Wednesday, November 2, 2005
A small group of people gathered in protest outside the New South Wales Parliament in Sydney, Australia at midday. The group was protesting the proposed Anti-Terrorism Bill, calling upon Premier Iemma not to support the laws. The protest was organised by the New South Wales Greens and was addressed by several speakers, including Lee Rhiannon, an elected Greens parliamentarian from the New South Wales Legislative Council.
One protester carried a placard which read: “Terrorism Laws=Fascism!” She compared the proposed legislation to the 1933 German Enabling Act, saying “It is the most basic rule of democracy is that you have the right to legal representation and Hitler took that away, that was Habeas corpus as it was called, in 1933 legislation and from that moment on thats when everything began. They could remove people, anyone who objected anyone who was a witness, anyone who tried to find out what happened could also be removed.”
“John Howard’s terror law would not make Australia safer”, Lee Rhiannon said in her speech, “They will not stop a London style bombing occurring in Australia and that’s what we need to remember. This is another one of John Howards’s lies. Let’s remember weapons of mass destruction, (and) children overboard.”
The Australian government introduced anti-terror laws after September 11, and has sought to extend those laws in the wake of the London train bombings.
The government claimed in a media release today that it has this week received specific information about a terrorist threat to Australia.
“The Government has received specific intelligence and police information this week which gives cause for serious concern about a potential terrorist threat. The detail of this intelligence has been provided to the Leader of the Opposition and the Shadow Minister for Homeland Security,” the release said.
The government claims that the new bill is intended to improve the ability of intelligence services and the police to counter this threat.
“The Government is satisfied on the advice provided to it that the immediate passage of this bill would strengthen the capacity of law enforcement agencies to effectively respond to this threat,” the release said.
Dr Andrew Lynch, Project Director of the Terrorism and Law project at the Gilbert & Tobin Centre of Public Law, has said that Rhiannon has raised some valid issues regarding some of the provisions in the proposed legislation.
“It is difficult to see how many of [the provisions] will enhance our security. For example, the bans on free speech will only drive inciting and hateful messages under ground which must make the job of security forces harder in identifying real threats. The restrictions on family members knowing about the detention of their children is not conceivably going to improve our safety. There is a lot to be said for the view that depriving people of their liberty on the basis only of ‘reasonable suspicion’ might well fuel feelings of alienation amongst some groups which could be harnessed by extremists,” Dr Lynch said.
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