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Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no increased terror alert?

G'day. The PM and Mr Ruddock have just told reporters that a little bit of the terror laws package will be rushed through the House of Reps after question time, then through the Senate tomorrow arvo. It will, Howard said, alter current law referring to 'the' terrorist act to 'a' terrorist act. He wouldn't say why this particular change was urgent, and ensured there were no informed questions asked on behalf of Australians by insisting that he'd give reporters a statement on the detail AFTER he'd said his bit and gone to lunch.

He said the indefinite article amendment was needed because of "specific intelligence and police information this week which gives cause for serious concern about a potential terrorist threat". He wouldn't say what or where, but did say  he'd briefed Beazley last night and this morning and got the agreement of the Premiers last night.

The government was satisfied that the new law would strengthen the capacity of law enforcement agencies to respond to this threat, he said.

Howard wouldn't say whether the threat was within Australia, or overseas, or whether the intelligence was Australian or foreign. Two important questions were asked, the answers to which were confusing, to say the least:

1. Had the terror alert level in Australia been raised? No.

John Howard: "If we received advice to that effect, which we have not received, we would respond appropriately to that advice."

2. Peter Hartcher: "Mr Howard, the fact that you’re only seeking the urgent passage of this one particular amendment to strength operational capability implies that the rest of the bill is not required and will not have the effect of strengthening operational capability. Is that correct?"

John Howard: Well I don’t care to comment on that.  That’s, you can make whatever judgement you like.

Mr Howard and Mr Ruddock 2 Nov 2005


Today the Government will introduce into the House of Representatives an urgent amendment to Australia’s counter-terrorism legislation and seek the passage of the amendment through all stages tonight. The President of the Senate will recall the Senate for 2pm tomorrow. It is the Government’s wish that the amendment be law as soon as possible.

The Government has received specific intelligence and police information this week which gives cause for serious concern about a potential terrorist threat. The detail of this intelligence has been provided to the Leader of the Opposition and the Shadow Minister for Homeland Security.

The Government is satisfied on the advice provided to it that the immediate passage of this bill would strengthen the capacity of law enforcement agencies to effectively respond to this threat.

The Government is acting against the background of the assessment of intelligence agencies that a terrorist attack in Australia is feasible and could well occur.  In ASIO’s recently released annual report a warning is contained that specifically cites the threat of home-grown terrorism. ASIO also warned that attacks without warning are feasible.

I raised this matter in some detail with all of the State Premiers late yesterday and have received their unanimous agreement to the immediate introduction and passage of this amendment if the Government judged, on continuing advice, that it was necessary.

The substance of these amendments is currently part of the draft Anti-Terrorism Bill which has been circulated to the States and is being presented as a stand-alone bill. The effect of the amendment is to give relevant agencies a greater capacity to respond promptly whenever threats arise.

The Government would like all elements of the Anti-Terrorism Bill, when introduced, to become law before Christmas. However, for the reasons I have outlined, these specific elements have taken on a greater degree of urgency and on that basis the Government intends to secure their passage immediately.

Details of the provisions are attached.

2 November 2005

Details of amendments

Schedule 1 of the Anti-Terrorism Bill amends the terrorism offences in Divisions 101 and 102 of the Criminal Code, and adds a further ground for listing terrorist organisations in regulations.

Items 2 to 5 clarify that, in a prosecution for a terrorism offence, it is not necessary to identify a particular terrorist act. The existing offences contain a subsection that provides that a person commits the offence even if ‘the’ terrorist act does not occur. When the offences were originally drafted, it was not the intention that the prosecution would be required to identify a ‘particular’ terrorist act.

The amendments will clarify that it is not necessary for the prosecution to identify a specific terrorist act. It will be sufficient for the prosecution to prove that the particular conduct was related to ‘a’ terrorist act.

Similarly, item 10 clarifies that, when determining whether an organisation satisfies the definition of a terrorist organisation, it is not necessary to prove the organisation is preparing, planning, assisting in or fostering ‘the’ particular terrorist act. It will be sufficient if the prosecution can show the organisation is preparing, planning, assisting in or fostering ‘a’ terrorist act.

Other amendments in Schedule 1 are consequential on these more substantial amendments.

Independent MP Peter Andren challenges reasons for ‘emergency’ terror law

Independent Member for Calare Peter Andren today challenged the reasons for the government rushing through a section of its controversial anti-terror laws with three hours notice, and calling back the Senate tomorrow to help pass it. “The amendments were introduced mid-afternoon and passed within 45 minutes before going to the Senate,” Mr Andren, one of only five speakers, said.

"The Prime Minister said earlier today Australian intelligence authorities have received specific information about a potential terrorist threat. However the changes introduced to Parliament simply change the wording of the Criminal Code Act to refer to ‘a’ terrorist act instead of ‘the’ terrorist act.

"The Attorney General said it was important to make these changes to absolutely ensure there was no ambiguity in existing law. I have been advised by several legal experts that the changes are unnecessary, and it is ‘extraordinary’ to recall the Senate to make the changes. Apparently the government has been concerned about a threat for several days. It begs the question, why would ASIO, the Federal Police or State Police wait for the changing of ‘the’ to ‘a’ in legislation before acting on any threat?

“My legal advice today said there is no difference of legality between the two terms. “There has been no raising of the terrorism alert from ‘medium’ and the government has waited until after the Melbourne Cup, after the Industrial relations bills were introduced, after a debate on a supposed Matter of Public Importance before introducing these amendments this afternoon. How immediate is the threat?

“I told parliament I am deeply sceptical about the government’s motives in introducing these amendments today. It seems to be more about political opportunism than policing,” Mr Andren said.


Peter Andren's speech to Parliament this afternoon

Mr ANDREN (Calare) (4.34 pm)
We have these emergency provisions in the Anti-Terrorism Bill 2005 apparently to meet a specific terrorist threat. It is a specific threat that has been known about for some time, I understand—even before yesterday’s Melbourne Cup, even before today’s introduction of the IR bills, even before question time today and even before today’s matter of public importance. The Prime Minister’s statement suggests that the ASIO report on the potential of home-grown terrorism has much to do with these rushed provisions before us today. Surely that intelligence has been around for many months.

The amendments in themselves essentially change ‘the’ to ‘a’ terrorist act and, according to my legal advice, they should cause no great alarm. But that same advice says that it is absolutely extraordinary to recall the Senate to pass them. Does the Attorney-General really expect ASIO, the Federal Police and the state police to wait for the Senate vote before acting on any pending terrorism threat? These amendments are extraordinary because there are already laws of conspiracy and ASIO provisions that cover the crime of planning a terrorist act. These rushed amendments are extraordinary only because I firmly believe that they have the effect, if not the intent, of ramping up community concern, of locking in the doubters and further wedging non-government representatives who have received scores of sound and reliable advice from law practitioners all over this country—led by the likes of Ian Barker QC and John Dowd, a former Liberal Attorney ­ General in New South Wales: "The draft antiterror laws that we have seen so far are indeed extreme in some measures and erode the freedoms that our soldiers fought for."

Barker QC says that the proposed laws—no doubt the first draft that he saw, courtesy of Jon Stanhope’s courageous move of putting them on the web—will give the government the ability to control, monitor and jail people who have not committed a crime. He said that these people will not be charged with a crime. He went on to say:

Today we are on the edge of a slide into our own 21st century form of fascism: secret arrests, secret detention, secret interrogation by secret people. This will be the product of the anti terrorism bill - at least in the version that he had seen to that point -itself kept secret until the last minute to avoid scrutiny by those it will put at risk—the Australian public.

The Australian public was denied any access to the bill until Mr Stanhope chose—I repeat: with great courage—to put it on the internet for Australians and legal practitioners to have a decent look at. Here last-minute legislation is being introduced into the House, with talk of impending acts, still with 24 hours before the Senate deliberates on the matter.

My Victorian independent colleague Craig Ingram commented today that such laws may well have the effect of turning young men into potential terrorists, so alienated may they feel if and when they are wrongly taken into custody and interrogated on suspicion that proves groundless. Why has the terrorism alert not been raised if there is an urgent need for these measures? It still stands a medium. Where is the briefing offered to all members? ‘Trust us’ is not good enough.

A few minutes ago I received advice that sections 101 and 102 of the Criminal Code relate to ‘a’ terrorist act. I am advised there is no difference of legality between the terms ‘the’ and ‘a’, notwithstanding the views of the member for Wentworth. The advice is that there is no necessity for these amendments, so I have a serious suspicion that they are far more about politics than policing. I will not oppose the bill, but I am deeply sceptical of the motives of the government. The newspaper headlines tomorrow will not be ‘Industrial relations’ but ‘Terror scare’. Is that truly the reality?

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re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

A non-legal reading of all of that suggests that it will be even easier to shut down any form of dissent if this all goes through into law.

Be very very careful.

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

"Reds under the beds" is alive and well today. Indeed, why no change in threat level? Timing timing timing = children overboard. Truth overboard. Trust overboard.

This gets more bizarre by the minute.

Margo, can you ask Malcolm to comment on these developments and the legal implications? Also on the failure of the states to take up the referral of powers issue?

Today is a very dark day in Australia's history.

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

Yeah right - and in five year's time, after this news item and Howard's statement has been and gone through the Senate and questioned and taken apart as empty rhetoric, Howard will state, "Well I did not lie, I told Australians what I knew at the time, based on the facts as they appeared at the time..."

PM warns of 'specific' terror threat

Wednesday, November 2, 2005. 12:24pm (AEDT)

Prime Minister John Howard says the Federal Government has received specific intelligence about a potential terrorist threat in Australia.

At a press conference, Mr Howard would not give further details, citing operational security reasons.

"The Government has received specific intelligence from police information this week, which gives cause for serious concern about a potential terrorist threat," Mr Howard told reporters.

"I do not intend, and can not, go into any of the operational details. We have seen material, it is a cause for concern."

Mr Howard says the Senate will be recalled tomorrow to pass an amendment relating to the description of a terrorist act.

He says the amendment to existing counter-terrorism laws would allow authorities to deal with the threat.

He says the amendment will be introduced to the House of Representatives this afternoon after Question Time.

The amendment is separate from the Government's proposed counter-terrorism legislation that Mr Howard says will be introduced to the Parliament soon.

Mr Howard says the specific terrorist threat became known recently but he has refused to detail the information.

"All the detail of this information has been provided by me and the Attorney-General, to the Leader of the Opposition, and to the shadow minister for homeland security," he said.

The announcement from Mr Howard came as ASIO in its annual report publicly outlined the threats to Australia.

ASIO says that some of the extremists it has been investigating were born in Australia.

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

"On March 23rd, elected officials were due to meet to discuss and vote on Hitler's Enabling Law.

As politicians neared the building, they found it surrounded by SS and SA thugs who tried to ensure that only Nazi or Nationalist politicians got into the building. The vote for this law was crucial as it gave Hitler a vast amount of power. The law basically stated that any bill only needed Hitler's signature and within 24 hours that bill would become law in Germany. With only Nazis and other right wing politicians inside the Kroll Opera House, the bill was quickly passed into law. The act gave Hitler what he wanted - dictatorial power. What he wanted would become law in Germany within 24 hours of his signature being put on paper."

Source here.

The parallels get worse by the day. Read the full story of how it all happened and ask yourself how many similarities we are seeing now.

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

Margo, as if grammatical changes make a difference in the scheme of this undemocratic obscenity of an excuse for law and order. The whole thing should be struck down!

What a complete shambles the Government’s new anti terrorist legislation has become. No one at this time has made a substantial case for the changes and the government is acting like it has something to hide. When Howard has come under pressure he has attempted to appear reasonable while he withdraws, disavowing himself of previous “core” conviction views just as quickly as a change of clothes.

The State Premiers met with the PM and appeared to get a briefing which scared the socks off them and had them arm in arm, as they waved goodbye to more of our civil liberties, without seeing the draft legislation. Not a good start, but that’s hardly the Government’s fault if they were silly enough to work that way. This would all be a touch more palatable, if it were not for the fact that the Government has a miserable record when it comes to the truth in public affairs or ministerial accountability. Add to that the recent compensation payment matter concerning a family that was apparently raided in error (do they all look alike?) by ASIO, but the circumstances of which cannot be spoken – by anyone. And this before the new laws are up and running. A taste of things to come!

When the Government finally distributed a draft of the new legislation the natives got restless, but only one, the ACT Chief Minister, had sufficient concern for the public interest to publish the truth. It was not the best solution, but in the circumstances, the only action thus far that appears to recognise the seriousness of the situation for both citizens and democracy. And still we, the public, have not been made privy to all the details. Why?
The Government has made no secret that it would rush the legislation through the Senate, making obscure references to the “war against terrorism” and intending to use its majority to effectively eliminate informed debate. This is not a good example of good government and shows no care or regard for our democracy. Nevertheless, Melbourne Cup day was intended to be the perfect diversion and since the government has not been punished by the electorate for its careless disregard for the truth in so many other matters, it was full steam ahead!

Suddenly the Premiers came out of their collective trance, or found their intestinal fortitude and asking the questions they should have answers to before agreeing to anything. They needed as a matter of urgency to create time and space around these issues for informed public debate and scrutiny.

In response, the Government got nasty, then plain disingenuous, insisting their had been time to consider these important matters because the ACT Chief Minister had thoughtfully published them on the internet, then finally agreeing to delay. I still can’t believe Ruddock said that! When this looked like it wasn’t working the PM appeared conciliatory – again – and some of the Premiers have come around, on the basis that they reckon they have negotiated sufficient “safeguards”. So what’s the rush team? Why get yourself into so many compromises that you are compromised? Howard continues to set the pace by other means – very clever and very dangerous.

Everything about these new terrorist laws goes against the grain. It does not build democracy or respect for ethnic or religious diversity. Instead it divides and marginalises our citizens. Just as has happened in other jurisdictions, these new laws will be used, abused and as we have seen elsewhere, exploited by the PM and his black knights, and in fairness by others that follow them.

But if this weren’t enough, we have to endure the clumsy, stupid utterance of the Leader of the Opposition, who in one action, better than any poll, demonstrated that he has no idea what his colleagues are thinking, much less those might have otherwise been among his constituency on this issue. A tactical midget, advise by gooseberries. A pox on all of them. All piss and wind!

Everything about this legislation is a dangerous farce! In these circumstances, nothing should be agreed. Nothing!

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

Jack, It won't take five years; will happen within the month!

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

Our intelligence services are capable of producing our very own Reichstag.

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

Gee, how unexpected. I wonder if those terrorists have any WMDs.

The future will follow this path:

Labor MPs will be systematically smeared and investigated under the new laws using highly suspect, but un-challengeable intelligence. (As will those Liberal pollies who challenge the leader). The dirt will stick and the media will turn on the ALP. The party will be discredited and linked in the public mind to terrorism and thus outlawed. The transition to a one-party state will then be complete.

The end-game has begun.

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

They sure were born in Australia Jack. Their names are Howard and Ruddock, Downer and the rest of the spineless dimwits.

Why don't they hang out the shingle, put an X marks the spot and say "come and bomb us so we can be proved right"?

Scott Parkin was a risk. Bakhtiyari family were Pakistanis.

Kids were thrown overboard. Saddam had massive amounts of WMD - except now it looks like any weapons they did have were bought and paid for by the stupid Australian government through the Wheat Board.

That would be hysterically funny if it wasn't so tragic.

I wonder how many kids starved to death while Downer and co signed off on these wheat contracts and hauling contracts that made Saddam fat.

I wonder if the cash built any of the palaces the Australian troops ending up living in.

Henny, Penny, the sky is falling. Ho hum.

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

The change from "a" to "the" makes no sense whatsoever, as it would only serve to make the legislation more specific, rather than general.

The only thing I can think is that the government wants to achieve some retrospective application to the package they already have. Something might not be covered by the regime in place and they need to tinker with the laws.

To discover the details of why and wherefore, is going to require some vigilant checking of the BillsNet so we can see the substance of the change sought by the Government when the papers are released. Until then I'd suggest any comment is speculative and theoretical at best.

Margo: Hi Andrew. I made a mistake in my piece - its 'the' to 'a' - fixed quick, though. My apologies - I wrote the thing very quickly so I could get to Q Time..

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

I think the whole nation - especially the machinations of government - needs a long, long holiday from itself. This whole she-bang is becoming darkly comical with mutual hysteria swelling up on both sides of the fence. When I try and divine the outcome of all this hysteria, by delving in to our Jungian underbelly, what I'm sensing is that the only thing that will act as circuit-breaker here is a human death. Seems to me we're leading towards a blood sacrifice, to release the dam of tension that has built up in us all since 9/11.

I don't plan on being that death and I think it would be prudent now for all dissenters to look sharp and avoid confrontation. Whatever you do, don't resist arrest. Being detained for questioning, however unfairly, is a better road to walk down than running away, which, in the present climate, could be a road that leads to nowhere.

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

Unspecified specific threats eh, today of all days. How fortuitous. I feel decidedly ill.

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

Marilyn, how many Coalition members, past or present, have direct or indirect links, financial or otherwise, to and/or interests in the AWB?

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

And here I thought we were seeing the death of our democracy by a thousand cuts and instead they have brought out a chainsaw.

Has anyone some good links as to what happened in Spain and Italy in the lead up to becoming fascist states?

Or what property is going for in New Zealand at the moment? ;)

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

Aesop: The Boy and the Wolf.

"Nobody believes a liar...even when he is telling the truth!"

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

I find it very sad that my first considered response to this is to assume Howard (or perhaps the person who gave him the assessment) is lying.

What happens if this or another threat is real and we don't believe him because he has cried 'wolf' too many times? People could die needlessly because this government is not trusted by a lot of people on matters of life and death.

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

I feel sick. The day democracy died.

How convenient! Howard says there is a significant threat on the day he rushes through his bill. And gutless Beazley just nods and agrees.

And where is our media? Still going on about a horse race. Shows just where our priorties lie in Australia 2005.

I wonder how one migrates to New Zealand?

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

Wendy, we've got to stay and fight! But just in case... here.

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

Simon, see this link to see how Germany slid into a dictatorship.

For Italy see here.

For Spain see here as one version. Also here.

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

Justin, we have to trust that the various police forces, ASIO, JIO, DIO, AFP, etc can do a better job than Howard and Ruddock and maybe even ONA of separating fact from fiction. ... hmm, tricky.

PS. I actually do have somewhat more faith in some of the serving officers than in the pollies of Howard's ilk but they are all subject political pressures, witness the AFP and the Bali 9.

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

"And you are an alarmist. You are saying that this must lead to this, and you can't prove it. These are the beginnings, yes; but how do you know for sure when you don't know the end, and how do you know, or even surmise, the end? On the one hand, your enemies, the law, the regime, the Party, intimidate you. On the other, your colleagues pooh-pooh you as pessimistic or even neurotic. You are left with your close friends, who are, naturally, people who have always thought as you have."

"What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if he people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security."

These two pieces above come from this link.

You bastards you complete bastards - I curse you.

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

This is a long shot but perhaps the rushed change is maybe to get ready for the release of David Hicks. With the ability to declare him a terrorist even if he didn't perform any terrorist act or plan for a specific act or given the fact that his actions predated the law it would then allow them to charge him in Australia.

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

I have considered that as well. The lack of credible opposition has almost made us a virtual One-Party State anyway. Maybe they will merge eventually, during or after some "crisis". I suspect they will still go after Bob Brown and other minor parties though. It wouldn't be hard to turn your average mind-numbed punter against him.

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

"Prime Minister John Howard says the Federal Government has received specific intelligence about a potential terrorist threat in Australia."

The wee shite has probably been given advanced notice of the latest poll data on his IR 'reform' legislation and cacked his pants.

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

Steve, I seriously doubt anyone would be dumb enough to go after the ALP. That would make it too obvious, even the Australian people would see through it. Besides, why go after the ALP? What threat to Howard's power does it represent?

21st century fascism is or will be more subtle than its 20th century counterpart. Legitimacy remains the foundation of all political power, and as the people slowly learn the lessons of the past, governments and corporations must become more sophisticated in order to convince them it is operating in their interests.

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

Politicians in the UK are now debating extending detention without trial from 14 days to 90 days. See here.

This has echoes of the apartheid regime's 90 Day Detention Act.

I wonder how long it will be before Labor is asked to let even more draconian laws go through.

And how many Labor MPs are really prepared to take responsibility as elected representatives to deal comprehensively with the real challenges that terrorism poses for Australians:

There can be no pride for Labor in dancing to John Howard's tune – and the Howard agenda is so at odds with what is really needed.

ed Kerri: Hi Don, welcome to Webdiary. We prefer if posters use both a firstname and a surname. See our discussion guidelines for more info. Thanks.

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

Surely if there is a 'credible terrorist threat' as claimed, we should all be told where, when and how? Or will we be treated to a series of these threats, told that they have been nipped in the bud once the new laws have been placed and the media told they cannot report any facts. This must be a big worry for the Murdoch empire. There are only so many fashion reports from the Melbourne Cup they can entertain their readers with.

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

Jack, there is a terrorist threat and John Howard and this government are the terrorists. They are at war with their people.

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

I don't understand how there can be a "specific terrorist threat" that "gives cause for specific concern" with information that is "highly specific and detailed", enough so they recall the Senate and look to push this legislation through in the blink of an eye, but according to the national security website, "the level of national counter-terrorism alert remains at medium under our four-level alert system"... That doesn't make much sense, not that anything coming out of this Government does. At least it doesn't make sense if you try to believe that the Government is acting in our best interests, which I stopped believing long ago.

I was going to take a quote on the threat level remaining the same from smh.com.au but that little factoid - which was present in the earlier versions of the story that appeared at midday - has, as of the 4.48pm update, disappeared and there is no longer any mention of this apparent contradiction. (You can still find one story that mentions it if you search smh.com.au for 'terrorist threat level' and go to the story. The links at the top of the story say it was under 'Breaking News'...but of course that page is no longer linked to from the 'Breaking News' page...) Yeah, I know. I shouldn't be surprised. But I am very, very afraid. And not of any 'terrorist'.

"The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure." - Thomas Jefferson to Lafayette, 1823

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

Anyone remember the 1985 film 'Brazil', by Terry Gilliam?

Do you think that the government is winning the battle against terrorists?

Oh yes. Our morale is much higher than theirs, we're fielding all their strokes, running a lot of them out, and pretty consistently knocking them for six. I'd say they're nearly out of the game.

But the bombing campaign is now in its thirteenth year ...

Beginner's luck!

How useful - a war that really can be made to go on forever... doesn't that ring another bell... maybe '1984'?

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

Hi Graham, I see you too saw 4 Corners Monday night. I agree with you, the urgency may well be to cover the Federal Government's shame at allowing Hicks to be "detained" as he has without conviction. As Mr Clowner said, "What abuse? Where? When? I wasn't told."

Of disinterest to all I just had a look at Ninemsn for their usual poll which asks if we feel safer with the new legislation. Current voting is 8175 Yes and 19360 No. I felt sure it would be the reverse but perhaps there is hope for Australian's.

I could suggest that we would feel safer if we each had a copy of the IR changes, we could hide behind the paper mountain, but that would be silly.

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

I am pleased to see I am not the only one who cannot believe the gall of this man. Our PM together with Ruddock know no bounds in their use of fear as a mechanism to beat the country’s citizens into submission.

The timing of this announcement is so convenient for the government as to make it barely believable and that is before you even consider Howard’s superior record of being dubious with the truth.

I would implore fellow Australian’s to stop letting this government use them as puppets that can be scared and prodded whenever it is politically convenient or simply whenever the mood takes.

Further, how does it compromise the operational integrity of an ongoing investigation to devolve a little more detail than what the PM has today offered (ie. what city is supposably being targeted)? Unless of course the government expects us to now believe that there is not just one, but numerous (unconnected) potential terrorist attacks that are so well advanced in their preparation and considered imminent, that this near immediate change in legislation is warranted.

Surely by announcing their knowledge of ‘a’ imminent terrorist threat, the government is already alerting those planning any such incident that the authorities are aware of their intentions. Apprising the public of a terrorist threat that is apparently so well advanced or such “cause for concern”, but then asserting that any further details would compromise the operational integrity of an investigation is just nonsensical.

Who is prepared to make a wager that within a couple of years this announcement will be exposed as a scenario similar to those – I don’t want people like that in this country - “children overboard”?

Finally, I am intrigued by the deafening silence from the one-eyed-Howard supports, Jay White et al on this matter. Don't tell me they are already hiding under the bed covers because "honest John" thinks we are about to be attacked by terrorists? Don't you get it yet Jay, the man is a habitual liar!

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

Adam Boyd, I can't speak for all the Howard supporters who once read Webdiary, but for my own part, the reason for my "deafening silence" is quite simple.

The constant carping about the death of democracy, dictatorships, facism etc. is just plain boring.

It was kind of funny at first, but now it's just pathetic. That's why I haven't been around much lately.

I do occasionally check back to see if Marilyn Shepherd has said anything outrageous enough to lure me back to regular readership, but thus far I've been disappointed.

I don't mean to be rude or put anyone down, but if you want constructive debate (or even just some right-wingers hanging round with whom you can argue) you might want to try something other than the left's typical grab bag of anti-Howard clichés.

Margo: Welcome back Aaron!

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

There has to be a way to stop this nightmare that we are in. We have no effective opposition, a government who finds nothing too offensive to stoop to, and a complete disregard for the Australian people.

We have them pushing through IR legislation which will make serfs of ordinary working people and colluding with one of the most corrupt United State Governments that we have ever seen to the point of allowing them to torture one of our citizens without raising even a whimper;

And then to add to the contempt they have for us all they try to foist this little gem on us. Like others have said, will this be seen as the Australian Reichstag fire?

How do we pull this corrupt and despicable government down?

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

Another ruse by Howard to get his way on legislation. If such a threat exists, why not tell the public, we don't need to know who is threatening, or how they found out, just the bare facts of where and when.

After all, does not the safety of Australians mean anything at all?

Margo: I watched the House of Reps this arvo, and Malcolm Turnbull said the technical amendment was probably not necessary and due to 'abundant caution'. Peter Andren went further, saying his legal advice twas that the amendment was completely unnecessary. Ruddock complained thast the law enforcement agencies were completely independent of the Government. Oh yeah, so how come Keelty was ordered to change his mind about our invasion of Iraq increasing the risk of a terrorist attack on Australians? And how come the AFP jumps to attention when Howard wants a leak investigated and sits on its hands when it doesn't.

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

If a person may be prosecuted for a terrorist attack, even if it doesn't occur, this is tantamount to being pre-emptively prosecuted for murder, even if the murder never occurs...does anyone else feel there are some 'Minority Report' parallels here?

This is absurd. As Australians, we could be prosecuted as a terrorist for not committing a terrorist act. Fantastic. "Damned if you do, damned if you don't" he says. How eloquently put. John is a man of his word afterall. He must have had a good laugh with his spin doctors when he came up with that little sound grab.

Andrew Bailey, the change in wording - whilst being a more general reference - gives a lot more leeway for individuals to be charged and organisations to be banned. In effect, 'the' refers to a specific terrorist act whereas 'a' could refer to any terrorist act. Using this broader terminology, it would be possible to criminalise an individual or organisation that, for eg, tried to give rational explanation to the acts of Palestinian suicide bombers (whilst at the same time seeming to excuse or condone such behaviour in any way), even if the individual or organisation played no part in 'the' terrorist act.

'Fostering' a terrorist act is a very broad term - it could refer to financing it, verbal encouragement or ideological concurrence, or giving any kind of material support to potential perpetrators, intentional or not. As such, I don't think Graham Finn's suggestion regarding David Hicks is such a long shot at all, but I don't think Hicks would be the only intended victim of the re-wording.

More broadly, it will do a lot more again to stifle debate about the agenda of terrorists and what they perceive to be their social & political justifications. Frightening from a Prime Minister who stated (of anti-war protesters) that "I do know ... that demonstrations do give comfort to the Iraqi leadership...we are all accountable for the actions we take."

Meanwhile, some interesting reading on an intelligence agency with arbitrary powers, the likes of which should care us at least as much as terrorism.

It's time we woke up and realised Australia is not miraculously impervious to authoritarianism - our complacency will be our democratic demise if we don't get smarter soon.

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

Question to those who have faith in the "professionals" within ASIO, DIO, AFP etc...

You are assuming that being professional is mutually exclusive to being a team player. If these people are so serious and objective, why didn't they speak up about the prime miniature's WMD/Iraq/Osama bullshit? Why aren't they speaking out TODAY?

If the public servants haven't taken a stand in the present environment, what's the chance of the doing anything after the laws are passed?

Oftentimes, we are not aware of the ultimate consequences of remaining silent about what we see or hear. In the moment, we may make a choice--based on self-interest or fear or apathy--that violates our basic values or our own sense of justice. Later on, as history unfolds, we realize the importance of that choice and are called upon to reckon with its consequences. "Do You Take the Oath?" is an essay about this dilemma.

These is nothing unique about Australia or it's people that will prevent us going down the dark path walked by others. I beg you to read this.

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

Is it too late to man the barricades or do we just stock up on vaseline?

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc


it is comforting to know that a serious and present threat of terrorism has been identified sufficient to satisfy both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. No doubt, now identified, it can be countered and prevented.

What a relief it is to know that our security is so well looked after that this threat was identified without the necessity of any further amendments to our security legislation. It will come as a further relief to everyone that it is no longer necessary to present the Anti-Terrorism Bill to either House or to trouble the Premiers to refer their powers under the Constitution because we are clearly already in safe hands.

Yours etc,

Malcolm B. Duncan
Potts Point

Cc Ed The Australian
Ed Terror

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

I should answer Russell even though he asked a question to an answer I never put.

The AWB is independent of the government now but it would seem that Mark Vaile knew about Alia and said and did nothing.

Now all of those contracts under the food for oil program had to be signed off by the government so who signed off in us paying transporters with no trucks in Iraq who used Iraqi government letterheads?

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

Limited scrutiny of laws on the way in, and
limited scrutiny of the workings of government

"Mr Costello also used his speech to raise concerns about the extensive use of Freedom of Information (FOI) laws by the media to see the inner workings of the government. He said FOI laws were originally developed so that members of the public could correct information held by government agencies. But it appeared they were now being used by the media to trace government policy decisions. He said this could ultimately scare public servants out of making frank and fearless advice known to their ministers. "I would not want to see practices growing up over those laws which would inhibit policy making or would lead to a disinclination in relation to working documents and policy development, to document in writing the pros and cons of particular proposals," he said. "This will become an obstacle to giving candid and fearless advice."

He claims that exposure will make public servants less likely to be frank. Personally, when I give frank advice I prefer to have it recorded so that my position is clear for posterity. The people Mr Costello refers to don't sound like good servants of the public.

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

How sad that, because of his past record, we cannot trust that the Prime Minister of Australia is telling the truth on such an important matter.

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

Sadly, our country has the government of its choice. Sadly, our country has a compliant, poll-driven "opposition" with not a shred of moral backbone or leadership. Sadly, too many Australians have been suckered into thinking that this particular style of anti-terrorist legislation will help keep them safe.
Sadly, my country is now a fascist state. The man is evil.

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

When I saw the news report, I immediately thought of the ASIO-orchestrated Hilton bombing. I won't be surprised if they orchestrate something in the next few days to back up their claims. It certainly wouldn't be a historical precedent - think Reichstag fire/enabling act. It was Hitler who said in Mein Kampf, "By means of shrewd lies, unremittingly repeated, it is possible to make people believe that heaven is hell - and hell heaven. The greater the lie, the more readily it will be believed."

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

What an insult to every Australian’s intelligence to pull this crap out the bag. What an amazing coincidence an imminent terror threat, on the day the terror laws are trying to be rushed through Parliament. So far the media coverage is appalling - “of course it must be happening”; his Lordship said so. Just every now and then a touch of impartiality would be nice and questions posed to these ridiculous statements he continues to make.

Honestly Mr Howard you’re a bloody embarrassment.

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

Jenyn Tetlow is correct to question Peter Costello's claim that the media's use of FOI laws will prevent public servants giving frank and fearless advice. The opposite should be true - the fact that their advice is open to scrutiny should mean they will tell the truth to ministers so it's on the record rather than as the Howard government appears to prefer - what they think their political master's want to hear and will fit the the government's political ideology.

I hope Howard's source for this latest dog-whistle scare is better than the source he used to compile his written report delivered to the voters of Bennelong just before the Iraq invasion. Stating that this was the only reason he was participating in this invasion, it detailed down to the last ounce the vast store of WMD that could be found in Iraq, none of which has ever been located. Carrying John Howard's signature, it also claimed he would never participate if the reason was for 'regime change'.

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

Justin Whelan, what do you think the fundamental changes to Australian IR laws are, if not (among other things) "going after the ALP" - by way of emasculating a key proportion of their base? Apologies if the Rev. Martin Niemöller (January 14, 1892 - March 6, 1984, a German Lutheran pastor who was an opponent of Adolf Hitler) has been quoted before on this or another thread, but:

First they came for the communists,

I did not speak out

because I was not a communist.

When they came for the social democrats,
I did not speak out
because I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists
I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews
I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew;

And when they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

Given the transgressions of the Australian electorate over the last nine years, I don't think anything is "too obvious". To borrow a chess maxim, it appears than Howard agrees that "attack is the best form of defence".

Tom Bolton, see Lewis Lapham's discussion of "a perpetual war for perpetual peace" in his book Gag Rule.

Russell Daroch, thank you for your links on Germany, Italy and Spain. Do you know any good analyses of South American dictatorships? I think there may be some strong parallels with the initial legal framework for "disappearances".

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

I don't know if Howard-huggers like Aaron Kennedy should be considered smug and arrogant or simply misinformed and naive.

Whatever the case, it's clear that Aaron can't conceive that other people might be expressing legitimate concerns.

Here's the take from the other side of the aisle, Aaron. I don't expect you to change your stance, I'm just clearing things up so we can remove the "misinformed and naive" question from my assessment.

In Australia today, we have a government and beaureacracy which:

* Dumped a sick Australian resident overseas and left them there even when the "mistake" was discovered.
* Placed a mentally ill Australian citizen in a refugee gulag without diagnosing her disorder. When she was finally released the dept responsible tried to blame the victim.
* Took the nation into an unprovoked, illegal war based on spin and lies.
* Deported a peaceful American anti-war activiist because... well... because they could.
* Obsessively covers up beaureacratic bungling and corruption.
* Has already secured unprecedented powers or the intel services and AFP.
* Takes asylum seeker who have committed no crime and puts them behind bars indefinitely.
* Ignores the vast majority of the electorate if it conflicts with the govt's agenda.
* Implicitly encourages xenophobia by its actions and policies.
* Knowingly tells lies about helpless boat-people in order to gain political mileage
* Has politicised the public service to the point that it is a branch of the executive.
* Resorts to excessive secrecy to avoid scrutiny and accountability.
* Abandoned an Australian citizen in a foreign gaol without due process even after every other Western nation had demanded their citizens be repatriated.
* Routinely destroys whistle-blowers who expose the govt's failings.
* Ignores the advice of public servants who do not stick to the approved script.
* Employ devious and mean-spirited tactics in the senate to stifle debate.
* Will not allow a reasonable time to discuss important legislation.
* Forms a "human shield" between an elected member of the Australian parliament and a foreign head in order to prevent an exchange of views.
* Regularly uses wedge politics, dividing Australian against Australian, instead of leading rational debate.
* Spends tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on propaganda to sell the voters something they don't want or need.

There it is. Reasons why so many people take the "boring" view that Australia is not a functioning democracy. Naturally these same reasons should go a long way to explain why we don't believe the Prime Miniature, govt and public service should have more unchecked power.

You're probably right, Aaron, democracy in this country is not yet dead. I trust you're putting the well-being of your fellow citizens before any blind support for a political party. If so, I hope you'll be kind enough to let the rest of us know when it's acceptable to be alarmed.

"A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves." ~ Bertrand de Jouvenel

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

Mr Howard's claim about Australia being riddled with terrorists reminds me of the boy who called "wolf". From the man who took us to war because of WMD etc, the bullshit has been thick in the past, so now we are only going to get truth. Bollocks!!

re: Serious new terrorist threat to Oz, says JWH, so why no inc

Claudia, not off hand; will see what I can find.

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