Modia Minotaur

Trawling the airwaves to spare you the agony!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Legislation That Stops A Nation

I've been meaning to blog my thoughts on the latest developments in the introduction anti-terrorism legislation, but it's hard to know exactly where to start. So many things to say, so many thoughts ...

The matter is not helped by the mixed messages the Opposition is giving on the laws. It's hard to know whether Kim Beazley is actually trying to appear harder on terror than John Howard (I tend to disagree with analyses such as Steven Lewis' that he is attempting to head off `another Tampa' - and if he is, what did he get criticised for doing last time round? Curling up into a little ball and saying `Oh all right, us too then'). It seems to me that Beazley is attempting to unsuccessfully win back space on the agenda by proposing amendments to the legislation, in much the same way that Mark Latham did by proposing amendments to the US Free Trade Agreement. If this is the case, it's just not working. In an argument so contentious and vexed, I can only agree with the assessment, reported by The Australian's Samantha Maiden, that this instead constitutes a `mangling of the message'. This view was expressed at a weekend meeting of the National Left at which a motion on the anti-terrorism laws was passed (the full text of the motion can be read on

And if I'm so confused by all of this, just think of any given Opposition Frontbencher, who at one point was going to be voting on the legislation around now but who has still not been shown the bill. The situation is just as bad for state and territory MPs, who, in at least one state that I know of, only received a briefing on the COAG meeting at which the initial deal was agreed upon after much lobbying - and even then received nothing more than a member of the public would have.

As the Federal Member for Sydney, Tanya Plibersek, pointed out in her interview with Virginia Trioli on ABC 702 this morning, MPs are elected to make decisions on behalf of their 85,000-odd constituents. They cannot be expected to make informed decisions under the conditions the government is offering. This is not democracy - and frankly, it's pretty alarming.

Most of the comments I would want to make on this issue have been made already (see for example Daryl Melham's recent opinion piece from the Sydney Morning Herald, reproduced at OnlineOpinion), but for anyone who doubts the danger of laws which allow law enforcement to occur outside judicial scrutiny; for people to be `disappeared' without being allowed to tell even their closest family members where they have been, I invite you to learn about Argentina's Madres de Plaza de Mayo and remind everyone, before they dismiss Argentina as some South American backwater, that its natural resources once made it one of the most prosperous countries in the world. Yes, it can happen anywhere, so long as your back is turned for long enough.


At 1:20 pm, Anonymous Kate said...

Good post. After watching the Four Corners story on David Hicks, and considering what happened to Scoot Parkin, I'm feeling pretty dark about government. Even darker than usual.

Also, this is a great blog. Keep up the good stuff.

At 7:07 pm, Blogger Minotaur said...

Much thanks ... the occasional compliment makes it all worthwhile :)

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