find the latest legal job
Corporate Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Highly-respected, innovative and entrepreneurial Not-for-Profit · Competency based Board
View details
Chief Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Dynamic, high growth organisation · ASX listed market leader
View details
In-house Projects Lawyer | Renewables / Solar | 2-5 Years PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: All Australia
· Help design the future · NASDAQ Listed
View details
Insurance Lawyer (3-5 PAE)
Category: Insurance and Superannuation Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Dynamic organisation ·
View details
Legal Counsel
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: North Sydney NSW 2060
· 18 month fixed term contract · 3-5 years PQE with TMT exposure
View details
Dutton’s mega-ministry needs matching human rights protections: ALA

Dutton’s mega-ministry needs matching human rights protections: ALA

camera

The Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) has called for stronger human rights protections following the announcement of Australia’s new home affairs ministry.

Late last week the ALA called on the federal government to strengthen Australia’s human rights protections as an essential part of the creation of the new security agency.

Peter Dutton’s Home Affairs Ministry will include ASIO, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Border Force, the Australian Crime Intelligence Commission, AUSTRAC and the Office of Transport Security.

The move has been framed as a measure to strengthen national security and tackle the threat of terrorism. However, it could have serious implications for Australians’ privacy and liberty, according to the ALA.

ALA spokesman and barrister Greg Barns said the strengthening of Australia’s national security apparatus must be accompanied by a strengthening of its human rights protections, in line with those in allied countries. He said it is crucial that Australia implement an enforceable bill of rights, which would enable people to challenge the activities of security agencies if they felt their rights had been violated.

“The Prime Minister justified the proposed reforms by comparing Australia’s laws to those in the other countries which are a part of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing alliance,” Mr Barns said.

“However, what he failed to mention is that each of these countries has robust human rights protections to guard against excesses of intelligence agencies.

“The UK’s counter-terrorism activities can be examined both under the Human Rights Act in the UK and in the European Court of Human Rights. The USA regularly sees either laws, or the exercise of laws, overturned in the courts on the basis of constitutional human rights protections. One example of this was the courts overruling recent attempts by the US government to ban immigration from certain countries on security grounds.

“We don’t have the same human rights protections in Australia, while our counter-terrorism laws are among the most invasive.”

The ALA welcomed the call for a comprehensive review of Australia’s national security legislation, but rejected a recommendation that would expand the powers of security organisations to obtain warrants to conduct surveillance. 

“The warrants would be available to conduct surveillance of anyone that a security organisation believes is involved in a proscribed terrorist organisation,” Mr Barns said.

“This is a dramatic expansion of surveillance powers which, as far as the ALA is aware, does not exist in any of the other Five Eyes countries.”

However, the ALA welcomed the announcement that there will be increased oversight of security agencies.

“We look forward to details on this security agency oversight being consulted widely with lawyers, human rights experts and other civil society actors, as well as security and intelligence experts,” Mr Barns said.

“Transparency and accountability must underpin our national security policy.

“The default position should always be transparency. Only where there is a demonstrable need for secrecy on national security grounds should secrecy be allowed.”

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Dutton’s mega-ministry needs matching human rights protections: ALA
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
LCA president Fiona McLeod SC
Aug 17 2017
Where social fault lines meet the justice gap in Aus
After just returning from a tour of the Northern Territory, LCA president Fiona McLeod SC speaks wit...
Marriage equality flag
Aug 17 2017
ALHR backs High Court challenge to marriage equality postal vote
Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) has voiced its support for a constitutional challenge to ...
Give advice
Aug 17 2017
A-G issues advice on judiciary’s public presence
Commonwealth Attorney-General George Brandis QC has offered his advice on the public presence of jud...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...