To the Prime Minister, Attorney General and the Minister for Immigration we expressed our concerns about the growing erosion of human, civil and legal rights in Australia. We specified:

  1. The total power given to Immigration Minister to rule on the fate of asylum seekers.
  2. The Secrecy Act and the threat of two-year imprisonment for staff reporting child abuse in detention centres.
  3. The absence of judicial oversight into the new extensive coercive powers given to the Crime Commission and Immigration and Border Protection agencies.
  4. The federal police can now ‘on reasonable suspicion’ declare a private property to be proceeds of crime and have it forfeited, without criminal charges being laid.
  5. Public attacks by Members of Parliament on the president of the independent Human Rights Commission, Professor Gillian Triggs, in response to her report on the brutal conditions affecting children in offshore detention centres.
  6. The severe cuts to funding of legal aid, depriving-many of access to justice and equality before the law.

We accept the need for new laws to deal with the rise of new threats to our security, but the lack of checks and balances and judicial oversight, damages our democracy.

Halina Strnad

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