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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

ASIO Bill « Previous | |Next »
June 27, 2003

In the coming months we are going to hear lots of spin about the obstructionism of an undemocratic Senate and defences of executive dominance. It will be justified in the name of strong government that has been given a mandate from the people. You can hear the hacks waiting for the government's media releases to start rolling off the fax machines.

As the opposition to the Government's media bill indicated Howard's only effective opposition is in the Senate. As Geoff Kitney says:

"It is only the Senate that stands in the way of the translation into legislation of his [Howard's] remarkable political ascendancy."

The Senate frustrates Howard because it circumscribes executive dominance.

Is circumsribes obstructionism? No. Consider the ASIO bill. Personally I thought this bill was way over the top in curtailing the civil liberties of Australian citizens to protect their freedom. It is the Australian example of what The Vancouver Scrum (June 25, scroll down) say is:

"...the excesses of anti-terror laws enacted in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 -- a time when too many people were willing to cede the State powers of search and surveillance that would ordinarily be considered unacceptable."

The ALP has slipped further in my estimation. But that is by and by since that is not the point of this post.

The point is take a look at what the Senate did in the light of the claim of Senate obstructionism.

Here is George Williams. He says that:

"... in its final form, the bill reflects the bipartisan recommendations of two key parliamentary inquiries. It also contains numerous amendments from the 15 months of debate in what has been one of the most intensive exercises of parliamentary scrutiny seen in Australia."

Williams goes on to say that:

"The original bill was one of the worst introduced into the federal parliament. The amendments made by all parties have made a significant a product of parliamentary compromise, it is a remarkable achievement. It is also a powerful example of the need to retain the Senate as an effective house of review."

Rightly said.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:48 AM | | Comments (0)