Author Archives: Spencer Zifcak
Susan Ryan, the minister for education in the Hawke Government and the pioneer who brought Australia its Sex Discrimination Act, died very recently. This is a remembrance from a friend.
The prosecution of former ACT Attorney-General, Bernard Collaery, and his client, Witness K, continues to play itself out before the ACT Supreme Court. This is a legal fiasco of the first order. The prosecution should never have commenced.
A disturbing and distressing new development has occurred in the Commonwealth’s policies with respect to immigration detention. Pursuant to an amendment to the Migration Act (Cth), non-citizens who have committed criminal offences in Australia are now subject, under s.501, to … Continue reading
The Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, has introduced new, comprehensive powers for ASIO. The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Amendment Bill 2020 repeals ASIO’s existing questioning and detention warrant framework and introduces a reformed and extended compulsory questioning scheme. The … Continue reading
The Religious Discrimination Bill, introduced by the Attorney-General Christian Porter, has its flaws. Nevertheless, it walks a more or less acceptable line between arch proponents and critics of the recent campaign for greater religious freedoms. The Government has produced relatively … Continue reading
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) raids on journalists from News Corporation and the ABC have caused very considerable community consternation. The fact that these raids occurred in the immediate aftermath of the recent election and within a day of each … Continue reading
SPENCER ZIFCAK. The Federal Government Corrodes the Independence of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal
The Federal Government Corrodes the Independence of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal The Commonwealth Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) is a quasi-judicial body designed to promote the rule of law and good government by enabling citizens to call into question the decisions … Continue reading
Two new legal actions designed to put an end to Australia’s policy of offshore processing have just landed at the High Court of Australia. In a novel twist, the cases will not depend on the High Court’s interpretation of the … Continue reading
SPENCER ZIFCAK. No Friend But the Mountains’:* Behrouz Boochani’s Extraordinary Narrative Of Life on Manus Island
Behrouz Boochani is an Iranian journalist, writer and refugee. He arrived in Australian waters by boat seeking refuge after a near fatal journey from Indonesia. He never made it to the mainland. Kevin Rudd had shut down access to Australia. … Continue reading
SPENCER ZIFCAK. The Attorney-General, the ASIS Officer and his Lawyer: The Story of the Shameful Timor Prosecution
Last week the Attorney-General, Christian Porter, announced that he had approved the prosecution of Witness K, a former ASIS operative and his lawyer, Bernard Collaery, a former Attorney-General of the ACT. They are to be prosecuted for a breach of … Continue reading
Eurydice Dixon was raped and murdered no more than shouting distance from where I live. Had she screamed I might have heard her cry from across Melbourne Cemetery. But if she did, no one heard her.
About two months ago, Peter Dutton’s Department of Home Affairs took a decision that will have momentous consequences. In an initiative, given no publicity, the Minister decided that the substantial majority of asylum seekers awaiting the determination of their applications … Continue reading
The former Commissioner of the Australian Border Force (ABF), Roman Quaedvlieg, made a remarkable admission last week. It occurred in an exchange on Twitter with a former senior medical officer who had worked with refugees on Nauru. In a tweet, … Continue reading
Nils Melzer is the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment. Recently, he presented a damning report to the UN Human Rights Council on the subjection of refugees across the world to torture. Melzer’s fundamental contention … Continue reading
Two weeks ago, Australia was chosen as one of two new member nations on the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). Before one gets too excited about this achievement it is worth noting that our country’s election was uncontested. There were three … Continue reading
It’s been quite a month. At least seven members of the Federal Parliament have been referred to the High Court to determine their eligibility to have been elected, and there is a real prospect of an outcome that could cost … Continue reading
SPENCER ZIFCAK. What’s Wrong with Peter Dutton’s New Super Ministry? The Preparation, the Institution, and the Politician Perhaps?
Peter Dutton is to be given a fiefdom – the new, massive Department of Home Affairs. Peta Credlin responded immediately by saying that the creation of the new department had the ‘stink of a prime minister who’s under pressure and … Continue reading
In Victoria’s Court of Appeal last Friday, an encounter unprecedented in Australian legal and political history played itself out. Through the Commonwealth Solicitor-General (SG) three Commonwealth Government Ministers made an abject apology to the Court.
So, the Australian Government has settled a class action brought by asylum seekers detained on Manus Island for $70,000,000. Apparently, the settlement was reached because the Government was fearful of the evidence and stories of official abuse that would have … Continue reading
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
If one were ever in this situation, who would one wish to speak for them: George Brandis or Gillian Triggs? That’s the choice.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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