Sunday, June 28, 2015
The biggest manufacturing industry in Australia at the moment, is the LNP manufacturing crisis after fear-fuelled crisis.
Prime Minister Abbott and his cronies have renewed their attacks on the ABC following a young Muslim man named Zaky Mallah being given airtime (live of all things) during ABC's Q&A program on Monday 22 June 2015.
The self-righteous naying and braying from the conservative government and many of their followers was in relation to Mr Mallah being a 'suspected' terrorist and having been jailed for threatening to kill two ASIO officers.
Criminal? Yes. But he's served his time. Should he be banned from exercising the same freedom of speech rights as everyone else? No.
On the live broadcast, Mallah stated, rather poorly, that the government's actions isolating and targeting Muslims will feed the anger that motivates and possibly radicalises some. For the record, Mallah wasn't justifying radicalisation but trying to explain how some justify to themselves reasons for becoming 'radicalised'. Certainly this is a valid point and worth further discussion if we are going to address and prevent radicalisation.
Abbott labelled the ABC a 'lefty lynch mob' and claimed that 'heads should roll' at the ABC for this 'grave error of judgement' (1). Yet where was the dog-whistling from Abbott et al when The Australian newspaper wrote an entire article about Mallah and his views in 2012 (2). Mallah has received publicity for years in the mainstream media. In a recent tweet, he claimed that he was paid $500 for such an interview in 2003.
The federal LNP government has been attacking the ABC since it won government.
In 2013, the ABC, in conjunction with the Guardian, reported that Australia had been tapping the mobile phones of Indonesia's President, his wife and inner circle (3). In January 2014, the ABC wrote an article that dared to air accusations that Royal Australian Navy personnel had physically abused asylum seekers. The allegations were never proven ... or disproven. The ABC later apologised for the story (4).
At the time, Abbott suggested that the ABC was on everyone else's side except Australia's. He even stated that the media should be 'cheer-leaders for Australia' (5). I wonder how that factors into the negativity that was the hallmark of his leadership of the Opposition which included him publicly and internationally belittling Australia's economy, asylum seeker policies and pretty much everything that the ALP put their hands to when in government. In Opposition, Abbott was no cheerleader for Australia.
Interestingly, Abbott also claimed that the Naval personnel should be given the 'benefit of the doubt' over the abuse allegations. If this is the case, why hasn't the government extend this 'benefit of the doubt' to Zaky Mallah who was acquitted of terrorism charges in a court of law. Suspicion is enough for the government to maintain its self-righteous rage, which is why the proposal to allow the government to revoke citizenship of 'suspected' terrorists is particularly concerning.
The rule of law and the presumption of innocence clearly isn't valued by this government.
The hypocrisy is strong in this one.
Apparently it is unpatriotic and bordering on treason, to suggest that Australian officials could be committing crimes.
ABC's managing director, Mark Scott, stated that the ABC is not a state broadcaster, it is 'not the communications arm of the government' (6). Given the government's inability to handle criticism, perhaps the Prime Minister would rather that the ABC be renamed TASS, after the state-run news outlet and mouthpiece of the Soviet Union. That way he could be assured of the ABC cheer-leading for Australia Abbott-style.
This inability to handle criticism may explain the LNP's unprecedented attack on Gillian Triggs, the President of the Human Rights Commission. Like the ABC, the HRC is an independent body. It is meant to be independent of government interference. Triggs was accused of playing partisan politics over the timing of her revelation of child abuse in Australian run immigration detention centres. The government's response was to call for her resignation. There was no effort to actually stop the abuse of children in the centres. In fact, the government went even further and made it a crime for workers in the detention centres to blow the whistle on abuse. It would seem that playing politics is more important to the government than stopping the abuse of children. When discussing asylum seekers in general, whether it be boat arrivals or alleged government payments to people smugglers, the government clams up and claims these are 'national security matters'.
The government clearly has issues with independent bodies. It clearly has issues with secrets. And it clearly has issues with the truth being revealed ... or exposed.
Remember the data retention legislation and the government's ludicrous claim that if people have nothing to hide, then they have nothing to fear.
Plenty to hide and plenty to fear.
It would appear that the government itself has plenty to fear given their efforts to hide so much from the public and its vilification of those who bring the government's dirty secrets to light.
The LNP thrives on fear. It's popularity is built on fear and lies. Whenever there is a dip in the polls, the LNP rolls out a scapegoat to scare the population into believing that only the government can ride in like a knight in shining armour to protect us all. John Howard did it regularly and spectacularly starting with the 2001 Tampa crisis which was manufactured to recover significant ground lost to the Labor party in the lead up to the federal election. From there, Howard never looked back.
Abbott uses the same methodology: dog-whistling, fear-mongering, scape-goating.
The biggest manufacturing industry in Australia at the moment, is the LNP manufacturing crisis after fear-fuelled crisis.
It's not the loyalty of the ABC, Gillian Triggs or whistle-blowers that should be called into question. It's the loyalty of a government that deliberately undermines the values that Australia is built on. Values of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the rule of law and the notion of the fair go.
The essence of democracy is that government must be scrutinised and be answerable to the population. Questioning, critiquing and demanding transparency of government is not an act of sedition, it is not a lack of loyalty, it is not unpatriotic.
Voicing contrary opinions is not treason. Silencing those voices in a democracy is. Silencing and directly attacking dissent is a betrayal of the very foundation of democracy and free society.
Archibald MacLeish, American poet, stated:
Once you permit those who are convinced of their own superior rightness to censor and silence and suppress those who hold contrary opinions, just at that moment the citadel has been surrendered.
We must not surrender the citadel of free speech, human rights and transparent bureaucracy to any government irrespective of whatever fear and hate campaigns they mount.
Regardless of how many flags the Prime Minister stands in front of to deliver the government's haughty hyperbole, it is his loyalty that needs to be questioned. Any government must be held to account when it consistently and vehemently attacks and demonises members of a specific religion, attacks and demonises workers and unions, attacks and demonises the independence of independent organisations, attacks and demonises the most vulnerable in society and uses fear-mongering to undermine and disregard freedoms that Australians enjoy and value.
Tony Abbott, whose side are you on?
1. ABC, Emma Griffiths, 'Q&A: PM Tony Abbott labels program a 'lefty lynch mob' as ABC admits error in judgement over former terrorism suspect Zaky Mallah's appearance', 23 June 2015, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-06-23/abc-to-review-acquitted-former-terror-suspect-qa-appearance/6565886. Accessed 28 June 2015.
2. The Australian, Adam Shand, 'Rebel urges Muslims to wage a jihad of peace', 20 September 2012, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/immigration/rebel-urges-muslims-to-wage-a-jihad-of-peace/story-fn9hm1gu-1226477622326. Accessed 28 June 2015.
3. The Guardian, Daniel Hurst, 'Tony Abbott criticises ABC for working with Guardian Australia on spying story', 1 December 2013, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/01/abbott-criticises-abc-guardian-australia-spying. Accessed 28 June 2015.
4. Sydney Morning Herald, Matthew Knott, 'ABC head Mark Scott admits mistakes over report claiming navy inflicted asylum seeker burns', 4 February 2014, http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/abc-head-mark-scott-admits-mistakes-over-report-claiming-navy-inflicted-asylum-seeker-burns-20140204-31z31.html. Accessed 28 June 2015.
5. Sydney Morning Herald, Judith Ireland, 'Tony Abbott blasts national broadcaster: ABC takes 'everyone's side but Australia's', 29 January 2014, http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/tony-abbott-blasts-national-broadcaster-abc-takes-everyones-side-but-australias-20140129-31lt8.html. Accessed 28 June 2015.
6. The Guardian, Amanda Meade and Daniel Hurst, 'Mark Scott fires back: 'I hope no one wants the ABC to be a state broadcaster' ', 25 June 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/jun/25/mark-scott-fires-back-i-hope-no-one-wants-the-abc-to-be-a-state-broadcaster. Accessed 28 June 2015.
Updated 4 July 2015.
Saturday, June 13, 2015
Nothing smashes a people smuggling model like paying people smugglers.
Remember when the LNP claimed they would stop the boats by smashing the people smuggling model? Since then there have been boat turn-backs and it appears as though very few boats have reached Australia. However, when quizzed about anything to do with turn-backs, arrivals or tactics being used, the LNP pull up the shutters and state that they can't discuss operational matters.
When they were in opposition, the LNP published these 'operational matters' on bill-boards (1) and even told the so-called people smugglers that under Labor, Australia had rolled out the 'Rudd-carpet' for asylum seekers to make the perilous journey by boat from Indonesia(2) (3). Come one, come all.
|Opposition Leader Tony Abbott keeping 'operational matters' a national secret.|
Courtesy SBS (4)
This week, Prime Minister Abbott refused to rule out whether Australia has paid people smugglers $5,000 each to return asylum seekers to Indonesia (5). Surely a simple 'No' would not breach operational secrecy, particularly considering that Indonesia is now a little miffed and has demanded answers of the Australian ambassador (6).
If true, Australia is possibly breaching international law (yet again) by employing people smugglers. I wonder if the people smugglers enjoy a Comsuper scheme. But I digress.
|Courtesy of: FridayMash.com|
Australia has breached numerous international laws in their effort to secure votes through the demonisation of asylum seekers. Australia has refouled asylum seekers to countries where they face torture and persecution. The treatment of asylum seekers breaches our obligations under the UN Refugee Convention and also breaches the UN Convention on Torture (7). And while we're at it, why not give a couple of Naval vessels to Sri Lanka to round up any Tamils who may try to flee the human rights abuses and war crimes of the Sri Lankan government (8).
The rule of law and human rights obligations mean nothing to this government, so with this level of moral turpitude, why not chuck people smuggling in there.
While the government is benefiting from the votes gained from xenophobia, who cares how many lives are destroyed.
But at least asylum seekers are not drowning at sea, so the LNP ministers and hacks repeat ad nauseum. Well ... at least their not drowning in OUR sea. But as we've seen recently with hundreds of stateless Rohingya fleeing Burma, there are people risking their lives to flee persecution. There have been hundreds of refugees drowned trying to reach Europe from Africa. Perhaps some of these had opted for Europe instead of Australia because of the stop the boats policy.
The Abbott-led LNP government has shown that it has no interest in helping the world's most vulnerable. Instead it has shown itself to be a morally bankrupt government that is only interested in popularity which is an easy win when feeding fear, racism and xenophobia to the general population.
The LNP's economic achievements are sadly lacking, so they compensate through turning the population on itself. Spreading dissent and fear. They failed to pass many of their unfair policies in the 2014/15 budget which were attacks on the low-paid and poor while protecting the rich. They continue attacking workers rights, attacking unions such as through their royal commission into union corruption while ignoring the corrupt 'phoenix' companies who screw workers out of their hard-earned by declaring bankruptcy and then restarting without paying workers what they're owed. Demonising the poor, demonising unions, attacking workers.
The LNP's scare-mongering is aimed at distracting from these attacks on workers and the poor. It's aimed to create fears based on falsehoods about asylum seekers, terrorism and Islam. It's a narrative that is full of hyperbole, hypocrisy and lies.
Rather than persecuting the persecuted by using asylum seekers as pawns for political popularity, why not attack the source. If the LNP is truly concerned about the 'evil' trade of people smugglers, then why not increase penalties for people smuggling and give significant jail time to those who sail the boats into Australia. Most of these so-called people smugglers are Indonesian fisherman trying to make a living. It wouldn't take long for them to refuse to engage in 'people smuggling' if they faced several years in an Australian jail, unable to make a living for their families. This way any asylum seeker arriving by boat could be processed humanely and in accordance with the UN Refugee Convention and not used as a scapegoat for political posturing, while those sailing the boats are jailed. While demand for 'people smugglers' may not be reduced, the supply of people smugglers certainly would be.
Yet, instead of actually addressing the problem, the LNP has taken a sledge-hammer approach the punishes the innocent, destroys their lives, all in the name of politics. The LNP waxes lyrical on the evil of people smuggling, yet by Abbott's own admission, he is willing to engage in any activity, 'by hook or by crook' to stop the boats ... and win the votes.
1. The Hoopla, Tracey Spicer, 'They. Are. Not. Illegal', 25 April 2013, http://thehoopla.com.au/illegal. Accessed 13 June 2015.
2. Commonwealth of Australia, 2013, 'Parliamentary Debates: The Senate: Questions Without Notice, Asylum Seekers, Question 27 June 2013, page 4281, Questioner: Senator Michaela Cash, Responder: Senator Penny Wong', http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/genpdf/chamber/hansards/81320ab7-05a7-4deb-b6c9-aeba0e6b51bf/0158/hansard_frag.pdf;fileType=application%2Fpdf
3. The Australian, Scott Morrison, 'PM is the people-smugglers' best friend', 2 July 2013, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/opinion/pm-is-the-people-smugglers-best-friend/story-e6frgd0x-1226672793802. Accessed 13 June 2015.
4. SBS, Helen Davidson, 'Analysis: 'Illegals' and the erosion of empathy', 26 August 2013, http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2013/04/30/analysis-illegals-and-erosion-empathy. Accessed 15 June 2015.
5. Jakarta Globe, Matt Siegel, 'Pressure mounting Over People-smuggling Payment Reports', 12 June 2015, http://thejakartaglobe.beritasatu.com/news/pressure-mounting-australian-people-smuggler-payment-reports. Accessed 13 June 2015.
6. Sydney Morning Herald, 'Indonesia seeks answers from ambassador over people smuggler cash claims', 13 June 2015, http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/indonesia-seeks-answers-from-ambassador-over-people-smuggler-cash-claims-20150613-ghn9rk.html. Accessed 13 June 2015.
7. The Age, Lisa Cox, 'Tony Abbott: Australians 'sick of being lectured to' by the United Nations, after report finds anti-torture breach', 9 March 2015, http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/tony-abbott-australians-sick-of-being-lectured-to-by-united-nations-after-report-finds-antitorture-breach-20150309-13z3j0.html. Accessed 9 March 2015.
8. Sydney Morning Herald, Ben Doherty, 'Tony Abbott's boats gift to Sri Lanka comes under fire', 18 November 2013, http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/tony-abbotts-boats-gift-to-sri-lanka-comes-under-fire-20131117-2xp5z.html. Accessed 13 June 2015.
Note: updated 20 June 2015
In the wake of Ireland's historic referendum that gave the green light for marriage equality legislation, the spotlight is shining even brighter on similar legislation in Australia.
There are many who support the idea of allowing everyone the opportunity to marry the person of their dreams regardless of gender similarities. Not surprisingly, there are those who oppose marriage between people of the same gender. The reasons for this are usually centred in religion or just straight out abhorrence at the thought of gay sex. Funnily enough, marriage is more than sex.
Religion? Well, that's kind of a personal issue. If your religion of choice ... or more likely, your INTERPRETATION of your religion of choice opposes homosexuality then don't engage in homosexuality. However, don't force your religious views on others who are comfortable with their own religion, or lack thereof, and are even more comfortable reconciling their homosexuality with their religion. This may come as a shock, but there are Gay People who are also Christian People.
Some pastors have complained that they will be forced to officiate same-sex marriages if marriage equality legislation is passed. But the legislation can be written so that religious institutions are not forced to conduct services that conflict with their beliefs. Meanwhile, there are a number of Christian churches that are willing to host same-sex weddings.
And then there is the Cory Bernardi school of thought. The ultra-conservative Christian Senator from South Australia sincerely believes that marriage equality will lead to the legalisation of bestiality. It's a hell of a stretch to go from marrying two men or women in love to joining man and poodle in holy matrimony. Just because Dino the Doberman humps someone's leg doesn't mean he wants that someone to slip a ring on his paw or to even have a committed, monogamous relationship with that leg.
Preventing same-sex marriage doesn't stop people being gay. It just means they can have the same rights that heterosexuals have. Same-sex marriage won't destroy society, the institution of marriage or the family unit. So why the protests against it?
Now, I'm always bang up for a good protest. Hell, I've marched against the Gordon-below-Franklin Dam, the Falklands War, the Iraq War, the treatment of Australia's indigenous population and the persecution of asylum seekers and numerous other causes. I love a good protest. And they sometimes have the desired effect of either changing government policy, changing the minds of some in the community, drawing attention to an issue or sending a message.
So colour me pink when I read the protest against marriage equality that one couple in Canberra have proposed.
Nick Jensen, Director of the Lachlan Macquarie Internship and former Director of Leadership Development with the Australian Christian Lobby, and his wife Sarah, have declared that if same-sex marriage is legalised then they will divorce each other. One of their reasons is that they believe marriage is between a Man and a Woman (1), not between two men or two women.
I may have missed something in their logic, but surely divorce is a greater threat to marriage than ... well, more marriage. Just sayin'.
One of the things with protests as I mentioned earlier is the message being sent. The message being sent by the Jensens is that divorce is good, marriage is bad. Well, bad if the married couple bear the same basic genitalia as each other. Marriage is about love and commitment between two people and is not constrained to couples with disparate genitals.
When Mr Jensen found out that divorce laws may stymie his plans to divorce and continue living with his dearly beloved, he criticised the irony of the restrictions on divorce when the government is considering lifting restrictions on marriage (2). Hmmm ... is he saying that it should be easier to divorce when divorce is a bigger threat to marriage and to a stable home life for children?
So ... divorce is ok, living in sin is ok (if you're heterosexual).
I'm really not getting their message and I'm pretty certain most churches wouldn't preach it as gospel.
Mr Jensen feels that to change the legislation is a breach of contract because the law at the time of his wedding declared marriage to be between Man and Woman. Newsflash, but legislation gets amended or even revoked. Even laws that govern contracts get changed. Suck it up. That's how government works.
Mr Jensen headed his Op-Ed in the City News as 'Gay law change may force us to divorce'. No, no, no. Allowing marriage equality will not force anyone to divorce. That is a choice purely being made by Mr and Mrs Jensen as a stunt to draw attention to their antiquated beliefs.
He claims there are many Christians willing to divorce if same-sex marriages are legalised. I call 'bullshit'! No self-respecting Christian would divorce their partner to make such a pathetic political statement.
Nothing shows how much marriage is valued than getting a divorce.
This stunt cheapens the sanctity of marriage and uses it as a political tool of intolerance.
This stunt is just one in a long line of dog-whistling (sorry Cory) antics that extremist Christians use to shore up their intolerant and ignorant opinions. If you're opposed to same-sex marriage then say so, but don't drag divorce and dogs into the mix and expect to be taken seriously.
Marriage (gay or straight) is not a threat to marriage, the family unit or raising children. Divorce is.
1. City News, Nick Jensen, 'Gay law change may force us to divorce', 10 June 2015, http://citynews.com.au/2015/gay-law-change-may-force-us-to-divorce. Accessed 12 June 2015.
2. ABC, Jordan Hayne and Elise Pianegonda, 'Christian couple who vowed to divorce in face of same-sex marriage may face legal hurdle', 11 June 2015, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-06-11/christian-couple-vow-to-get-divorced-in-face-of-gay-marriage/6539412. Accessed 11 June 2015.
The Australian federal government wants to look tough on terrorism. This has been fuelled by around 100 or so Australians who've travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight with the self-declared caliphate, ISIS (Islamic State in Syria and Iraq) ... or ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and Levant) ... or Daesh ... or the 'death cult' ... depending on who you speak to.
The latest brain-wave by the LNP-led government is to revoke the citizenship of Aussies who fight with ISIL or other terrorist organisations. Presumably this doesn't extend to Australians lending physical, material, financial or moral support to Israel's illegal actions and war-crimes in Palestine. But hey, I'm happy to be corrected.
After initially proposing to cancel citizenship of any Aussie who allegedly embarked on a mission to fight with ISIL, it was pointed out that it is a breach of international law to leave a person stateless. So the bill was amended to only apply to persons with dual citizenship. Apparently, it's ok to make them someone else's problem. The LNP is doing that anyway with their 'stop the boats' mantra that has stopped most boats coming to Australia but hasn't stopped the flow of refugees throughout the world. It's just made them someone else's problem. Good one, 'Straya!
So let's make alleged terrorists someone else's problem too. What could possibly go wrong?
Let's turn to contemporary literature ... or Hollywood - whatever takes your fancy ... and a book series (or movies series, if you're more of a visual person) called Divergent, written by Veronica Roth. In the series, Roth has created a futuristic world in which people are divided into five factions. However, there are those who just don't fit in and are rejected by the factions. These people become the Factionless. Spoiler alert: not surprisingly, the Factionless rise up and destroy the establishment. One of the reasons for their success is that the factions have under-estimated the power of them; ignoring them because they (apparently) don't have the technology, governance, infrastructure that makes the civilisation that the factions know and love. Ok, it's fiction, but seriously? Allowing a terrorist to return to a terrorist state is going to feed the problem, not solve it.
There are some in the LNP who feel that the bill doesn't go far enough. They want to strip these alleged terrorists of citizenship even if that will leave them stateless. However, the bill at this stage is designed to ensure that people still have a country to call home, but what happens if the other country they're a citizen of also strips their citizenship. They will be stateless. So we could end up with an army of Stateless roaming around the globe causing havoc.
Even if they're not stateless, the LNP is happy for them to not be prosecuted for these alleged crimes, but instead to become someone else's problem and congregate with other like-minded souls, unleashing terror anywhere but here.
Wouldn't it be much better to deal with any alleged terrorist by unleashing The Law on them. Isn't it better to know where your terrorist is sleeping at night than sticking your head in the sand thinking that you're safe because they were last seen galloping across the sands of Syria, AK-47 in one hand and a falafel in the other.
To think that stripping people of citizenship will somehow keep Australia safe, kind of ignores a few things. One of those is technology. See, exiling people to a deserted island in the Pacific or the Meditarranean (Patmos I'm looking at you), may have worked 1000 years ago, but today we have the interwebs.
The interwebs, or internet (whatever you takes your fancy), gives people - even alleged terrorists - access to social media. Hell, it gives them access to all sorts of media. They can use this media to recruit people by appealing to their sense of justice, sense of adventure, religion, any number of things that motivate people. ISIS is known to promise young men and women the opportunity to marry and have a phat time before going onto commit horrendous crimes in the name of the self-declared Caliphate.
So ... yeah ... what could go wrong by exiling impressionable people to a brutal, debaucherous organisation. Apart from swelling the ranks of said organisation, making things worse for the innocent victims in Syria and Iraq, the exiled disappear from the radar and potentially become an even bigger problem.
The proposed legislation, if passed, will give the Minister for Immigration the power to revoke citizenship based on suspicion of participation in terrorism. Under the proposed legislation, a person can lose citizenship simply for being an alleged terrorist. The Minister will have wide, sweeping powers that can destroy a person's life based on an unfounded, unproven allegation. What if the allegation is false? What if it was made maliciously by someone else?
Where does 'innocent until proven guilty' factor into this? Unless a person has been charged, tried and convicted in a court of law, then they are subject to the right of law which is that they have a right to defend themselves against the allegations in front of a jury of their peers.
Remember the Magna Carta? It was signed 800 years ago this month and set the tone for legal and civil rights, by removing the absolute power of the monarch and providing, among other things, the right to trial by jury. But it's not like the government cares for the rule of law.
The federal LNP has form for blaming victims and covering up torture and abuse (check the situation with asylum seekers, particularly in the gulags such as Nauru and Manus Island). It's against the law to blow the whistle on treatment of asylum seekers and the LNP has unleashed an unprecedented attack on the Human Rights Commissioner, Gillian Triggs, accusing her of partisanship in an effort to distract from the very real abuse that she has uncovered in detention centres and for which the government of the day (whether Labor or Liberal) is responsible.
Former Immigration Minister Scott Morrison canceled the visa of a convicted paedophile who'd served a two year prison sentence that was suspended after six months. The 60 year old man was not an Australian citizen even though he'd lived in Australia for 48 years at the time of the offences being committed. He's parents had moved to Australia from England when he was only six years old. He held a visa that let him live here indefinitely. A psychologist had assessed him as showing remorse and posing a low risk.
Scott Morrison claims that he considered the substantial hardship and fragmentation that revoking the visa would have on the man's family, the difficulty he would have as a 60 year old settling into a country he hadn't lived in since six years old, as well as the positive contributions he'd made 'to the community through lengthy period of employment, sporting and community activities'. So Morrison revoked the visa in October 2014 and the man was held in Villawood Detention Centre.
A federal court judge ordered the man's release in June 2015, accepting his appeal that he'd been denied natural justice. The Commonwealth was ordered to pay the man's legal fees.
Most telling though was the judge stated the Immigration Minister had taken 'a sledgehammer to crack a nut'. He went on to state that 'His exercise of the discretion conferred on him, was, in the circumstances, in excess of what, on any view, was necessary for the purpose it served'.
Now the government wants the discretion to arbitrarily revoke citizenship without trial. While Immigration Minister Dutton claims that this will be reserved for exceptional circumstances, one has to wonder at how exceptional was it for the visa to be revoked of a man who had served his sentence and was deemed a low risk of offending.
While Dutton claims that citizenship would only be revoked in the most exceptional cases, governments do have a habit of politicising issues for their own benefit. Fabricated situations that come to mind are the Tampa affair, Children Overboard, the demonisation of asylum seekers and stereotyping of Muslims.
Over the last 12 months or so, we've seen massive numbers of police involved in raids on 'suspected' terrorists. In some cases up to 700 police swooping on these alleged terrorists, yet with only one or two people charged with minor crimes. The raids were a show of political strength. The outcome was immaterial. Use of revocation on 'suspected' terrorists, without due process, will be used similarly as a show of strength. What happens to the person exiled will be immaterial to the government.
So what should we do with the alleged terrorists returning to Australia? How about ... and this is a novel idea ... we charge them with offences under the various pieces of legislation that prohibit the wanton killing of innocent people or supporting acts of terror or the expansion of terrorist organisations. I'm pretty sure we have a bucketload of Acts that can be invoked. Particularly considering how excited the LNP got after 9/11 and passed all sorts of things. This means then, that the ALLEGED terrorists are subject to the rule of law and due process. It may not be surprising to learn that terrorist masterminds often use people through manipulation, coercion, threats or even unwittingly. It is imperative that before punishing someone for terrorism or any other offence, their culpability be confirmed.
Unfortunately, the LNP's suggestion is that the Immigration Minister will be judge, jury and executioner. The Minister will be the one responsible for overseeing the case and making the call on whether to revoke citizenship. They are justifying this by having judicial review, yet it is only the process under review, not the decision. The Minister is being given absolute power over a person's life when this should be a matter for the courts.
Australia's government is comprised of three branches, the Executive, Legislature and Judicial. The Legislature (House of Representatives and Senate) make the law. The Judicial, or Courts, interpret and apply the law. The Westminster system on which Australia's government is based requires a separation of these powers. The bill under discussion hasn't been seen yet, but at the moment the government has stated its intention to give judicial power to the Minister, a member of the Legislature. This would be a clear breach of the separation of power. To make it worse, the decision is being made without following due process of establishing the guilt of the accused or of giving the accused the ability to defend themselves against the charges.
The law is there to be enforced against crime. What is the point of having laws if we're just going to ignore the rule of law and exile those who've become a political play-thing for the LNP's popularity machine.
This proposed legislation is a further step along the road to a fascist state. The LNP started the population turning on itself (rather than turning on the government) by demonising asylum seekers, the world's most vulnerable. They used them as scape-goats and through convoluted logic turned the victims of terrorism into potential perpetrators of terrorism in order to feed government-created fear in the community. And this was for one reason: votes.
A fearful population is willing to give up rights and rule of law to protect themselves. Give them a scape-goat to blame and they will crucify them.
Citizens have rights. Citizens who commit crimes, no matter how heinous, have rights to a fair trial.
Worried about radicalisation? Exiling an innocent person is a great way to radicalise them. And if the accused is involved in terrorism, then exiling rather than jailing them will only feed a State of terrorists and radicals.
Note: updated 18 June 2015