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Block Dutton's attack on our rights!

ABC journalists behind bars with headline from the Guardian "'Chilling attack on democracy': proposed Asio powers could be used against journalists"
A team of top barristers – commissioned by GetUp members – have come out swinging against Peter Dutton's push to give his spy agency ASIO sweeping new powers to track, surveil and question citizens.1

Our legal advice is clear - Dutton's laws would have a chilling effect on journalists breaking politically significant stories and whistleblowers speaking out.

And if that isn't scary enough, Peter Dutton could use these powers against journalists, environmental and human rights groups.

We need to get our expert legal advice in front of the super-secret parliamentary committee determining the fate of these laws.

Can you help get this legal advice in front of those who have the power to stop this bill?
The most important thing is to introduce yourself, and say why you think blocking these dangerous laws is important.

You could also mention:
  • Investigating barristers have deemed the ASIO Amendment Bill 2020 a chilling attack on democracy and warned it could destroy our free press.
  • Dutton's laws would have a chilling effect on journalists breaking politically significant stories, intimidate brave whistleblowers from speaking out and could see journalists jailed for five years if they refuse to reveal their sources.
  • These laws could target anyone seen as a threat. That means journalists, activists, members of civil society groups, or anyone who holds government to account.
  • Lowering the age of questioning from 16 to 14 would be a breach of Australia's international obligation under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
GetUp members chipped in to obtain independent legal advice investigating Dutton's proposed changes, and how we can stop them.

Here's what the team of top barristers found:
  • Peter Dutton's push to expand ASIO powers would have a chilling effect on press freedom, journalists ability to do their job, and intimidate whistleblowers from speaking out.
  • Journalists aren't provided any protection under these laws and could face five years jail for refusing to reveal their sources.
  • The advice specifically warns these laws would have a "chilling effect on the willingness of people to speak to journalists about issues of political significance…. [and] a decrease in media coverage and reporting on those matters thereby inhibiting public debate".
  • ASIO's powers would be so far-reaching that they could be used to clamp down on civil society organisations and political advocacy groups, including environment, human rights, and refugee groups.
  • Legal experts say this could "undermine the important role played by civil society organisations in holding government to account".
  • The proposal to lowering the age of questioning from 16 to 14, and powers that would be given to ASIO to interrogate children as young as 14, would be a breach of Australia's international obligation under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  • These changes would make Australia a world leader in state-sanctioned tracking of citizens and coercive questioning powers - going further than any other Five Eyes country.

  • Politicians from across the spectrum should listen to legal experts and block these dangerous changes from becoming law. But first, they need to read it. Help send this legal advice to those who need to see it most.
The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security is one of Parliament's most secret and powerful committees and it's determining the fate of Dutton's laws:
  • It's a government-controlled committee that operates like a fortress, with independent and cross-bench MP's shut out of any form of participation or scrutiny.
  • Prominent politicians on the committee have already spoken out about the secrecy that veils national security going "too far" and the laws overreach on children's rights.
  • And former Human Rights Commissioner, Tim Wilson, who calls himself the "strongest advocate" for a free press sits on this committee.
  • Only Liberal and Labor MP's are members, which means they've got final say on the future of Dutton's laws
It's the best chance we've got to stop Dutton's laws right in their tracks, but only if we bust down the doors of their secret deliberations by calling on them to listen to the experts.
Not loading on mobile? You can also read and download the full advice here

References: [1] 'Chilling attack on democracy': proposed Asio powers could be used against journalists, The Guardian, 20 October 2020

Help send our legal advice to the committee!

You don't need to be a lawyer to oppose Dutton's sweeping new powers!

A link to the full legal advice will be attached to your message. Just introduce yourself and say why you think the PJCIS committee members should heed expert advice and block Dutton's legislation.

Check out our talking points if you need more help on what to say!

Please note, your email will be sent to all members of PJCIS.

NB: Your details will be added to the bottom of the email sent.

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