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August 8, 2014

Australian government prepares legislation to restrict travel of Australian fighters overseas

Australian government prepares legislation to restrict travel of Australian fighters overseas

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Friday, August 8, 2014

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On Tuesday, the Australian Cabinet approved the “Counter Terrorism Foreign Fighters Bill” which is to be introduced into the Australian Parliament between August 26 and September 4. The bill follows after the “National Security Legislation Amendment Bill” which was introduced into the Parliament on July 16 and is now before the Australian Senate.

Attorney-General George Brandis mentioned at a joint press conference in Canberra on Tuesday, he has “been asked to develop — in consultation with relevant stakeholders, in particular, in the telecommunications sector — a system of mandatory data retention. That legislation has been approved in principle and is in development from today and is to be introduced into Parliament later in the year”. As Tony Abbott mentioned, “the Government’s proposals to change 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act […] are now off the table”.

The proposed legislation would change the “Commonwealth Crimes Act“, to include provisions currently found in the separate “Crimes (Foreign Incursions and Recruitment) Act”. It would expand the definition of armed hostilities, to keep up-to-date with the current terrorist activities, from “The Terrorism, Incursions and Recruitment Act” of 1978. An important provisions of the proposed laws would make traveling to places with active terrorism an offence, as defined by the Minister for Foreign Affairs. With stated intention of “preserving national unity”, Tony Abbott cancelled controversial changes to section 18C of the discrimination act which George Brandis had promoted.

“Not everyone who goes to the Middle East is a bad person”, cautioned Labor Party leader Bill Shorten. “I think we have to be very careful in this complex situation about demonising Australians of Middle-Eastern backgrounds […] So I think we need to be balanced in our approach, maintain our national security but also not try and blame everyone or tar everyone with the same brush.”

“There’s no question that Australia needs to be vigilant against terrorism but we must insist on ways to protect Australians from terrorism without overturning the fundamentals of our justice system”, said Greens Senator Penny Wright. “Clearly we would need to see the detail of any legislation but as it’s been described so far, it seems that this legislation could see Red Cross and other humanitarian workers in declared zones having to face court to prove they’re not terrorists. This law could also see Australian journalists reporting from countries like Syria or Iraq presumed guilty of terrorism.”

Penny Wright also warned against removing the legislation’s sunset clause. “The Australian Greens would be very concerned about any legislation that further restricts civil liberties and removes scrutiny and oversight. There’s a very important balance to strike between security and freedoms, and we would not want to see very legitimate security concerns be used to permanently erode human rights.”

There has been a significant increase in Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) cancellations of Australian passports over the last year. To make it easier for ASIO to complete security assessment of suspected individuals, the government-announced proposals include the power to temporarily suspend an Australian passport, or foreign passport of a dual national, on ASIO request, a change recommended by the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor.



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Sister links

  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Australian anti-terrorism legislation, 2004
  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Anti-Terrorism Act 2005

Sources

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This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

March 28, 2005

Australia silent on UN racism committee condemnation

Australia silent on UN racism committee condemnation

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Monday, March 28, 2005

The Australian government has been keeping quiet about a UN committee’s repeated criticism of its record on race issues. A report issued over two weeks ago by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has not received comment from the government in the media, and domestic media coverage has been scant, as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, and confirmed by a search of news search engine news.google.com.

According to Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR) National Director David Cooper before the case was heard by the UN committee, “We fully expect the government is going to deflect it by criticising the UN process.”

In fact, this criticism was given in the session, and nothing has been heard from the Australian Federal Government since, on the committee hearing and report.

After reciting a list of Australian anti-racism initiatives, ambassador to the UN Mike Smith, described the 18 committee members’ work in the previous session five years ago as “cursory” and “unreasonable”. He said they had largely ignored progress being made in Australia, yet displayed “an unquestioning acceptance” of critics of the Government.

Regis de Gouttes of France called Mr Smith “exceptionally rude”.

Jose Lindgren Alves of Brazil told him, “As a veteran diplomat, this statement, with its language describing programs and attacks on NGOs, reminds me of the sort of statement from communist bloc countries and Latin American dictatorships that Australia used to condemn.”

The committee was positive about a number of improvements in race-related issues in Australia over the five years since its last report. These were,

  • the criminalising of acts and incitement of racial hatred in most Australian States and Territories
  • progress in the economic, social and cultural rights by indigenous

peoples

  • commitment of state and federal governments to work together on the issues
  • programmes and practices among the police and the judiciary, aimed at reducing the number of indigenous juveniles entering the criminal justice system
  • the abolition of mandatory sentencing in the Northern Territory
  • the adoption of a Charter of Public Service in a Culturally Diverse Society to ensure that government services are provided in a way that is sensitive to the language and cultural needs of all Australians
  • and the numerous human rights education programmes developed by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC).

However the report contained a large number of serious criticisms, and a reminder that the Convention prohibits direct as well as indirect discrimination. Australia was asked to report back on progress on a number of items within one year.

The criticisms were,

  • that there was nothing to stop racially discriminative Commonwealth laws
  • proposed reforms to HREOC that may limit its independence and hinder its effectiveness at monitoring Australia’s compliance with the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  • the abolition of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC), an elected body of indigenous representatives, the main policy-making body in Aboriginal affairs
  • a lack of legislation criminalising serious acts or incitement of racial hatred, in the Commonwealth, the State of Tasmania and the Northern Territory
  • that reported prejudice against Arabs and Muslims had increased
  • that counter-terrorism legislation may have an indirect discriminatory effect against Arab and Muslim Australians
  • reportedly biased treatment of asylum-seekers by the media
  • difficulty in gaining successful litigation under the Racial Discrimination Act in the absence of direct evidence
  • that no cases of racial discrimination, as distinct from racial hatred, have been successfully litigated in the Federal courts since 2001
  • reversal since 1998 of progress made under 1993’s Native Title Act and Mabo case, with new legal certainty for government and third parties provided at the expense of indigenous title
  • diverging perceptions between governmental authorities and indigenous peoples and others on the compatibility of the 1998 amendments to the Native Title Act with the Convention
  • that proof of continuous observance and acknowledgement of the laws and customs of indigenous peoples since the British acquisition of sovereignty over Australia is required to establish native title
  • very poor conditions of employment, housing, health, education and income for indigenous Australians, compared with non-indigenous
  • mandatory sentencing in Western Australia, which disproportionately impacts indigenous Australians
  • the “striking over-representation” of indigenous people in prison, and dying in custody
  • that indigenous women are the fastest growing prison population
  • allegations, accompanied by State denials, of discrimination in the grant of visas against Asian and Muslim people
  • Australia’s mandatory detention of migrants determined to be illegal, including asylum-seekers, particularly when it affects women, children, unaccompanied minors, and the stateless
  • that many have been in detention for over three years
  • lack of access by many migrants and protected refugees to social security
  • precariousness of circumstances, and denial of right of family reunion, for many protected refugees
  • that the Federal Government has rejected most of the recommendations adopted by the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation given in 2000

Sources

External links

  • Rights Australia. “Research & Papers” — Rights Australia, viewed March 28, 2005
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This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

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