Attack on liberties

It is encouraging to see a bipartisan report from the Federal Parliament’s Intelligence Committee recommends a wide-ranging review of current federal anti-terrorism laws.

The atrocities of 9/11, Bali and London understandably inspired fear in the minds of many Australians, and the desire to escape from an atmosphere of fear to one of security is a natural reaction.

As terrorism often violates the most basic of human rights the right to life there is undoubtedly a duty for the state to respond.

There does, however, remain great dangers if we pursue the unattainable; absolute security. We should be aware terrorists will never defeat a strong and stable democracy.

What we must be careful of is the dangers of an ill-conceived and fear-driven response.

Terrorism is a real threat, but we should not trade away our liberties in the name of defending them. If we do, we will be left with nothing to defend. The Howard Government has passed 31 (and counting) different pieces of such legislation since March 2001 in its continued hijacking of the debate by its politics of fear.

The anti-terrorism legislation represents an unprecedented attack on our civil liberties on several fronts.

For example, freedom of speech is attacked by the sedition provisions; freedom of movement, religion and association are attacked by control orders; and freedom from arbitrary detention is attacked by preventative detention orders.

A review is most welcome.

Vic Adams, Reid (Canberra Times letter)

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