Author Archives: Ian Cunliffe

Ian Cunliffe

About Ian Cunliffe

Lawyer, formerly senior federal public servant (CEO Constitutional Commission, CEO Law Reform Commission, Department of PM&C, Protective Security Review and first Royal Commission on Intelligence and Security; High Court Associate (1971) ; partner of major law firms. Awarded Premier's Award (2018) and Law Institute of Victoria's President's Award for pro bono work (2005).

Australia’s unnecessary involvement in various wars

Our Prime Ministers and other senior Ministers must bear the greatest responsibility for atrocious decisions to involve us in wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Vietnam. They have shown repeatedly that they are not up to the task.

Posted in Defence and Security | Leave a comment

Robodebt is far from dead, buried and cremated

Those who closely follow the news will believe that the dreaded Robodebt has been slain, “dead, buried and cremated”, with the Federal Government agreeing at the door of the court on 16 November to settle the Robodebt class action. But … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 9 Comments

It is a gross injustice to Mr Moselmane.  Beyond gross.

The attacks on Mr Moselmane began months before the raids, with journalists and shock jocks being backgrounded to demonise him.   Sky News’ Peta Credlin broadcast “If we really have foreign agent laws, why isn’t Moselmane being looked at?”  She knew … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 11 Comments

Inside the Canberra Bubble

After the Four Corners program “Inside the Canberra Bubble”, I was asked whether, assuming there was any truth to the allegations made, there were any implications for a Federal ICAC. 

Posted in Politics | 4 Comments

Fear and loathing of China is poppycock.

Australia seems often to act like a junior gang member who is hyper anxious to impress the leader of the gang….Annoying China is good politics but bad leadership.

Posted in China | 5 Comments

Review of ‘The Eleventh’ on podcast ABC

The ABC 2020 podcast, “The Eleventh” re-examines the events around the dismissal of the Whitlam Government 45 years ago, on 11 November 1975.  The podcast is very penetrating but also very long and detailed.  Some revelations from the podcast deserve … Continue reading

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Australian foreign interference laws.Rupert Murdoch and Duong Di Sanh

Murdoch is an American, but he has a major impact on our elections, and works insidiously, for example, to sabotage efforts to get Australian Governments to act effectively against climate change. His empire also works surreptitiously at undermining that most … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 8 Comments

US leading Australia on China

Many of our political and thought leaders in Australia seem in the past couple of years to have followed the US into a mindset that de facto China is the enemy.  It seems a very uncomfortable position for Australia, given … Continue reading

Posted in World Affairs | 6 Comments

A Clayton’s Integrity Commission?

Some readers will recall the major marketing campaign in the 1970s and 1980s for a non-alcoholic drink called Claytons, which looked like and was packaged to resemble whisky: “the drink you have when you’re not having a drink” was the … Continue reading

Posted in Politics, Top 5 | 4 Comments

Is it time for Federal Integrity Body or should we just turn off the life support machine for integrity in the federal public sector?  

It is not a pretty picture.  Bernard Keane writing in Crikey said recently: “Everywhere you look in the Morrison government, you see sleaze and self-interest, if not outright corruption. Merely itemising the current scandals on foot is an arduous task.”

Posted in Politics, Top 5 | 11 Comments

Covid:  How are we going?  Facts and spin

Impressions can be more important than the facts – that was the case even before Trump demonstrated that a good tweet is worth a thousand facts.  

Posted in Politics | 2 Comments

We the people have a right to know.

Two issues largely treated as separate have got increasing attention in Australia this Millennium. The first is whether the activities of governments are sufficiently transparent, whether a lack of transparency breeds incompetence and corruption, and whether we need a federal … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 2 Comments

Following up on Otto and Eric Abetz

A Google search for the German-born Abetz’ condemnation of the Nazis produced very little, except that, according to Wikipedia, his great uncle, Otto Abetz, was a convicted war criminal, a Nazi SS officer and the German ambassador to Vichy France. 

Posted in Politics | 4 Comments

Dan Oakes, Witness K and Bernard Collaery

Dear Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, please demonstrate that the decisions whether or not to prosecute, and the decisions to continue the prosecutions of Collaery and K, are not influenced by possible political advantage, disadvantage or embarrassment to the Government.  … Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights, Politics, Top 5 | 15 Comments

Abetz fearlessly proclaims he is not a Fascist by birth

Likely, none of the three distinguished Australians of Chinese ethnicity appearing a Senate committee hearing expected to be comprehensively done over by two ideologues from the Australian right – Senators Eric Abetz and Concetta Fierravanti-Wells.

Posted in Politics | Tagged | 14 Comments

Will the US survive the next three months of Trump?

There’s a terrible prospect that few seem strong enough to contemplate. Sensible people who care about the future of the USA should hope that Joe Biden wins the vote on 3 November by a landslide.  Otherwise literally terrible outcomes are … Continue reading

Posted in World Affairs | 6 Comments

Why the resistance to a national anti-corruption commission?

Scott Morrison and Christian Porter are insisting that a new federal integrity body could not look at old corruption. What is that about? Is it because there are skeletons in too many people’s closet? Is it the extent to which … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | Tagged | 6 Comments

Australian Values for new citizens

Last month the acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, Alan Tudge announced that from November, there will be an updated Australian Citizenship Test which for the first time will include a section on Australian values.

Posted in Politics | 9 Comments

Is the Foreign Interference Law just about China?

Having on the statute books a very serious crime, committed by dozens of people every day but which is only enforced selectively, is a grave breach of the Rule of Law. It gives the government the power to criminalise the … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 4 Comments

“Disgraceful” Tudge puts him self above the law

Late last month, the Federal Court’s found that Minister, Alan Tudge engaged in criminal conduct by keeping an asylum-seeker in detention and depriving of his liberty for five days in defiance of an order by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal that the man … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 2 Comments

Sports rorts and muddy waters

Last summer, just like much of the country, the federal political landscape was ablaze.  Scott Morrison was caught out taking a secret holiday in Hawaii; and those who weren’t evacuating from bushfires were very angry about sports rorts. 

Posted in Politics | Tagged | 1 Comment

Christian Porter has shown himself unfit to be federal Attorney–General

By his response last week to the Federal Court’s finding that Immigration Minister Alan Tudge engaged in criminal conduct by detaining an asylum-seeker for five days in defiance of an order by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), Christian Porter has … Continue reading

Posted in Politics, Top 5 | 8 Comments

Banks behaving badly again and get only a rap over the knuckles

Westpac has agreed to pay $1.3 billion for breaching anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing laws more than 23 million times. That is a lot of money. But it translates to just $56.52 per offence. AUSTRAC says it send a … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 4 Comments

The Foreign Interference law is more a political stunt. But what about Rupert Murdoch’s foreign interference?

Rupert Murdoch and NewsCorp are currently campaigning to have the ABC neutered.  Murdoch is a foreigner, as NewsCorp would seem to be.  Australians and others are allegedly doing Murdoch’s bidding, with the intention to “influence a political or governmental process”; … Continue reading

Posted in Politics, Top 5 | Tagged | 15 Comments

Australian values and obligations: a follow up

We often hear politicians spouting about ‘mutual obligation” – usually in the context of Centrelink benefits or the like.  The emphasis seems always to be on what the recipient of benefits must do – not on the obligation of Centrelink … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 2 Comments

Australian values: what are they and what has Covid done to them?

Australia is the only common law country with neither a constitutional nor federal legislative bill of rights. Only a few rights are constitutionally protected. For the most part, we have all the rights that Parliament and the common law have … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 5 Comments

Juukan Gorge – the thick plotens

Under cross-examination, Federal Environment Minister, Sussan Ley made two major admissions on ABC Radio National last Friday over the destruction of the two ancient Aboriginal rock shelters at Juukan Gorge. The shelters had been inhabited for 46,000 years, and now … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 6 Comments

The atrocious foreign interference law – It doesn’t add up  ​

When, for example, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) receives grants from the US State Department to undertake research projects it is an admission that it is engaging in conduct on behalf of a foreign principal.

Posted in Defence and Security, Top 5 | Tagged | 5 Comments

Robodebt and suicide

Department head stubbornly avoids answering questions on the role of Robodebt and the death of Australians and whether she apologised for those deaths.

Posted in Health, Politics | Leave a comment

Judicial independence: the Nazi or the Australian way?

In an age when the Parliament nearly always does the bidding of the elected government and in a country which, uniquely amongst democratic nations, has no Bill of Rights, the courts are vitally important as a protection against arbitrary power. 

Posted in Human Rights, Politics | Leave a comment