Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Howard's anti terror laws must be amended to protect our freedom of speech

I believe that John Howard's proposed hastily drafted anti-terror laws will compromise freedom of speech in Australia, particularly the sedition-related clauses.

John Howard and Philip Ruddock should respect the democratic process of the recent Senate inquiry and accept their own Senator's recommendations for amending this legislation.

If these recommendations are ignored, then both our freedom of speech and the fundamental workings of our democracy will be compromised. The current extended Asio powers are sufficient for dealing with the terrorist threat to Australia – which has unfortunately significantly increased since the Howard government ill advisedly committed Australia to supporting the war in Iraq.

We must look for peaceful solutions to conflict and international relations issues rather than continued military action, which is a really only making matters worse in places like Iraq. And of course, neither George Bush nor John Howard has an exit strategy for Iraq.

Prior to the United States-initiated war against Iraq (which was based on the false premise that there were weapons of mass destruction), Iraq was not sponsoring terrorist activity outside its borders, even though there were many serious human rights abuses internally.

After the invasion of Iraq, the killing and disruption resulting from the so-called "war against terror" has contributed to creating a generation of disaffected Iraqis, some of whom may now unfortunately retaliate via terrorist attacks. And serious human rights abuses continue in Iraq.

In short, the “war against terror” has made Australia and the world a much less safer place.

There is now no easy solution to either terrorism or stopping the impending civil war in Iraq.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

IR and terror laws are driven by ideology and mock democracy

If the Victorian Liberal Party senator Judith Troeth and the Liberal-National dominated Senate pass the problematic Howard Industrial Relations laws without alterations then this is making a mockery of our democracy.

Senators such as Judith Troeth are supposed to represent the people, over 150,000 of whom have just protested in Victoria in Melbourne's largest ever rally against these unnecessary and retrogressive laws which are based on ideology rather than any subjective facts or evidence about how to improve our economy.

The Senate probe has just found serious issues with the IR laws, which will now apparently be ignored. So much for due process and accountability. So much for heeding the wishes of the people and acting in our best interests.

The Howard government is hell bent on pushing through a series of ill-considered, poorly drafted laws based on ideology such as the IR and terror laws. They don't have a mandate from the people for either.

This is clearly an abuse of political power and is not in the best interests of social cohesian or the future of Australia.

We need consensus-based laws which take into account the wishes and aspirations of the people, rather than a headlong rush towards extreme economic rationalism, globalism and fear-based politics.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Confusion about terror laws - Howard scare mongering

I am confused. On Thursday 3/11 John Howard said the Australian Government had received specific intelligence and police information this week alerting it to a potential terrorist threat. He also stated that Government was satisfied that the urgent and immediate passage of new terror laws would strengthen the capacity of the law enforcement agencies to effectively respond to the threat. He even recalled the Senate to make these urgent changes.

However, on Friday 4/11 John Howard informs us that we should not expect arrests within days just because urgent terror legislation was rushed through Parliament.

So what is the real urgency behind this? It does not appear to be a specific or immediate terrorist threat, based on the above contradictory statements made by John Howard. Is it a desire to rush through hasty and ill-considered legislation that compromises our human rights?

Rushed legislation has a high risk of being bad legislation. We need leadership from our political leaders rather than scare mongering.

The only thing certain is that Australia has become a less safer place since John Howard sent Australia to war in Iraq based on faulty intelligence. Let’s not make a similar mistake by passing bad legislation in undue haste that will not actually prevent terrorist acts.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Release David Hicks from Guantanamo Bay and censure Howard

I find it completely unacceptable that both George Bush and John Howard claim that setting up kangaroo courts (5 years in the making) outside of any country's established legal system and keeping David Hicks interred in inhumane conditions at Guantanamo Bay is a good and fair process. Clearly it is not.

I also find it completely unacceptable that both George Bush and John Howard justify this by saying that the detainees "have done bad and terrible things". They have provided no proof of this and there is no fair process for testing the evidence. Many of the detainees have now been released without any trial or charges, but not David Hicks.

Even the photo of David Hicks with a rocket launcher published in many newspapers is not relevant. It was taken in Kosovo, not Afghanistan or Pakistan.

John Howard has publicly made several allegations about David Hick’s involvement with terrorist groups, which have not been assessed by any independent legal process.

John Howard has also stated that “the Australian Government is satisfied that the United States Military commission process will provide the proper measure of justice to David Hicks”.

This is not supported by Australian legal experts, nor by the Blair government in Great Britain which stated that the Guantanamo Bay detainees would not be tried under fair standards and that the detainees rights to a fair trial and not to be tortured must not be compromised, and then got all UK detainees released.

John Howard appears to be guilty of a crime against humanity by supporting the “outside of law” treatment of David Hicks by the United States, in breach of his human rights.

It is a sad day when our political leaders take on the role of judge and jury and don’t respect the human rights of Australian citizens. Let us hope this aberration does not extend to them becoming executioners as well.

David Hicks should be immediately returned to Australia then either tried under the Australian legal system or released if no charges are laid.

For more information see Amnesty International report: Guantánamo Bay - a human rights scandal and