ACT News


Bugging appeal denied

A woman who claimed she was bugged by intelligence agents has been denied the right to take her legal fight against a tertiary institution to the ACT Supreme Court.

Ban Shammas tried to take her case of discrimination against the Canberra Institute of Technology to the court after exhausting other legal avenues, with complaints to the Human Rights Commission and ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal already dismissed.

Justice Hilary Penfold refused the latest application last month, saying Ms Shammas, an Iraqi refugee, was seeking a forum to make allegations against ASIO. Justice Penfold said the appellant provided the court with no reason to allow the appeal at the hearing.

The case stemmed from Ms Shammas' complaints about the behaviour of other students at CIT when she was studying business administration in 2010.

Ms Shammas said some of the students' conversations with her, including some about Middle Eastern issues then being canvassed in the media, raised issues similar to those she had discussed with her husband at home.

She suspected that ASIO had bugged her home and passed details of conversations with her husband to her fellow students.

Ms Shammas was not satisfied with CIT's response and made three complaints to the Human Rights Commission alleging discrimination. The Human Rights Commission referred each complaint to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

The case was heard in February last year, with three of the appellant's fellow students giving evidence. The applications were dismissed a month later, finding there had been no unfavourable treatment in the CIT response to the complaints and no victimisation. Ms Shammas appealed the decision and it was dismissed. Her application to the ACT Supreme Court to appeal the ruling was refused after the hearing in December.

In an ex tempore judgment, published on Thursday, Justice Penfold wrote that Ms Shammas appeared intent on using court time to make claims that she was under surveillance by ASIO. ''I have formed the impression that, however sincerely held were Ms Shammas' initial concerns about the treatment she felt she was receiving in her CIT classes, her current aim is to air her allegations about ASIO as often as possible in whatever forums might be available.''