Tag Archives: Spencer Zifcak

SPENCER ZIFCAK. From Imbroglio to Fiasco: Malcolm Turnbull Loses the Plot on S.18C

The argument about the terms of Sections 18C and 18D of the Commonwealth Racial Discrimination Act (RDA) began with the case brought against the journalist, Andrew Bolt, now some six years ago. The temperature of the debate has risen and … Continue reading

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SPENCER ZIFCAK. Robert Manne v Ramesh Thakur v Gillian Triggs: What on Earth is Going On?

If one were ever in this situation, who would one wish to speak for them: George Brandis or Gillian Triggs? That’s the choice.  

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RAMESH THAKUR. AHRC President Gillian Triggs: a year of living dangerously. Part 2 of 3.

Asylum seekers and children in detention There are four separate issues that typically get lumped into one confusing debate: the policies on asylum seekers, boats turnback and offshore detention; and the treatment of detainees. 

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SPENCER ZIFCAK. The Federal Government Attacks its Watchers

In recent years, the Federal Government has made an art form of undermining the autonomy of independent statutory offices established to hold it to account. One by one, statutory offices have been subject to forceful governmental and media assaults.

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SPENCER ZIFCAK. Critique of Government’s attacks on civil society.

  UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders’ Scathing Critique of Government’s Attacks on Civil Society  In 1998, after 14 years of haggling, the UN General Assembly finally adopted the landmark UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. After another 10 … Continue reading

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SPENCER ZIFCAK. First Law Officer v Second Law Officer: George Brandis and Justin Gleeson in Conflict (Part 2)

In a previous article in these pages (SPENCER ZIFCAK. First Law Officer vs Second Law Officer: George Brandis undermines Justin Gleeson), I set down the core principles at stake in the present conflict between the Commonwealth Attorney-General, George Brandis, and … Continue reading

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SPENCER ZIFCAK. Freedom of Speech and the Racial Discrimination Act

  Within days of the July election result having finally been announced, forces within the Conservative faction of the Liberal-National party moved to re-open the debate on reform to S.18C of the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA). Section 18C makes it … Continue reading

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SPENCER ZIFCAK. Counter-terrorism and human rights.

I am presently in Paris. Along with many other countries, France faces a terrorism threat. France is grappling with the problem of how democracies can best handle threats of terrorism. In light of that I am reposting an earlier article … Continue reading

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SPENCER ZIFCAK. Chilcot: The War and the Law

  As is now well known, the Chilcot Report on the British Government’s planning, execution and aftermath of the Iraq war provided a scathing critique of almost every aspect of the Prime Minister’s and government’s conduct. There is one facet … Continue reading

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SPENCER ZIFCAK. First Law Officer vs Second Law Officer: George Brandis Undermines Justin Gleeson (Part 1)

  It has become a regrettable pattern in the legal world for Attorney-General, George Brandis, to seek to undermine holders of independent legal offices with whom he has disagreed. One thinks back only a year, to recall his vociferous attack … Continue reading

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SPENCER ZIFCAK. PNG Supreme Court Trumps Detention on Manus Island and Australia’s High Court too. It is regrettable that Australia does not have a similar Bill of Human Rights

In the latest legal saga to beset the Government’s troubled offshore processing program, the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea declared that the mandatory detention of asylum seekers from Australia on Manus Island was unconstitutional. The Court held that the … Continue reading

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Spencer Zifcak. Special Envoy on Human Rights. Ruddock. What?

In 2003, I wrote a short book entitled Mr Ruddock Goes to Geneva. The book was not as superficial as its title might have suggested. It was in fact a serious study of Australia’s vexed relationship with the UN Human … Continue reading

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Spencer Zifcak. Co-opting the Judiciary: Counter-Terrorism Laws at Work

Regrettably, one matter that has drifted to the sidelines in Australian debates about the operation of counter-terrorism laws is that these laws consistently marginalise and undermine the role of the judiciary. Judicial power, and hence the rule of law, is … Continue reading

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Spencer Zifcak. UN Human Rights Council Weighs in on Australia

On 21st of March 2000, an Australian delegation appeared before the UN Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in Geneva. The Hon Philip Ruddock, then Minister for Immigration in the Howard Government, led the delegation. … Continue reading

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Spencer Zifcak. Human rights inquiry and a Charter of Rights!

Tony Abbott and George Brandis always used strong rhetoric about the necessity to protect Australians’ traditional rights and freedoms. The reality under the Abbott government, however, was different. The rights of minority racial, religious, ethnic, refugee and environmental groups were … Continue reading

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Spencer Zifcak. Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights.

Fairness, Opportunity and Security. Policy series edited by Michael Keating and John Menadue. Do Human Rights Fit or Should We Just Forget About Them? Hard upon the ascent of violent terrorism in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere, and Australia’s … Continue reading

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Spencer Zifcak. Proportionality Lost: Australia’s New Counter-Terrorism Laws. Part 2

The Foreign Fighters Bill The second tranche of counter-terrorism legislation introduced by the Attorney-General, Senator Brandis, late last year was contained in the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Bill. This Bill (now passed into law) amended several Commonwealth Acts, most … Continue reading

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Spencer Zifcak. Proportionality Lost in Australia’s new Counter-Terrorism Laws. Part 1

The Attorney-General, George Brandis, crashed two major tranches of counter-terrorism law through federal parliament recently. As always there are two problems with such an approach: overkill and error. Both tranches demonstrate these deficits in abundance. It’s important to say that … Continue reading

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