I have in the past been proud to be an Australian. When I met yanks and Brits overseas I felt at least equal to them (perhaps more than equal) but now Australians stand less tall in the world.The US Military Commission’s laws for Gatanomo Bay detainees don’t apply to Americans or Englishmen because they don’t guarantee them the civil rights to which they are entitled but they are judged good enough for Australians and other non US citizens. The Howard Government has accepted that Australian’s are ranked second to American’s and lowered standards of justice are appropriate.
Australia used to have a reputation as standing for justice, freedom of speech, and for its centuries old system of English justice that guaranteed people were regarded as innocent until proven guilty by a fair trial. We also had a reputation for holding human life sacrosanct.
Now along with the Americans we condone what the rest of the world regards as torture and have thrown away basic elements of our justice system and protective laws in apparent fear of terrorism. We have become more like the terrorists that we claim to oppose. We now tacitly support the use of weapons of mass destruction against civilian populations, support the arbitrary arrest, torture, and indefinite imprisonment of people opposing our will, bully other Sovereign States whose policies offend us, and seek to thwart the judgement of world opinion and distort its values to suit or ends.
My pride in being an Australian is overshadowed with the shame at my country’s actions.
Perhaps the future for Australia may yet see Australia regain its independent national identity and regain the principles of justice that so many Australians have fought and died to uphold – I am certainly hoping so.