Increasingly, Australia’s Parliament House looks like a fortress or maximum security jail. Bollards and fences are obvious, as are some of the heavily-armed guards. But is the level and type of protection sensible, or dangerous overkill, asks security expert Dr Tony Murney?
Camouflage green fences exude precisely the wrong symbolism for a parliament building purpose-designed to be an accessible People’s House. From one angle, the most prestigious building in the National Capital looks like a jail, with slum attached. Are we keeping the prime inmates protected, or locked away behind our own ‘Berlin Wall’? Gates and upward-rising bollards – which have hoisted Commonwealth cars skywards – are further barriers to openness, security expert Dr Tony Murney says.
Assault-style weapons proliferate throughout the external parliamentary precinct: armed guards patrol the ricochet-rich foyer. Into this potential bullet-riddled firezone Australia’s politicians invite subsidised schoolchildren in their hundreds every day the Parliament sits. With schools and embassies (including that of China) in nearby over-shoot range, even an accidental discharge could create personal tragedy or international incident.
Privacy probably means something entirely different to you than it does to the Australian government, its police and security services. That’s why close examination of the upcoming legislation around the Covid-19 tracing app is so vital. Kelsie Nabben and Chris Berg comment.
So, people are sick, and dying. But what is the hard comparative data? Why are our governments not sharing with us the figuring that lies behind their thinking. Here metrologist (measurement guru) and risk expert John W. Clark puts the comparative statistics under the microscope. You be the judge of whether our governments should be revealing more facts, and consulting with us much more about life-and-death decisions for people, economies and nations.
As Iran releases 100,000 prisoners, Australian jails are still packed with the potential for major COVID-19 spread into the community, Paul Gregoire writes for Sydney Criminal Lawyers. And, as usual, Indigenous prisoners are relatively most at risk because of their large numbers and poor health. The WHO and UN have warned Australia about the potential for jails to spread the pandemic. ‘Prison health is a matter of public health’.
Difficult questions are starting to arise around the human rights implications of the Covid-19 pandemic in Australia. The delicate balancing act between minimising harm and infringing on liberties is occurring in a way many of us have not experienced before, legal bioethicist Caitlin Davis says as she explores the issues.
A new book revealing the doings inside a now-closed ‘mental asylum’ is an important contribution to civil liberties and human rights. It is a timely reminded – as a health panic starts to threaten more government abuse – that it is vital to keep shining torches into those places that authorities would prefer are forgotten. Review by Reg. Murray.