make new laws protecting so-called religious 'freedoms'. he is now going to have a fight on his hands every single day until the next federal election - these recommendations have made that a certainty.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Religious Freedom Review Report: a curate's egg in the hands of an Australian prime minister who doesn't understand the definition of secular or why there is a separation between Church and State


"Australia is not a secular country — it is a free country. This is a nation where you have the freedom to follow any belief system you choose.”  [Scott Morrison, 2007]

“Secular [adj] of or pertaining to the world or things not religious, sacred or spiritual; temporal, worldly.” [Patrick Hanks & Simeon Potter, Encyclopedic World Dictionary, 1971]

On 22 November 2017 then Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the appointment of an Expert Panel to examine whether Australian law adequately protects the human right to freedom of religion.

The Panel’s Religious Freedom Review Report was delivered on 18 May 2018, accompanied by a statement that the report was now in the hands of the Prime Minister any government response was a matter for him.

The prime minister of the day is now the Liberal MP for Cook - a nakedly ambitious man who uses his public profession of Christian Pentecostal faith as a political tool.

Until this week the national electorate had no idea what the report might contain. It remained a closely guarded secret.

Which leads one to wonder if the leak which came Fairfax Media’s way is in fact Morrison preparing voters for what at best is highly likely to be proposed legislation which attempts to extend the exemptions religious institutions enjoy when it come to obeying human rights and anti-discrimination law and at worst an attempt to insert church into the heart of state.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 9 October 2018:

Religious schools would be guaranteed the right to turn away gay students and teachers under changes to federal anti-discrimination laws recommended by the government’s long-awaited review into religious freedom.

However the report, which is still being debated by cabinet despite being handed to the Coalition four months ago, dismisses the notion religious freedom in Australia is in “imminent peril”, and warns against any radical push to let businesses refuse goods and services such as a wedding cake for a gay couple.

The review was commissioned in the wake of last year’s same-sex marriage victory to appease conservative MPs who feared the change would restrict people’s ability to practise their religion freely.

The contents of the report - seen by Fairfax Media - are unlikely to placate conservatives and religious leaders, and will trigger concern within the LGBTI community about the treatment of gay students and teachers.

The report calls for the federal Sex Discrimination Act to be amended to allow religious schools to discriminate against students on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status - something some but not all states already allow.
“There is a wide variety of religious schools in Australia and ... to some school communities, cultivating an environment and ethos which conforms to their religious beliefs is of paramount importance,” the report noted.

“To the extent that this can be done in the context of appropriate safeguards for the rights and mental health of the child, the panel accepts their right to select, or preference, students who uphold the religious convictions of that school community.”

Any change to the law should only apply to new enrolments, the report said. The school would have to have a publicly available policy outlining its position, and should regard the best interests of the child as the “primary consideration of its conduct”.

The panel also agreed that faith-based schools should have some discretion to discriminate in the hiring of teachers on the basis of religious belief, sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status…..

The panel did not accept that businesses should be allowed to refuse services on religious grounds, warning this would “unnecessarily encroach on other human rights” and “may cause significant harm to vulnerable groups”.

The review also found civil celebrants should not be entitled to refuse to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies if they became celebrants after it was was legalised.
The review does not recommend any changes to the Marriage Act. Nor does it recommend a dedicated Religious Freedom Act - championed by several major Christian churches - which would have enshrined religious organisations’ exemptions from anti-discrimination laws.

“Specifically protecting freedom of religion would be out of step with the treatment of other rights,” the report found.

However it did recommend the government amend the Racial Discrimination Act or create a new Religious Discrimination Act, which would make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of a person’s religious belief or lack thereof.

The panel said it had heard a broad range of concerns about people’s ability to “manifest their faith publicly without suffering discrimination”.

This included wearing religious symbols and dress at school or work, communicating views based on religious understandings, obtaining goods and services and engaging in public life without fear of discrimination.

The report also recommends federal legislation “to make it clear” that religious schools cannot be forced to lease their facilities for a same-sex marriage, as long as the refusal is made in the name of religious doctrine.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison last month told Fairfax Media new religious freedom laws were needed to safeguard personal liberty in a changing society.

“Just because things haven’t been a problem in the past doesn’t mean they won’t be a problem in the future,” he said.

While the panel accepted the right of religious school to discriminate against students on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, it could see no justification for a school to discriminate on the basis of race, disability, pregnancy or intersex status.

“Schools should be places of learning, not breeding grounds of prejudice. This looks and feels like a vindictive attempt to punish LGBTI people for achieving marriage equality."  [just.equal spokesperson Rodney Croome, 2018]

As is usual for this prime minister, Morrison fronted the media with half-truths and misdirection about the Religious Freedom Review Reportimplying that the contentious matters within the report were already uniformly codified in law across all the states.

This is far from the truth.

Saturday, 29 September 2018

Quotes of the Week


“There are some people who seem to find it a very funny circumstance that last week, in full daylight, and in a main street of Cooktown, two black troopers, with their clothes in the same condition as those of a clumsy butcher’s apprentice, fresh from the shambles, exhibited a naked black girl, not twelve years old, as their newly caught prize. This young slave, taken by force . . . has since been transferred, either for payment or as a gift, to a citizen in this town, whose property she has now become. What were the circumstances that attended, or immediately followed, her capture we do not know, nor do we very much care to inquire ...”  [ Journalist & author Carl Feilberg writing in the Cooktown Courier in January 1877 ]


“Adding a new level of fear and uncertainty onto that with the findings coming out of a royal commission is going to harm the community as well as the industry,”  [CEO Clarence Village Ltd Duncan McKimm acting as an apologist for the aged care industry in The Daily Examiner ahead of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety]


Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Aged Care in Australia 2018: why government and the aged care industry make one want to weep in frustration


"The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members." [Attributed to Mahatma Ghandhi]

A little over five months ago the ABC program "4 Corners" asked people to contact its office to talk about their experience of the aged care system as staff, client or family member of an older person. 

Over four thousand Australians responded and the "Who Cares?" episode was produced and then aired on national television on 17 September 2018.

The day before this episode was scheduled for viewing Prime Minister and Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison made a rush announcement of a Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety - no terms of reference and no start date specified.

This royal commission if it goes forward this year will be the 21st review of the aged care system since 1997 - that's 21 reviews in 21 years.

Twenty-one years in which not one federal or state government has come to grips with the fact that there is a two-tier care system in operation based on the older person's ability to pay.

This plays out almost as apartheid in many aged care facilities, with separate wings in the building/s, separate nursing & other staff, separate meal choices and recreational activities.

It is also twenty-one more years in which older people of limited means have been almost warehoused. Receiving at best what can only be described as benign neglect and at worst extreme abuse.

No-one appears to being asking why so many older people entering residential care die within four years of admission (with death occurring on average around 2.5 years after admission) and why there is such a high percentage of premature deaths.

The incidence of premature and therefore potentially preventable death from the 11 principal external causes identified in a 2016 epidemiological analysis is apparently not going down over time and over the last ten or so years appears to be rising.

For over two decades registered charities, consumer groups and government watchdogs have never truly comes to grips with the basic realities of this two-tier care system.

A system which sees vulnerable older people verbally abused, threatened, physically beaten and deliberately denied appropriate basic care - reports of which can be found in the records of the federal Health Care Complaints Commission, state agencies such as the Nurses and Midwifery Council of New South Wales and in the media.

The day after the "4 Corners" program went to air, one representative of a registered charity which purports to represent older Australians was on national television condemning the types of abuse revealed in this program.

However, in the next breath - and almost in denial of such widespread abuse - he was talking about the need to understand why there was also excellent care in the aged care system and how residential aged care providers which meet or exceed Commonwealth aged care standards need to be rewarded.

He talked about some aged care providers being "world class" until the interviewer brought him back to looking at the ugly truth of the situation.

He was not alone in demonstrating how difficult it is for those associated with aged care to steadily fix their gaze on this seriously flawed system and insist that it be genuinely reformed.

It is hard not to see Scott Morrison's announcement of a royal commission as one meant to pre-empt the "4 Corners" program ahead of the Wentworth by-election on 20 October 2018 - given that the Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care & Liberal MP for Hasluck Ken Wyatt appeared lukewarm about the need for a royal commission into the aged care system just last month and, in the face of contrary evidence the Prime Minister continues to deny the controversial federal funding cuts to the sector by way a tweak of the Aged Care Funding Instrument to the tune of $1.2 billion in efficiency savings in the 2018-19 Budget.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Quote of the Week



We have lost our moral compass as a nation. And our new PM has been a huge part of the problem.  [Director of Legal Advocacy at Human Rights Law Centre Daniel Webb, Twitter, 31 August 2018]


Thursday, 23 August 2018

“Sneaky laws which declare you as guilty in the eyes of the law the minute the police say you are guilty” - Turnbull Government legislative overreach continues in 2018?



Sydney Criminal Lawyers, 16 August 2018:

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.

On 6 August, the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee recommended that the federal government pass the Unexplained Wealth Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 without any changes.

Unexplained wealth laws currently exist in every Australian jurisdiction, but the new scheme provides a broader model allowing for federal and state authorities to work in collaboration across jurisdictional borders to target serious and organised crime.
“The scale and complexity of this criminal threat has necessitated an enhanced focus on cooperative, cross-jurisdictional responses by Australian governments,” home affairs minister Peter Dutton said in the second reading speech of the bill.

However, critics of the scheme warn that existing unexplained wealth laws undermine the rule of law and broadening their scope will lead to a further erosion of civil liberties. And while these laws are meant to target untouchable crime bosses, they’re actually being used against petty criminals.

Presumption of guilt

“These beefed-up laws bring down all the secret surveillance and the swapping of scuttlebutt masquerading as intelligence on everyone in Australia,” Civil Liberties Australia CEO Bill Rowlings told Sydney Criminal Lawyers.

“The unexplained wealth laws completely overturn the presumption of innocence, which is part of our rule of law in Australia,” he continued. “They are sneaky laws which declare you as guilty in the eyes of the law the minute the police say you are guilty.”

Unexplained wealth laws are a recent development in Australia. But, unlike other proceeds of crime laws that allow for the confiscation of assets derived from prosecuted criminal acts, unexplained wealth places the onus upon the individual to prove their wealth was legally acquired.

“People don’t understand, under these laws the government can confiscate your assets even if you haven’t been found guilty of anything,” Mr Rowlings stressed.

Broadening the reach

The current Commonwealth unexplained wealth laws were introduced in 2010 via amendments made to the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Cth) (the Act).

These laws apply where there are “reasonable grounds to suspect” an individual’s assets have been derived from a committed federal offence, “a foreign indictable offence or a state offence that has a federal aspect.”

There are three sorts of orders that can be sought in relation to unexplained wealth. Section 20A of the Act provides that a court can issue an unexplained wealth restraining order, which is an interim order that restricts an individual’s ability to dispose of property.

Section 179B of the Act allows for the issuance of a preliminary order, which requires a person to appear in court to prove their wealth is legitimate. And under section 179E, an order can be issued requiring that the payment of an amount of wealth deemed unlawful be made to the government.

The new legislation amends sections 20A and 179E, so that these orders can be issued in respect to relevant offences of participating states, as well as in relation to territory offences. Relevant state offences will be outlined in state legislation that enables participation in the national scheme.

Sharing it around

The legislation broadens the access authorities have to an individual’s banking information in relation to an unexplained wealth investigation.

Section 213 of the Act allows certain authorised Commonwealth officers to issue access notices to financial institutions. This provision will now be extended to states and territory law enforcement agencies.

Proposed section 297C of the Act outlines how federal, state and territory governments will divvy up the seized wealth. A subcommittee will be established to distribute the money. And while any state that opts out of the scheme will be eligible for a share, it will be a less favourable amount.

The legislation also makes amendments to the sharing of information provisions contained in the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979.…..

Backdoor revenue raising

The NSW government has already introduced legislation into parliament, which enables that state to participate in the national scheme. The legislation sets out that the relevant offences the laws apply to are set out in section 6(2) of the Criminal Assets Recovery Act 1990.

NSW police minister Troy Grant told parliament that the legislation allows the state to refer matters to the Commonwealth, which then authorises the Australian federal police to use certain NSW offences as a basis for the confiscation of unexplained wealth.

But, Mr Rowlings states that the nationalising of the scheme will actually streamline a process that sees the unwarranted confiscation of wealth to prop up government coffers.

“The cash seized is paying for extra government lawyers to help seize more cash,” Mr Rowlings made clear, “so it’s a devious upward spiral where more and more unconvicted people will have their assets taken, and then have to prove their innocence or the government gets their assets.”

Read the full article here.