The Labor state governments are aiding and abetting
the Howard government in the introduction of new anti-democratic laws
under cover of anti-terrorism. The laws are not about policing
terrorism — they are about policing the general public. Everyone is now
a suspect as far as the state apparatus is concerned.
And it is not only state Labor governments backing what amounts to the
imposition of authoritarian rule. The leader of the federal Labor
Party, Kim Beazley, is even going further than Howard, pushing for laws
to allow for whole suburbs to be locked down.
In Victoria, the Bracks government intends to give the police
unprecedented powers to stop and search people, seize goods and
secretly enter and search people’s homes. These measures are already in
place in NSW. Under the planned laws, interstate and federal police can
be brought into Victoria as "special constables", specified areas may
be locked down and police will be able to obtain closed-circuit
television footage without a court order.
Under federal plans, the Howard government intends to introduce laws to
give the federal police and ASIO more powers, including fitting
"suspects" with tracking devices, detain them for up to 14 days without
charge and make random bag searches in public areas. Similar laws are
planned for WA.
In addition the US’s internal criminal bureau, the FBI, is to set up a
branch in Sydney. Famous the world over for violating the rights of US
citizens, the FBI will be here officially to "exchange information"
between Australian and US law enforcement agencies. "Global terrorism
does not respect international boundaries", said NSW Premier Morris
Indeed, the contradictions are rife. The most recent laws introduced in
Britain include the outlawing of "glorifying of terrorism" — even as
Bush, Blair and Howard continue to glorify their own terrorism, i.e.
the criminal war against the people of Iraq.
The announcement of the FBI setting up shop came as the Wheeler report
into Sydney airport noted the connection between terrorism and criminal
But the FBI is not coming here to investigate organised crime activity
in the main gateway to Australia: they are here to help Australian
policing bodies deal with the unrest and opposition that is inevitable
as social conditions in the country continue to break down.
It should be recalled that increased police powers introduced by the
Blair government in Britain did not prevent the bombings in London in
Further evidence that the Howard government is heading down the path to
dictatorial rule is in the fact that it continues to marginalising a
section of the Australian community, demonising those who practice
Islam in order to whip up fear so as to have the public accept their
rights being taken away.
At a meeting last week of Australian Muslims in the Sydney suburb of
Punchbowl, Agnes Chong of the Australian Muslim Civil Rights Advocacy
Network warned of the danger of the increased police powers to
democratic rights. "We know of at least 18 people who have been
questioned and detained under ASIO warrants", she said. "Do you want
the same thing that is happening elsewhere in the world happening in
"We are not going to stand for this. We have to use every legitimate
means to prevent unjust laws." Also at the meeting the President of
Australian Muslim Students and Youth, Chaaban Omran stated, "As
Australians we just want to be treated like everyone else. We don’t
wish to have all these laws set out that will lead to us becoming
Following Beazley’s call — which includes giving authorities
search-and-seize powers and allowing police to lock down a suburb for
12 hours without court approval — Muslim civil liberties advocate
Waleed Kadous recognised it for what it is, "a political game of
one-upmanship to give away civil rights". Politically and
ideologically, Beazley is the mirror image of John Howard.
Meanwhile, the report into Sydney airport warned that "terrorists may
exploit weaknesses in airport security", but this is more likely
because it has been privatised, making the people who run it
unaccountable to the public.
It should also be recalled that crime and corruption went to the top of
the security hierarchy at the airport, with its former security manager
being exposed as having connections with international drug runners.
Garry Lee-Rogers, a whistleblower in the Australian Protective Services
— which has since been incorporated into the Australian Federal Police
— was found dead in his home in October 2002.
Last May a finding by the coroner was unable to determine the cause of
death. But according to his family and Whistleblowers Australia, he was
murdered for uncovering corruption by APS officers. In emails to
friends he predicted he would be killed and left a note saying if he
was found dead it would not be by his own hand.
Now it appears, allegedly corrupt officers from the APS are members of
the Federal Police, which has been given wide-ranging powers to
secretly detain citizens — to "disappear" people along the lines of
such fascist regimes as the one in Argentina in the 1970s and 80s. John
Wheeler was spot on in that respect at least: crime and terrorism do
28 September 2005