This week RoLIA Vice President, Malcolm Stewart, was interviewed by senior writer for the Melbourne Age, John Watson, about the creep of coercive powers in Australia. Extracts from the article entitled ‘More Power, Fewer Rights’ and links to the full text can be found below:

Malcolm Stewart, vice-president of the Rule of Law Institute of Australia, says the commission is ”the most secretive body in Australia” after the spy agencies. Yet, he says, it released a report based on incomplete investigations and untested intelligence. ”I can only describe that report as a smear on sport in Australia.’ …

The Rule of Law Institute was set up in 2009 in response to the growth of agencies’ powers ”in what we thought was an uncontrolled way”, Stewart says.

For example, he says, at one time state agencies had to prove a person was guilty before they could take punitive action. Now, in many circumstances, that person must prove they have not done anything wrong.

The reversal of the onus of proof began with the Tax Office and has spread to employment and unfair dismissal laws, occupational health, ”unexplained wealth” seizure powers, and anti-discrimination legislation.
Stewart says rule of law principles are not adhered to as much as they have been in the past. ‘You see this massive spread of powers governments are giving themselves.’

Read more on The Age.