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Government launches 'rights and freedoms' inquiry

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Internet freedomistas and lovers of individual liberty are celebrating that the Federal Government has decided to launch a review into laws “that encroach upon traditional rights, freedoms and privileges”...

Or they were, until they read through to the end of the announcement by Attorney-General George Brandis, and discovered that the Australian Law Reform Commission is being instructed to focus “in particular” on “commercial and corporate regulation, environmental regulation, and workplace relations”.

The A-G's media release says “This is a major instalment towards the commitment I made to restore the balance around the issue of human rights in Australia”, adding that ““For too long we have seen freedoms of the individual diminish and become devalued.”

Hence freedoms of speech, religion, movement and association are listed as being encroached – as previously noted, in particular by commercial, environmental and workplace regulation.

The A-G has recently received a report into Copyright and the Digital Economy from the ALRC, but has not yet tabled this in parliament. In late October, according to The Australian, Senator Brandis re-floated the idea of imposing blocks on file-sharing sites.

Senator Brandis' brief also fails to mention his department's oversight of the spy agencies ASIO and ASIS, implicated in recent spying scandals, but the ALRC's brief is wide enough to take their enabling legislation into account – if the twelve-month duration for the inquiry leaves it sufficient time. ®

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