When the Terrorist Strikes...
resources for dissent with Australia's new terror legislation
Image: Robert Bosler's painting of John Howard - click on the image for more...
The new federal anti-terrorism Bill is upon us, and right around Australia groups of people gather to dissent. In Western Australia, a Forum attracts ALP Dr Carmen Lawrence and Greens Senator Rachel Siewert as a speaker.
In other States, other actions take place. This is a page for some links and relevant material.
Some Terrorlaws resources:
17 November 2005: The Law Council opposes the Terror Bill - 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...
17 November 2005: Will you Cross The Floor, Senator? - an unexpected window of opportunity has appeared, small, but significant. While Parliament was planning to rush these laws through, delays caused by the Industrial Regulations Bills postposed the debate and the voting for the Terror laws in the lower house.
12 November 2005: Of Treason and Sedition - Stop acting like an artist, and especially, stop critiquing Australian society if that includes the Howard government. You may be accused of treason or sedition. Some people already are, in underhand communication coming from the Prime Minister's office.
10 November 2005: Decent Liberals and their terror fears - two of the most interesting speeches in Parliament this week, and they're both from the government bench -from two Liberal party members, Petro Georgiou MP, and Steven Ciobo MP.
9 November 2005: The terror laws: What you can do - This page is a web-page copy of the Anti-terrorism Legislation Action Kit distributed throughout the networks shortly after the Perth Forum. The Kit is also downloadable from this page as a PDF File.
4 Nov 2005 Perth Forum: Rosemary Longhurst: Is Australia afraid? - We are concerned that this package of legislation conveys to the world that Australia is afraid - indicating to the terrorists that they are achieving their aim of generating terror and forcing governments into ever more punitive stances.
4 Nov 2005 Perth Forum: Senator Rachel Siewert: Terror Australis - within the space of a few short months we are now experiencing a fundamental erosion of our democracy and the Australian way of life. The scope of this change is so large it is almost difficult to comprehend, and it is occurring across a front so wide that effective opposition seems to be stymied.
4 Nov 2005 Perth Forum: Mark Cox LLB: Terrifying Democracy - Judges, lawyers, academics, civil and professional organisations, respected individuals, and wide sections of the Australian community, justifiably believe that the Bill and related Federal "anti-terrorist" legislation enacted since 2002 seriously undermine...
4 Nov 2005 Perth Forum: Michael Sinclair-Jones: Risking a Totalitarian State - My union believes the penalty aims to silence journalists, intimidate them into submission, and will allow miscarriages of justice to go unquestioned and - inevitably - unnoticed.
- AMCRAN Terrorism Guide: ASIO, The Police and You (2nd edition) - What do I do if ASIO or the AFP come to visit me? ... Do not make a statement or give an interview to the police unless you have talked to a lawyer first ... Produced by Australian Muslim Civil Rights Advocacy Network (AMCRAN) and UTS Community Law Centre. (PDF File 829 Kb)
- Edmund Rice Centre: Debunking Myths about Muslims in Australia - Issued as part of the series "Just Comment". "Through accepting and respecting cultural, religious and social difference, the opportunity exists for a more cohesive society." A joint publication of Edmund Rice Centre for Justice and Community Education & The School of Education, Australian Catholic University. (PDF File 128 Kb)
- Amnesty International Australia Petition: Opposition to the Anti-Terrorism Bill (No 2) 2005 - We, the undersigned, respect the role that governments must play in protecting the security of their citizens, but also believe that the rights and privileges enjoyed by Australians are not best protected in the long term by the removal of basic civil liberties and human rights. (PDF File 153 Kb)
- Gilbert + Tobin: Senate Inquiry Submission on the Anti-Terrorism Bill (No 2) 2005 - "The Bill proposes significant restrictions on the rights and freedoms of people in Australia. Laws that restrict rights should only be made after a fair opportunity for public debate and parliamentary scrutiny." From the Gilbert + Tobin Center of Public Law's Dr Andrew Lynch, Dr Ben Saul, Professor George Williams. (PDF File 252 Kb)
- Gilbert + Tobin Center of Public Law: Dr Ben Saul's Briefing On Proposed Australian Counter-terrorism Laws - It seems difficult to justify very intrusive preventative detention measures, control orders, notices to produce, extended time limits on ASIO warrants, stop, search and question powers, and higher penalties for giving false or misleading information to ASIO ... how exactly will federal terrorism offences be "clarified"? The Australian definition of terrorism is already very broad compared with the European Union definition, and attempts to broaden it further cannot be supported, particularly since it triggers exceptional powers. (PDF File 46 Kb)
- Project SafeCom Infosheet 18: Terror Laws Information Sheet - In our view the TAMPA drama, the legislation and the ensuing horrors were not really about refugees, but about Australian conservative politicians trying to establish a dictatorship by elected government through the sneaky and incremental exclusion of scrutiny and review by Australian courts and through a subtle undermining of the role and powers of the judiciary. (PDF File 25 Kb)
- The November 4 Perth Terror Laws Forum: Promotional Flyer - More and more Australians are deeply troubled about the unprecedented powers contained in the Federal Government's draft anti-terrorism legislation. Forum on Friday November 4th 2005, Social Sciences Lecture Theatre University of WA. (PDF File 175 Kb)
Western Australia's terror action:
Allied groups and organisations
When the Terrorist Strikes...
October 2005 - With the anti-terrorism legislation looming both large and dark at present, everyone who in 2001 and beyond became active on human rights and refugee issues or who in some way has regarded him/herself as part of "the refugee movement" as it has become known since TAMPA, needs to seriously review what the real issues during and since TAMPA in September 2001 were.
In our view the TAMPA drama, the legislation and the ensuing horrors were not really about refugees, but about Australian conservative politicians trying to establish a dictatorship by elected government through the sneaky and incremental exclusion of scrutiny and review by Australian courts and through a subtle undermining of the role and powers of the judiciary, and about a horrific thrashing of International Civil and Political and Human Rights Conventions in this process - not accidentally, but by design. Viewed in this context, the terrorism legislation is just "the next step" for our 'mini-dictator' John Winston Howard. And, if you're nervous and unsure about who your real enemy is, read Bruce Haigh's remarks on our website.
The list below shows page links to the Project SafeCom website as a resource of information - we have been vocal on issues of accountability, openness in government, arbitrary detention of asylum seekers since September 2001. Additionally, some links are included to the issues at stake, both directly relating to the ASIO Bill and the terrorism legislation and to the background issue of undermining or exclusion of both political openness and democratic accountability and the role of the Judiciary (and there are hundreds more pages on our website!).
The Terrorism Legislation
Under the new laws, it is possible that while we sit down to our Christmas dinners, Australian terrorism suspects will have been secretly rendered to offshore preventative detention on Christmas Island, effectively beyond reasonable defence lawyer access and the protections of Australian law. The new detention centre there is nearly ready for them now.
In a country without a Bill of Rights, the prospect of more draconian Terror Laws delivers ultimate control through fear. Australia, with its history of penal colonies, racism and detention centers, is now set to become a police state.
Petro Georgiou's reply to the terrorism Bills: "... the commitment to multiculturalism has been a demonstrably successful response to the diversity of our population. In the war against terrorism, multiculturalism is an ally and not an enemy."
The London bombings provided a convenient intersection of events with the DIMIA debacles for Australian politicians, and consequently we revived the debate around the formerly failed Australia Card - the ID Card.
Undermining of Judicial and other Review
By George Williams - "The Federal Parliament has a central role to play in the protection of the basic rights of the Australian people. To date, this role has not been fully realised."
Chief Justice David Malcolm's speech delivered in 1998. "The guidance provided by a Bill of Rights would be one way of both assisting the courts as well as re-asserting the supremacy of Parliament".
To propose further limits on legal services and judicial review after the wrongful detentions of Rau and Alvarez suggests that the Government has learned nothing from these tragic cases. These laws do nothing to confront the culture of denial and secrecy in the Immigration Department.
Deteriorating relations between Australia and the United Nations across the human rights divide - relations between the UN and Australia have faltered seriously since the Howard government took power in 1996.
Spin, Public Service and Avoidance of Accountability
Howard still tries to tell Australians that his government was "exonerated" by the Senate Inquiry, as recently as two weeks ago in a letter to Robin Rothfield of Labor for Refugees Victoria.
The story of DIMIA's cover-up of the Vivian Alvarez affair. This is a copy of a 2-part article from the Sydney Morning Herald, written by investigative reporter David Marr: "The lies that kept Vivian Alvarez hidden for years" and "The cover-up comes unstuck".
Life after Petro Georgiou seems to have changed considerably with detention centres running near-emtpy for asylum seekers. But, has it improved?
The two submissions Project SafeCom sent in for the Inquiry: Removals from Australia should be in line with Convention demands; The primary refugee determination system and also the RRT determinations have led to prolong the sheer agony of asylum seekers....
The Palmer Report, or the report of the Inquiry into the circumstances of the Immigration Detention of Cornelia Rau, is damning. And so is David Marrr's analysis from the Sydney Morning Herald.
The backbenchers' working groups are set to become the true pressure groups within Parliament, and while the PM may well claim that the coalition holds a majority in both Houses, he should be warned...
Myths are being peddled by A-G Phillip Ruddock, Hon Peter Costello, intended to influence Mr Malcolm Turnbull and others in the Liberal-National Coalition, in what we see as an attempt to discredit the Petro Georgiou Bills. Here are the facts that debunk those myths.
You may need to consider how you will have to publicly declare your hand of OVERT DISSENT, and make this dissent loudly public.
The coordinator and operator of Project SafeCom for example, cannot possibly comply with the "secrecy provisions" of the legislation: he is accountable to the Steering Committee in the first place, to the Project SafeCom Members in the second place, and to the ever-increasing number of our supporters in the third place; and because Project SafeCom has developed since TAMPA as a civil voice right around Australia with many hungry listeners and watchers, we see ourselves as obliged to let ALL the reporters and journalists know immediately and forthwith, should the event arise that ASIO becomes "interested" in what we do or what we do not know. Already we are preparing to develop mechanisms to ensure that direct lines to the Australian media, should such a case arise, are fed, directly and effectively - so it will be loudly and widely reported in the National media.
Secondly, you may need to consider whether in your life a case exists for passively, or actively and loudly, UNDERMINE these laws, should the proposals pass both Houses of Parliament.
But remember, tell a friend, tell all your friends, all your family and all reporters in the media you know.
Margo Kingston's Webdiary
Malcolm B Duncan writes on Margo Kingston's Webdiary:
- "Since Webdiarists are all potential targets under this legislation, I suggest we all contact a competent lawyer who is unlikely to be arrested and give him instructions to institute proceedings as soon as he gets a pre-arranged message that you have been arrested. I suggest you pre-prepare an SMS message and load it into your mobile so that you can push the button as they are asking you to hand the thing over. Something of the order of "I have been arrested under AT Act. Please trace phone and issue writ." Under the circumstances, it might be sufficient to serve the writ on the Attorney but you can take your own advice about that. For those of you who cannot afford a lawyer, either your local legal aid centre, your local law school (most have student assistance schemes run as legal aid centres) or your State Bar Association should be able to help. The NSW Bar Association has a Legal Assistance Scheme which provides an enormous amount of free advice and representation each year in both State and Commonwealth matters (including in the High Court)."
Communiqué: Anti Terrorism Legislation
From the Public Perth Forum "LAWS OF TERROR"
Friday 4th November 2005
This communiqué will form the basis of a media release for the organisations and individuals supporting the forum of which there were over 40 and assist in preparation of formal submissions to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Committee.
The meeting expressed serious concerns and deep reservations at two levels.
Concerns about the undemocratic nature of the process
We believe that the government is using the community's fear of the "threat of terrorism" to implement its new laws on terrorism
With respect to the processes surrounding the legislation, we express deep concern about the following:
- The lack of time allowed for parliamentary debate
- The lack of time and information to allow an informed public debate
- The 'underhand' way in which the government had
- not allowed even the state Premiers or the Opposition to see the bill as they intend to introduce it; and
- tried to prevent public debate for example by introducing the bill to the House of Representatives on Melbourne Cup Day when the nation's eyes were averted
- The capitulation of the Leader of the Opposition in his announced agreement to support the bill before he had seen it
- The fact that such agreement between the two main parties further stifles debate and is deleterious to our democratic heritage
Concerns about the Legislation
We express serious concerns about the legislation itself.
- We are concerned that the Australian Government is trying to pass British style terrorism laws without the most important safeguards that exist in Britain, namely the 1998 Human Rights Act
- We are concerned that Australia is trying to pass a new law based on British laws before Britain has even finished considering its law
- Without adequate protection Australians have to trust that politicians and government will not abuse those unprecedented powers. We believe this is unacceptable in a democracy.
- We are deeply concerned about the unrestrained exercise of executive and police power
- We believe that the anti-terrorism laws have the potential to criminalise many of the everyday activities of ordinary Australians
- We believe the law will violate the freedom of speech and association and in some respects has the potential to curtail economic, social and cultural rights of certain groups
The overall feeling of the meeting was that if this legislation were to be enacted in the form that seems likely, then it will be a clear sign that the terrorists are winning in any desire they may have to undermine our democratic freedoms.