Metadata retention laws renew Australia’s fight for rights


Amensty International Advisor Carly Nyst at the Global Integrity Summit in Brisbane. Source: Janelsa Ouma
Amensty International Advisor Carly Nyst at the Global Integrity Summit in Brisbane. Source: Janelsa Ouma

The recent enactment of metadata retention laws has reignited the debate on human rights in Australia.

What have many critics frustrated is how seemingly easy it was for the government to pass the metadata retention laws and put it into action sooner than expected, leaving some wondering whether or not the trade off for safety is worth the cost of privacy.

Amnesty International Advisor Carly Nyst said the government’s use of the term ‘freedom’ in its defence of the laws is misleading, especially when human rights in Australia have been severely neglected.

“We don’t have a human rights activist country and that’s a huge failing of our government,” Ms Nyst said.

“The Government has been very strategic in getting people to talk about freedoms instead of talking about rights,” she said.

“Because there’s no such thing as human freedom, there’s every such thing as a human right.”

America has weighed in on Australia’s fight for rights expressing that due to the nation’s negotiable convention of freedom of speech and our abolished gun laws, the nation lacks proper ‘freedom’ of which Ms Nyst said has no certainties.

“Freedoms are not absolutes, they can be limited,” Ms Nyst said.

“When you talk about human rights, it’s a much more tangible thing.

“I don’t think we should be talking about freedoms at all, I think we should be talking about rights and what rights we enjoy in Australia and what rights we enforce in Australia and in that respect we don’t have the right to carry guns and that’s a good thing.”

Women’s rights in Australia and across the world have been making small steps but are still largely ignored in working environments where males dominate. Ms Nyst said this should be the focus point of human rights in Australia.

“Australian women rank very high in terms of education, we [Australians] have one of the highest parity levels of parity in education between women and men but it hasn’t trickled down to women in politics or women in business in Australia, ” Ms Nyst said.

“In some cases we like to think we are doing things really well but actually, there’s a lot of Australians that are experiencing human rights violations on a daily basis.”

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