Special Issue Newsletter
The Anti-Terrorism Bill 2005

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Vol 2 number 1
November 2005

Quick Links
• Readings: Democracy and Peace
• Will you Cross the Floor, Senator?
• Australian Terrorlaws hub page
• Take Action on the Terrorlaws
• Mark Cox, Terrifying Democracy
• Terror Australis
• Decent Liberals and their terror fears
• Risking a Totalitarian State
• Of Treason and Sedition
• Australian Law Council analysis
• Petro Georgiou's Terror speech
• George Williams on Human Rights
• Does Australia need a Bill of Rights?
• Australian Backbenchers Revolt
• The Man who Stopped the Boats
• Daily Newsletter archives
Fear and Public Policy
Dr Carmen Lawrence's 2005 Freilich Foundation lectures

Former WA Premier, past President for the ALP and the Federal member for Fremantle Dr Carmen Lawrence was the Fourth Freilich Foundation Eminent Lecturer in 2005 at The Herbert and Valmae Freilich Foundation.

Dr Lawrence delivers no-nonsense observations about Australian politics and Australian attitudes and highlights our Fear of the Other, our Fear of Crime, our Fear of Annihilation and the Australian couch attitude in Relaxed and Comfortable?
• Fear of the Other
• Fear of Crime
• Fear of Annihilation
• Relaxed and Comfortable?

Online resources of repute and acclaim

This Newsletter's recommended Sites around Australia: independent news and opinion websites we credit and recommend, as well as background information website resources on the Terror Laws

• New Matilda Online magazine
• Online Opinion
• Wayne Sanderson's Daily Briefing
• Margo Kingston's Webdiary
• Democratic Audit of Australia
• Civil Rights Network
• Gilbert + Tobin Terrorism Archive
• Perth & WA Terrorlaws Campaign
• Activists Rights Legal Resources
• NSW Council for Civil Liberties
• Adelaide Independent Weekly
Iraq and the terror laws

It is important to keep everything in perspective, and many people have reiterated that the "war on terror" is closely connected to the neo-conservative policies of the Bush regime in the USA.

This page on our website summarizes where we stand at Project SafeCom in relation to the invasion of Iraq by Australia, the USA and the UK - it outlines some aspects of the American policies planned, orchestrated and implemented by the groups intimately linked to the Bush Administration.

click here to access this page.
ASIO raids Iranian families

Govt silent on Iranian raids
Using ASIO powers reserved for "terrorists" to target other groups in Australian society, is not new, and the raids in June 2003 exposed what's already happening under Howard in our country. The arrest warrants, written out by ASIO and Australian Federal Police, outlined "suspected membership" not only of "proscribed terrorist groups and organisations", but also 'suspected membership of Refugee Action Collective'....

From the ABC Lateline transcript:

"The Federal Government has remained silent about a series of raids on the homes of 29 Iranian Australians. Refugee groups and the Greens claim the crackdown has not been motivated by concerns about terrorism, but by Australia's trade relationship with Iran."

Link to Lateline transcript

The Law Council of Australia

"The Law Council of Australia urges the government to abandon proposals to introduce preventative detention orders and control orders. Persons not charged with or found guilty of a criminal offence should not be subjected by the State to imprisonment without trial or to restrictions on their liberty that impair their fundamental freedoms and human rights."

While the Law Council opposes measures that are central to the Bill, if those measures find favour with the Parliament, the Law Council strongly urges Parliament to ensure that they are accompanied by proper legal safeguards as follows.
Link to this page here

Our News and Updates

We also issue more regular free news updates, keeping our supporters on the pulse about human rights issues. These newsletters are text-only (no HTML, no attachments) and are normally sent for free a few times a week.

To subscribe to our news updates, click here (an click on the button "Join this list" on the page you arrive at). Your email will receive a reply from topica.com, the people who manage our email list. You need to click on the link in that email to confirm your subscription: this is called a "double opt-in" - a security design to prevent anyone from being added to a list without their consent. Read the archives here.

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An unexpected window of opportunity 

An urgent special Newsletter

The Anti-terrorism Bill 2005 should be of extreme concern to all Australians. Its extremist powers are being pushed and peddled by the Howard administration, but as is becoming abundantly clear, the laws are not needed, they do not safeguard anyone in Australia who may practice fierce dissent with the policies of the Howard government, and they do not safeguard those who criticise the Howard government, even if this is in writing or in the Performing or visual Arts. The fact that already an artist was requested to be prosecuted for treason against the State (follow the link for details) shows the level of concern we all should have with these laws.

An eery déja-vue - Four years ago many Australians experienced a spine-chilling experience whenever they turned on the television. The then Immigration Minister Phillip Ruddock, who now invariably gets drawn by cartoonists with a cold-blue facial skin tone, took every opportunity he could to embark on an agressive media-campaign, defending the indefensible in relation to "unannounced" asylum seekers arriving on our shores seeking asylum. Ruddock was Howard's chief defender of, if need be, a lifelong jailing of innocent men, women and children, who came to Australia unannounced by boat, just like tens of thousands of people have done for centuries, and they used their International right under the UN Refugee Convention and the International Declaration of Human Rights to do so.

Now once again, this time as the Attorney-General, Ruddock is defending the indefensible of the Anti-Terrorism Bill 2005, of its secrecy provisions - where even parents of those who are "snapped up" by ASIO on "suspicion only" can be jailed up to five years for telling their spouses or family members of this "ASIO disappearance" of their son or daughter; Ruddock does the media work also for the medieval "Sedition Laws" included in the legislation.

The window of opportunity

Surprisingly, an unexpected window of opportunity has appeared - small, but significant. While on Thursday November 10 Parliament was planning to rush these laws through, delays caused by the (equally draconian) Industrial Regulations Bills postposed the debate and the voting for the Terrorlaws in the lower house.

Included in this page on our website is a list of about a dozen Liberal and National MP's and Senators who have since the 2001 TAMPA legislation shown increasing concerns for how asylum policies have created disastrous policies and a deleterious effect on the "recipients" of these policies - and several of them have expressed serious concerns with the proposed anti-terrorism legislation, and its undermining of internationally agreed conventions - including the "sedition laws" which in principle enable a complete shut-down of dissenting voices expressing criticism with the Howard government.

The only choice for us left is to urge these MPs and Senators to cross the floor of Parliament and with this act of dissent vote down the legislation.

We have just a little more than one working week to contact these MPs and Senators, asking them to oppose the passing of this legislation that has no place in a democracy. Before 28 November we'll need to write or fax them and follow this up with a phone call. The phone call needs to include a check where you can urgently reach this MP right now: at their electorate office or in their Parliament House office.

You can use the sample letter (see below) as a guide for your action or draft your own letter. This sample letter needs to be sent to your local MP and State Senator, especially if this MP is a Coalition MP or Senator.

Sincerely,
Jack H. Smit
Coordinator, Project SafeCom Inc.
Write to your local Coalition MPs and Senators 

In this section, a sample letter as a guide for your action or draft your own letter to be sent to your local MP and State Senator, especially if this MP is a Coalition MP or Senator.

Condemn Terror Not our Human Rights

Sample letter to Members of Parliament or Senators

Dear (Name of MP or Senator),

I wish to lodge my opposition and concerns over the counter-terrorism laws currently being considered by both federal and state Governments. These laws remove important democratic rights and, in my view, constitute a surrender in the "war on terrorism". I condemn terror, but I also condemn these laws that compromise our basic human rights and our democracy.

I am opposed to these Terror Laws because:

  1. Terrorism should be addressed using existing criminal law. Terrorism and the perpetration of violence is already a criminal offense. These new laws are unnecessary and dangerous.
  2. The proposed laws are unconstitutional and bypass our existing judiciary system. The Prime Minister required State Premiers to agree to pass and enforce the laws at a state level in order to avoid a constitutional challenge in the High Court.
  3. These draconian laws will provide unreasonably harsh powers to state police enabling them to secretly detain people without charge, covertly search private property without warrants, and shoot and kill suspects who have not been charged with a crime.
  4. Secret detention without charge and house arrest violate basic international human rights and are untenable in a fair democracy. These are features of dictatorial power and fascism, and are easily abused by governments and secret police agencies.
  5. The expanded definition of sedition will make dissent, or even humanitarian protest, a criminal offense. The difficulties in terms of defining terrorism (as seen in the 2002 legislation) make these powers easy to abuse. The subjective judgment of federal and state police will inevitably lead to racial profiling of the Muslim community.
  6. Shoot to kill powers are unacceptable and may result in the killing of innocent civilians. The execution-style killing of an innocent Brazilian in London after the bombings was a tragedy that should have alerted the Australian Government to the extremism of this power.

As a loyal Australian citizen, I cannot support these laws. These laws compromise our rights to protest, to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, and to be charged in a court of law. I request you as my representative in the Government to represent my opposition to the Anti-Terrorism Bill 2005.

Yours sincerely,
Name and Address or Electorate

A Terror Alert from Allan Nield

We have the benefit of hindsight. Let's use it.

TO: Followers of John Howard
COPY: Others who have seen the light
BLIND COPY: To those who can see clearly

"THOSE WHO WILL NOT LEARN FROM HISTORY ARE DOOMED TO REPEAT IT"

We already know what happened in South Africa where in response to "terrorism" the then democratic Government introduced anti-terrorism laws similar to those being put now in Australia and undoubtedly using the "exceptional circumstances" argument.* We have the benefit of hindsight - it started with good intent and got worse and worse!

We already know what happened in democratic Germany when emergency powers were given by parliament to Adolf Hitler to solve a crisis and the normal rule of law was suspended, udoubtedly based on the argument of "exceptional circumstances".* We have the benefit of hindsight - it started with good intent and got worse and worse! (Neville Chamberlain thought Hitler was a charming man. Germans greeted him as their saviour. He was a persuasive speaker. Intellectuals and the influential hung on his words and assurances of a stronger Germany).

And now (even though you have already supported the abuse of innocent children, women and men in detention suicide camps and are content to let me and thousands of others consume our lives to try to repair some of the human misery you have caused) you ask us to believe that you and "the system" will not abuse the human rights of the innocent family, friends and acquaintances of Muslims who will inevitably get caught up in your draconian laws.

Peter Costello has not spoken against the abuse of children and young men in prolonged detention yet stands in the Hillsong Church for a photo opportunity. Does the pastor tell him that politicians are exempt from Jesus' plea to "let the children come to me?" Tony Abbot has not spoken against the abuse of children and families in detention and yet champions the lives of the unborn. Has the Pope given him dispensation that Christ did not mean Tony Abbot about those who offend the least of the children deserving a swim with a millstone hung round their neck?

Even now while legislation is being put forward which removes accountability for police and government, the abused victims of your government are in Glenside psychiatric hospital or still rotting in Baxter suicide factory where the only control they have of their lives is to harm themselves or damage property! You the government are still spending millions of dollars abusing innocent young men and Chinese and Afghanian refugee families out of public sight and you have the indecency to ask us to trust our children and grand children with you when you arrest them on suspicion and put them beyond reach and accountability.

We will be no safer from terrorism with your laws, probably less safe given the resentment they will cause when innocents are abused.

The only possible advantage for you is that your meal ticket, John Howard, may be elected again. A question to ask yourself : "Why should I do this to my children and grandchildren, just so that John Howard can win the next election?"

Anyone who argues that innocent people will not be abused under the draconian laws has not read history or is incapable of learning from it.

The only changes we need are STRONGER HUMAN RIGHTS enshrined in our constitution.

JOHN HOWARD, NO LESS THAN OTHER DICTATORS BEFORE HIM, IS TRYING TO BURN THE BOOKS OF HISTORY AND REPLACE THEM WITH HIS OWN WARPED IDEOLOGIES.

* For further reading see "Emergency powers created South Africa - and Hitler", page 9 'The Independent Weekly' November 6-12 2005.

[....]

Note that John Howard still sees a "White" Australia, as did Pauline Hanson, illustrated by:

i. He was the only one in Malcolm Fraser's government who opposed settlement of Vietnam Refugees in Australia.

ii. His racist outburst during the last election about middle eastern refugees "we do not want these sort of people in our country" and now his hypocritical effort to convince Muslims that Australia does not discriminate against them (while he does);

iii. His sadistic treatment of innocent traumatised asylum seekers by imprisoning them in suicide factories for 5 YEARS and more just as an example, and his recent boast of the "outstanding success" of that treatment.

Project SafeCom: how you can support us 
A mean and lean budget
a PDF documentWe have worked, full-time, to critique mandatory detention policies since September 2001. Check out our events page to see something of what we've been up to since that time, or click on the PDF file image in the margin to download our 2005 Annual Report. Below are several ways in which you can help us with our work. Please read on....
1.Membership Application Form: click to download the Word-97 Document You can become a member of Project SafeCom for a minimum membership payment of $20.00 per year. It is one of the easiest ways of supporting us. Our members live in all States and territories around Australia. To download the membership form, click on the Word Document image. Click here to visit the membership application page.
2. To make a donation to our project by direct transfer, send your funds to our account at Bendigo Community Bank Kulin, BSB Number 633-000. Account name: Project SafeCom Inc., account 115643900. Upon your request, your donation can also be an annual Project SafeCom membership.
3. You can donate to us by sending your cheque to Project SafeCom Inc., P.O. Box 364, Narrogin Western Australia 6312. Upon request, your cheque donation can also be an annual Project SafeCom membership.
4. You can make a start with being more involved with our work by subscribing to our free daily News and Refugee updates. See above, or click here to visit the summary page and click the button "Join this List" to subscribe.