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APEC protests: LibLab presents our very own police state
The APEC thuggery results from a Labor and Liberal conspiracy to destroy our civil liberties and give police untrammelled power to serve political ends. I've been warning of this on Webdiary for many years. We saw with Haneef that now, police and/or government lawyers are prepared to lie under oath to the Courts to get their way. And the NSW Labor Government's disgrace started long before Iemma.
When I attended a Carr press conference to question him about effectively abolishing the right to march a la Sir Joh
Bjelke-Petersen, he said he would answer my questions because I blamed
the Bali bombing victims for their own deaths. A lie, of course, but
the tactic of an unethical, whatever it takes politician.Webdiary's 2002 archive is here. Back then, the forces for liberty still had a bit of clout. It's been downhill since then. Below is some stuff I wrote back then.
As for Miranda Devine's conversion, she's a classic case of not giving a damn about the rights and liberties of fellow citizens because she's confident she and her friends won't have to worry. Miranda backed Carr's government all the way when he started NSW down this track in 2002, and the Liberal Opposition said yes please, but make it tougher! But everyone's in the same boat in the end - think Rau, Alvarez - if we let governments get all the power. Except the really big people, of course. And that's, yep, fascism.
We've gotta rein these bastards in, give the Courts back the power to scrutinise state actions, and somehow get a bill of rights. Think about this before you vote. Please. Just ask John Howard. He said in 1998: '"The law is a valuable bulwark against tyranny and a slide into authoritarianism. As we have seen only too sadly in one or two places recently, the first sign of a drift to authoritarianism is an apparent encroachment by the executive upon the absolute independence and the absolute integrity of the courts of a nation."
2002 - THE ROT SETS IN
NSW - CARR
Sniffing terrorism (May 9) - 'Now NSW Labor's latest outrage, putting sniffer dogs on public transport. A pattern is emerging across the mainstream parties - ever increasing surveillance and control over our personal lives and beliefs, coupled with the dumping of rights and freedoms we had taken for granted. No free market on this circuit, folks.'
Labor's new crime: Civil disobedience (Nov 1): "Attention left wing voters: Labor disowns civil disobedience and demands you defect to the Greens!
Protesting GATTS, if you're game (Nov 10): "My only personal experience of civil disobedience was in the late 1970s, when Sir Joh banned the right to march by telling police to refuse to issue any march permits. In response, I joined hundreds of others in King George Square outside City hall in the middle of Brisbane. We faced an ampitheatre - the street was surrounded by onlookers, and more than 700 police stood ready to defend the patch of street in front of the square. When we walked onto the street we were arrested and put in jail until someone - in my case my mother - arrived to bail us out. I was chucked into a tiny cell with about 20 others, where I worked out pretty quickly that this was not my scene. I also worked out that I had nothing but respect and admiration for people who could take all this to confront the system with its own injustice. Several ALP members who went on to become State government ministers were arrested in the right to march protests. To see the NSW police minister playing Costa's game fills me with dread and foreboding. I don't know what Costa is up to, apart from creating hysteria, but I don't like it."
Hey Joh: Costa's the new demon along the watchtower (November 14): "For a week now I've been tracking the progress of the story that's resulted in injuries to a journalist on Sydney streets today, but the inevitability of the denouement makes makes me feel no less sick at the behaviour of NSW police minister Michael Costa.Images of the worst of times in Queensland under Sir Joh keep flashing through my mind. A police officer caught on video repeatedly bashing a protester walking, just walking, in the front line of a march. Sir Joh said onya. Division on the street - regular people with a cause pitted against hundreds of police with batons. No respite, no reason. I fled ultra-conservative Queensland for a place where people's democratic rights were respected. Now history repeats itself in Labor-run NSW via a police minister who used to head the State's union movement and now apes a Queensland Premier hated by unionists. Many unionists are protesting today against the WTO meeting. Costa puts hundreds of police on the street to face them, after frothing at the mouth for days on how evil they all are, creating a hyped media event from nothing. It can't be... It is."
Costa: police watchdog (Nov 19): "It's now clear that the people of NSW live in a dual reality. I saw most of the TV news programs on the night of last week's march through the city, and saw no violence from protesters. I did see a mounted police officer charge into a reporter.The next day The Daily Telegraph splashed with "WHAT A BLOODY DISGRACE" and a picture of a small man held by three large police being led towards the camera. The lead paragraph, by reporters Ben English and Rachel Morris, read: 'Violent street demonstrations over the World Trade Organisation's meeting in Sydney by a coalition of professional protesters have cost taxpayers more than $5 million to police.'The Tele published no pictures of protester violence."
Protecting our safety AND our liberty (Nov 22): "My suggestion is this. Oversight of the new police powers should be
vested in an experienced, independent person who the people of NSW
trust. If our core protections against the abuse of government and
police power must be suspended - which they must - then the people must
feel supremely confident that their interests are being fully protected."
Democracy's watchdogs blind to the danger (Dec 2): "Once again, our media has failed us when it comes to protecting our civil rights. Everyone talks about rights and responsibilities these days, but the media has vacated the field on insisting that governments be responsible for the protection of our liberties, rather than take advantage of fear to trample them under cover of the war on terrorism."
What about a bill of rights? (December 4): ". The deed is nearly done. By tonight, the NSW parliament will have passed new laws which allow police, on the say so of the police minister, to break-in to your house and search it, to strip search you, to search your vehicle, and to insist that you answer questions. The police minister is immune from scrutiny for whatever he authorises and there's no public disclosure of what is done under the new powers.'
FEDERAL - HOWARD BEGINS HIS ASSAULT ON OUR LIBERTIES - TERROR ARCHIVE 2002
Come in, Big Brother (May 1):
Pick the difference between the following criminal acts.
(1) Martin Bryant massacres 35 people at Port Arthur. A bloke discovers his girlfriend has slept with a mate and torches his car. Football friends bash supporters of the rival team. Drunken mates end the night throwing rocks at shop windows.
(2) A woman kills her newborn child because "God told me I'd given birth to the devil". A man thinks all Arabs are terrorists, and kills his neighbour "as my bit to save civilisation". Aboriginal youths vandalise the new Reconciliation Walk in Canberra because "it's a symbol of our oppression". Protesters at the Woomera detention centre pull down a fence to get closer to asylum seekers.
In (1), each offender gets the full protection of the criminal law and maximum penalties vary according to the nature of the crime. In (2), each has committed "a terrorist act" and can be detained incommunicado for up to six days by ASIO before arrest and people who ASIO believes can help them in their inquiries get the same treatment. All offenders face life in jail. If any belong to an organisation, the government can, in many cases, ban it even before a charge is laid or proved.
The extremity of the difference is courtesy of the Security Legislation Amendment (Terrorism) bill to be considered by Parliament soon. For the first time, the "motive" for the crime, rather than the offender's action, is crucial. If someone causes serious harm to a person or serious damage to property to advance "a political, religious or ideological cause" he is guilty of a "terrorist act", and the rulebook goes out the window.
Why has terrorism been so broadly defined? In a statement on December 18, Attorney-General Daryl Williams said "a terrorist act" would be "an offence under the UN and other international counter-terrorism instruments, or an act committed for a political, religious or ideological purpose designed to intimidate the public with regard to its security and intended to cause serious damage to persons, property or infrastructure". In other words, what most of us would agree is terrorism.
But the qualifier has gone. Try as it might, the Senate committee examining the bill cannot get the government to say why, although it admits that many protests, including picketing, are now drawn into the terrorism net. Its response: people should trust the police not to prosecute and the government to be circumspect. Yet the Attorney-General's department said that, in practise, the police would likely charge an alleged offender as a terrorist or a mere criminal depending on which charge would be easier to prove.
The result is sinister laws giving this and future governments carte blanche to persecute individuals and organisation opposing its political interests. The Attorney-General can ban an organisation if he believes it "has endangered or is likely to endanger the security or integrity" of Australia "or another country". That means he can ban free Tibet movements (endangering China), free West Papua movements (endangering Indonesia), and could have banned free East Timor groups and the ANC. Anyone who remains a member of or donates to or "assists" a banned organisation is guilty of a crime, penalty 25 years jail.
The potential of all this is summed up by Melbourne QC Julian Burnside, a member of Liberty Victoria. Agreeing with evidence from the Law Council that the assault on Parliament House by renegade protesters during a peaceful demonstration several years ago would now be "a terrorist act", he said:
"Imagine that same episode at Parliament House: lots of damage and so on. Then imagine that in one scenario all of the people participating are dressed in balaclavas and have CFMEU logos front and back. Next imagine that they are all Aborigines. Next imagine that they are all distinctly Middle Eastern in appearance. Next imagine that they are all calling out in a broad Irish brogue. Add the stereotypes as you like. At that point, ask: will they be treated in any different way? Will people understand this legislation any differently, according to the identity of the people involved?
"I suspect that the honest answer is that, yes, they will. If it were a bunch of middle-aged housewives who had just got a bit carried away after bingo, I think that people would react rather differently.
"Then add to that this question: what is the political complexion of the government of the day? Does that make any difference to your confidence that there will or will not be a prosecution?"...