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

twists and turns « Previous | |Next »
November 2, 2005

I caught question time in the House of Representatives today. It was in an uproar for an hour or so on the floor because of the Government's contempt for the House rules that require MPs each to get a copy of a proposed law before the debate starts. None of the 600 pages or so of the IR legislation (plus 500 pages of explanatory notes) was given out before the debate started. This is clear contempt of Parliament, is it not? It is an abuse of power and public faith in democratic process for sure.

Then I saw an inscrutable Philip Ruddock, the Attorney General, introduce some hasty legislation into Parliament this afternoon. He said that the government was acting in response to the assessment that a terrorist attack in Australia is feasible and could well occur.

No details were given--that is now par for the course in the discourse around the politics of fear. But you couldn't miss the import: the existence of an imminent home-grown terror threat from Australian-born Islamic extremists. The evidence? Nothing. Nevertheless the Senate will be recalled to debate the bill tomorrow.

No questions were asked for by the ALP Shadow Ministry Arch Bevis and Nicola Roxon as they agreed to alter the current law referring to 'the' terrorist act to 'a' terrorist act. Nothing was said about the threat of terrorism in Australia having something to do with the Iraq war. Haven't we have sent our own troops into the Iraqi's country?

And Kim Beazley. Why, I'm reading that he put a soft motion to caucus, which backed "tough national security laws with strong safeguards for individual liberties in the national interest". It's the right note, but it means zilch right.? Since when has Beazely been interested in strong safeguards for civil liberties when it comes to national security? He's even more gung ho and hairy chested on national security than the state ALP premiers--he is willing to endorse Howard's anti-terrorism legislation unseen! So is the ALP front bench.

Bill Leak

Oh I know Beazley is in a difficult political position. Granted. But he can still actually back "tough national security laws with strong safeguards for individual liberties in the national interest"?

Oh I know, that's a bit of sho sho to appease, or buy off, the dissidents in caucus willing to defend the rule of law.

How about this for clear thinking strategy then. Beazley says that he will help push Howard's anti -terrorism legislation through, and then go to the next election (in two years' time) with a clear alternative for the electorate. Huh? Is this what they call rat cunning in the ALP? Strikes me that their judgement is impaired. What's their alternative? It seems I've missed that bit.

What about defending the rule of law guys and girls?

Did not the draft of the Anti-Terrorism Bill 2005 abolish the most fundamental right held by citizens of this country - the right to personal liberty in peacetime, which currently exists for all of us, except for persons charged with criminal offences or for persons suffering from serious mental or infectious illness?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:28 PM | | Comments (0)