On Australia Day, when we proudly sing, "Australians all, let us rejoice, for we are young and free", we should also remember the Anti-terrorism (No2) Bill which was rushed through Federal Parliament on December 6.
Along with many other Australians, we in Civil Liberties Australia endorse the warning of the Law Council of Australia that "these new laws put our most basic civil liberties under threat".
Detaining people without charge, issuing control orders over suspects (not convictees), deporting people on secret ASIO assessment and gagging media reporting of violations of human rights – these are grave overreactions to a politician-heightened threat.
Former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, former High Court judges Sir Anthony Mason and Sir Gerard Brennan, current ACT Chief Justice Terence Higgins and former Chief Justice of the Family Court Alastair Nicholson have all strongly criticised the laws.
Newspaper editorials have clearly stated the valid objection to "the sedition provisions in the legislation which cast too wide a net and could conceivably be used to inhibit the normal discussion and analysis of political affairs".
Totalitarian societies lock up people for things they say and may do in future, rather than what they actually do.
That has not been the traditional Australian way. But it will remain the legislated Australian way unless we citizens refuse to be cowed by politicians/terrorists who have their own reasons for promoting fear in our community.
Dr Kristine Klugman, OAM, President, Civil Liberties Australia (ACT) (Canberra Times Letter)