Submission: The dangers of unregulated biometrics use

The Human Rights Law Centre told a Parliamentary Committee that the federal government’s proposed new powers to undertake facial recognition identification and surveillance are dangerously overbroad, and could dramatically alter the freedom of ordinary people going about their daily lives. New laws proposed by the Department of Home Affairs would authorise the creation of a “dragnet database”, compiling images of innocent Australians – including children – from their drivers’ licences, identification cards and passport photos.

Download the HRLC submission here

Submission: Reforming Queensland's Outdated Abortion Laws

This submission responds to the Queensland Law Reform Commission's review of termination of pregnancy laws. Queensland has a unique opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to women's health and equality by comprehensively reforming the state's outdated abortion laws, which are hopelessly out of step with community standards and clinical practice. Queensland should reform its abortions laws to ensure safe and equitable access to abortion services for women for years to come and to respect women as competent decision-makers over their bodies and lives.

Download the HRLC submission here.

Submission: Response to secrecy offence amendments proposed by the Attorney-General's Department

The Human Rights Law Centre has welcomed to the government’s proposed secrecy laws put forward by the Attorney-General’s Department, but warned that significant work still needs to be done to bring the bill into line with principles of freedom of expression and open government. Following an earlier written submission and evidence to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, the HRLC has responded to these amendments in a supplementary submission to the Committee’s inquiry into the National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill 2017.

Download the HRLC submission here.
Download the HRLC's original submission here.
Read the Attorney-General's proposed amendments here.

Submission: Next steps for equality

Over the past 18 months, the South Australian Government has passed a range of legislative reforms and introduced government policies to ensure fairness and equality for LGBTIQ South Australians. South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill delivered a historic and heartfelt apology to LGBTIQ people for the discrimination that was written into South Australian laws. These reforms received cross-party support and were warmly welcomed by South Australians. No other state or territory has passed the sheer number and range of laws within such a short period of time. However, more remains to be done to tackle the systemic discrimination and disadvantage experienced by LGBTIQ people.

Download the HRLC submission here

Submission: Protecting fundamental rights and freedoms in Australia

Despite recent reforms to the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) (Marriage Act), lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people continue to face significant discrimination and disadvantage in Australia. Discrimination entrenched in laws and policies or experienced at work, school or home, contributes to alarmingly high rates of suicide, self-harm and depression among LGBTI populations. Any proposals considered to advance religious freedom must not come at the expense of the health, well-being and safety of LGBTI people.

Download the HRLC submission here

Submission: Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017

The HRLC is concerned that the Bill runs the risk of regulating participation in public debate on political matters at large, without sufficient connection to elections. Rather than incur the costs or run the compliance risks built into the proposed regime, civil society organisations are likely to choose to refrain from the public expression of their views to avoid the requirement to register and all that flows from it. The pressure to refrain from engaging in activities that create compliance risks will be especially strong on smaller organisations. This would harm public debate in Australia by discouraging voices that pose no risk of undue or improper influence on Australia’s system of elections.

Download the HRLC submission here.

Following the submission, the HRLC addressed concerns raised by the Bill, download letter here

Submission: Secrecy offences: the wrong approach to necessary reform

The Australian government has introduced legislation to federal Parliament overhauling Commonwealth secrecy offences. The Human Rights Law Centre has told a parliamentary committee about the serious concerns raised by the new criminal offences for handling government information, concluding that the proposed regime has no place in a healthy democracy, in which open government and the freedom to scrutinise government must be maintained.

Download the HRLC submission here.

Submission: Putting an end to the over-criminalisation of public drinking in the Northern Territory

The Northern Territory police’s excessive lock up powers are being used unfairly and disproportionately against Aboriginal people, which in turn increases the risk of deaths in custody, the Human Rights Law Centre has told an expert panel undertaking a review of the Northern Territory’s alcohol laws.

Download the HRLC submission here.

Read the media release accompanying the submission here

Submission: Review of the Australian National Contact Point

Ideally, the ANCP’s role should be to promote corporate good behaviour in accordance with the Guidelines and to try to help resolve disputes between complainants and companies in an objective and constructive manner. Unfortunately, as this submission sets out, the ANCP has a poor record in performing these functions. It conducts little outreach, its processes are opaque and slow-moving, it frequently fails to follow important aspects of the Guidelines and it evidences a concerning lack of objectivity and due process in the way it handles complaints, with few meaningful outcomes.

Download the HRLC submission here