Published in The Age, 10 September 2005
NO ONE can deny that Australia faces real threats, and that the Government has an obligation to protect us. But let's be sensible. There has been one terrorist attack in mainland Australia since 1978, and the Sydney Hilton bombing is still wrapped in suspicion about who did it. There were three unfortunate deaths. Even if we include the terrible butchery in the Bali bombing, in which 88 Australians died, the comparison between deaths from terrorism and the more accepted causes is very small. Between 1989 and 2005, 31,779 people were killed on our roads and about 9550 were killed in workplace accidents.
None of the measures suggested in this knee-jerk legislation will stop even a harebrained schemer, let alone a well-trained activist, getting to their target. Someone in the Government is clearly well-versed in the writings of George Orwell in the way that fear and loathing are raised and lowered to suit the political climate. When the heat in the political kitchen gets too hot, light a fire of fear in the backyard to distract us.