By Paul Gregoire* The Morrison Coalition government unleashed a swag of draconian laws in the final parliamentary sitting weeks of this year. The Defence Amendment (Call Out of the Australian Defence Force) Bill 2018 was passed on 27 November. This legislation lowered the threshold of when the government can send in
Beware! You may have to change your natural behaviour at airports – don’t muck around, don’t joke, don’t skylark with friends…or the lurking police officer might decide to demand your ID, search you and your e-devices, make you miss your flight and take you away for questioning. The enhanced new search powers are so broad that AFP officers could apply them in just about any situation, certainly not just when mass panic is being provoked or someone is unfurling a provocative flag. Paul Gregoire reports
Forget the fireworks inside Parliament House! Loud bangs are likely to be heard all over Canberra soon…but no-one’s saying where or when. The Australian Defence Force plans to carry out counter-terrorism training in late August. Or, it could be, training for when the federal government calls out the troops: see CLA’s submission to the current Defence Call Out Bill, a particularly power-seizing piece of legislation that flies in the face of one clause in the Australian Constitution.
The federal government is hell bent on boosting its powers to call out the troops at a moment’s notice anywhere in Australia, and even in anticipation of a problem occurring. The new law, now being considered by a parliamentary committee, would be perfect for using the Army, Navy and Air Force to protect President Trump when he visits, or to stop protestors at Adani mine or port sites, where fracking is about to get under way or any environmental protest is likely. The power to call out the troops should be very tightly constrained, which is the opposite of how this draft bill is written, says CLA CEO Bill Rowlings.
Rob Wesley-Smith (RWS) knows the Timor Leste (East Timor) government as well as any Australian. He is personal friends with current and former Presidents and Prime Ministers of that country. He was recently awarded that nation’s highest honour, the Order of Timor Leste. He says the Australian government’s spying behaviour was unconscionable, and the current charges against lawyer Bernard Collaery and Witness K are appalling.
Australians with consciences who care about our democracy are beginning to speak out against this travesty of justice. “The Wilkie statement is now two days old: not a word from the government, the ALP, the ABC, today’s Fin Review. Is everybody running scared?” asks a former Labor MP. A major protest is being planned for the first mention of the charges in the ACT Magistrates Court on 25 July 2018. If you care about the rule of law in Australia, and stopping the process under way of Australia becoming a police state, please follow this story, and take action.
Fury was the initial response on social media among Defence personnel to allegations against special forces soldiers. But as new details emerge almost daily, there’s recognition that leaders at many levels within the Australian Defence Force may have as many questions to answer as the troops. If accountability failures extend throughout the organisation, Army wife Kay Danes writes, an open and transparent Senate inquiry would be the least mechanism needed to get to the bottom of the allegedly widespread management problems in the ADF.
The instant response to a terrorist incident is to ‘declare war on terrorists’, but the chance of dying in a terrorist attack is still very small, says Prof Chris Michaelsen. 22 July 2016
Why does a first-rate – in terms of bounty and beauty – nation like Australia have second-class liberties when it comes to police, privacy and the personal values we should cherish? 24 Feb 2016
Is there an inherent danger in the government exaggerating fear, and creating more and more terror laws? Here’s a 100-year comparison of comments that provides a useful historical insight. 15 June 2015
As the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security prepares to step down from her “independent” role, it’s a pity the Attorney-General forced her into silence at Estimates hearings. 29 May 2015