Ten years after the behavior of over-leveraged and fraudulent banks created a global financial disaster that resulted in hundreds of billions of dollars in losses; a multi-trillion bailout using public money; and millions of people losing their homes to foreclosure, but saw not one high-level financial executive go to jail, a man in Florida has been sentenced to a 20-year prison term for stealing $600 worth of cigarettes from a local convenience store.
What does all this mean? Over two years have passed without any further comment about the WGAD’s findings by the Turnbull Government. Now the Government is paying lip service to the existence and role of the WGAD – as it must as a conscientious member of the United Nations – but refusing publicly to accept or even acknowledge its findings in relation to Mr Assange’s detention, let alone in any way trying to address them.
Given our Government’s demonstrated capacity, when it puts its mind to it, to effect the early release of Australian citizens from curial processes and prisons in other countries – and given that the foundational proceedings against Assange by Sweden have now evaporated – it surely has an obligation to act on the findings of the WGAD and negotiate the safe repatriation of Mr Assange from England back to Australia.
Steven Jessie Harris allegedly embarked on a violent spree over a decade ago. Since then, he has been in jail, waiting for a trial date, which never came. He was finally released after doctors found him mentally incompetent to stand trial.
By freef’all852 Five marks on the Tablet, Three cuts in the Stone, Five loaves for the masses, Then it will all be gone … My comrades, fellow country folk … We are in deep shit … After a working lifetime of research and writing, after a working lifetime of total dedication to his craft, Edward…
A man who filed hundreds of fake tax returns in the names of international students to claim money from the tax office will serve his sentence under an intensive corrections order.
Mathias Corman says the CBA fraud is all in the past and should be forgotten. Joe Hockey allows evasion to proceed after promising to go after it. In the world of an increasing wealth gap our courts process and jail the minnows of our community and allow the whales to swim off unpunished. Abbott has appointed Scott Morrison to police the poor and disabled. Who polices the top end of town?
The prosecution of Freya Newman, court actions against news outlets and police investigations of immigration leaks show the war on whistleblowers is escalating
Freedom is difficult to resuscitate once extinguished. Australian attorney-general George Brandis recently chastised journalists for criticising his government’s new laws aimed at preventing reporting about “special intelligence operations”. Because he’s a culture warrior brawler, Brandis damned the “usual suspects of the paranoid, fantasist left” but also “reputable conservative commentators” for questioning his judgment over what citizens should and should not learn through the media.
“Never believe anything until it’s officially denied” was a favourite expression of the Irish journalist Claud Cockburn, father of the British reporter Patrick Cockburn. It’s a motto worth remembering as we’re faced with a barrage of state-led and private interest attacks on leaks and leakers.
The examples are many, but what occurred on Thursday raises grave concerns for whistleblowers in Australia. Take the case of Freya Newman, a young and part-time librarian at Whitehouse School of Design in Sydney. She accessed information on the institute’s computer system that showed prime minister Tony Abbott’s daughter, Frances Abbott, received a “chairman’s scholarship” worth $60,000.
Newman has pleaded guilty to the offence of unauthorised access to a computer system, and on Thursday appeared in court. The prosecution appeared not to be pushing for a jail sentence but a record of the crime. The fact remains that Newman has been aggressively pursued for a noble example of exposing a matter of public interest.
Newman’s whistleblowing was defended by lawyer Julian Burnside as vital insights into secret access and clearly should be designated as in the public interest. Crucially, he notes that she would have been likely protected by whistleblower protection if working for a government organisation but she was exposed to legal censure because she was employed by a private organisation.
Independent news website New Matilda has released a slew of leaks this year and faced heavy, but predictable criticism. New Matilda operates differently, aiming to piss off the pompously positioned. The current controversy over Sydney University’s Barry Spurr, a consultant to the Abbott government’s review of the national curriculum, is yet another case of smearing a whistle-blower who released a slew of racist and sexist emails to New Matilda.
In an outrageous attack on press freedom, Spurr has tried to legally force New Matilda to reveal its sources and prevent them publishing anything else related to the story. It’s a case of attempted intimidation that New Matilda has happily challenged, and later on Thursday Spurr dropped his bid to expose the source, although the case is still continuing. I’m yet to read other media outlets offering support for the small publisher.
Rather than address the issues raised by Spurr’s compromised position as a man who longs for colonial times, The Australian’s Sharri Markson reported that the emails may have been obtained by hacking, allegations slammed by editor Chris Graham.
The source of the leak is again questioned in an Australian editorial: “the [New Matilda] website maintains [the story] is based on leaks from a source, rather than hacking, as Professor Spurr alleges”. Even entertainer Barry Humphries has damned the release of the emails, wilfully ignoring the political significance of such a man with vile views to perpetuate white Australia in the education system of the 21st century.
There are many other examples of this war on whistleblowers in Australia. Immigration minister Scott Morrison has maintained a medieval seal on details over his border security policy and yet has been happy to find friendly, News Corp Australia reporters to smear critics of his policy. The government has now referred Save the Children workers to be investigated by the Australian Federal Police over “unauthorised” disclosures of information. It was clear intimidation, designed to make employees shut up.
In a haze of claims and counter-claims, with Operation Sovereign Borders celebrated as saving taxpayer dollars, the detail of a breach of security within the department is ignored or dismissed as insignificant. The source of these allegations against Save the Children was first reported in a Daily Telegraph story as being from an intelligence report that they also appear to have been leaked, and which was published on the day of Morrison’s announcement about the investigation. Leaking to obedient journalists doesn’t indicate a healthy whistle-blower culture but rather a docile political environment that rewards favouritism. It reduces democracy to sanctioned drops into reporter’s in-boxes.
Amidst all the fury over angry ideologues concerned that their bigoted conservative values are under attack lie the importance of whistle-blowing without fear or favour. It’s a global problem that’s being led by Nobel Peace Prize winner himself, US president Barack Obama. His administration is publicly supportive of disclosure while prosecuting countless people including the New York Times’ James Risen and perfecting the selective leak to cosy reporters. It’s a particular problem with national security journalism, where the vast bulk of writing is left to stenographers of the bloated intelligence and military apparatus.
Effective whistleblower legislation in democracies isn’t enough because governments have proven their willingness to protect anything that embarrasses or shames them. The persecution of Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Thomas Drake, amongst others, is about saving face and not lives. Journalists, aggressive media companies and citizens must revolt and challenge the very fundamentals of our secretive age. This means publishing state and business secrets and widening the overly narrow definition of what constitutes being in the public interest.
Rejecting the criminalising of journalism should be in every reporter’s DNA. The Snowden releases have fundamentally altered the ways in which we understand digital journalism and how we must protect sources away from prying private and government eyes.
Over a year ago I wrote an article outlining the range of documents and stories that need to be told by the invaluable work of whistle-blowers. Today I’m calling for all documents that reveal the operational details of Operation Sovereign Borders, the legal justification for providing Iraqi immunity for Australian special forces in Iraq and the evidence of Australian acquiescence in abandoning citizen Julian Assange at London’s Ecuadorian embassy.
The five finalists have been announced for the coveted NAZI Stormtrooper of the Year Award. The award is given each year to the SWAT team or individual law enforcement officer who, in the opinion of the judges, perpetrates the most heinous atrocity on an innocent American citizen during a drug raid or traffic stop. The award is sponsored by the Peace Officers Malevolent League, the National Association of Corrupt Prosecutors, the Bribable Judges Guild, and the Sadistic Souls Motorcycle Club of Brighton, Illinois.
This year the awards ceremony will take place in Atlanta because of the high number of abominations carried out by officers representing that great state. The winner of this year’s competition is expected to be announced sometime this week.
Below you will find a brief synopsis of each raid and subsequent barbaric obscenity being considered by the panel of judges.
1. The Phonesavanh Family, Habersham County, Georgia
In Cornelia, Georgia on May 28—narcotics officers carried out a paramilitary no-knock SWAT raid at 3 AM at the home of Alecia Phonesavanh. The person they were looking for, Phonesavanh’s nephew Wanis Thonetheva, was suspected of making a $50 methamphetamine sale. Thonetheva, however, didn’t even live in Phonesavanh’s home and was nowhere to be found during the raid. But Phonesavanh’s 19-month-old toddler, Bounkham “Bou Bou” Phonesavanh, was home. After breaking down the door of the Phonesavanh home, one of the officers tossed a flashbang grenade—which landed in the baby’s crib, exploded and caused the toddler extensive injuries (including severe burns, disfigurement and hole in his chest that exposed his ribs). No drugs were found in the home, and Wanis Thonetheva was subsequently arrested later without incident.
To make matters worse, Habersham County officials announced in August that the county would not be giving the Phonesavanh family any assistance with the baby’s huge medical expenses. And the fact that members of the SWAT team escaped criminal charges on October 6 only encourages militarized narcotics officers to continue endangering the public.
2. David Hooks, East Dublin, Georgia
In September, methamphetamine addict Rodney Garrett confessed to stealing an SUV from the home of 59-year-old David Hooks, an East Dublin, Georgia resident who owned a construction company. Garrett claimed that he found a bag of meth in the vehicle, and the Laurens County Sheriff’s Department obtained a warrant for a no-knock raid on Hooks’ home. When the SWAT team broke into Hooks’ house on September 23, Hooks—according to attorney Mitchell Shook, who is representing Hooks’ widow—thought he was being robbed again and grabbed a gun to defend himself, although Shook said Hooks’ didn’t actually fire it. At least 16 shots were fired by the SWAT team, killing Hooks instantly. Shook told reporters, “There is no evidence that David Hooks ever fired a weapon.”
No drugs were found in the home during a 44-hour search. And there was no evidence that Hooks had any involvement in drug trafficking apart from the dubious claims of a confessed meth addict and car thief.
3. Jason Westcott, Tampa, Florida
Militarized police are a hazard all over the United States, but progressive talk radio host/attorney Mike Papantonio has said more than once that militarized police in the Deep South (who he describes as “Dixieland stormtroopers”) are especially toxic. And the Dixieland stormtroopers were feeling very trigger-happy when, on May 27, a SWAT team in Tampa, Florida carried out a no-knock raid on the home of 29-year-old Jason Westcott (who narcotics officers suspected of selling marijuana). Westcott, who evidently believed he was being robbed, grabbed his gun—and he was killed when the SWAT team opened fire. Officers found about two dollars worth of marijuana in the house.
4. Larry Lee Arman, St. Paul, Minnesota
There have been many examples of militarized narcotics officers killing pet dogs during drug raids, and the two dogs that St. Paul, Minnesota resident Larry Lee Arman owned were shot and killed when a SWAT team carried out a no-knock drug raid on his home onJuly 9. Although Arman acknowledges that he is a recreational marijuana user, he has vehemently denied any involvement in drug trafficking—and the only items found during the raid were a glass bong and marijuana remnants in a metal grinder. Camille Perry, Arman’s girlfriend, was present during the raid and said that she feared for the lives of her children. “The only thing I was thinking was my kids were going to get hit by bullets,” Perry told Minneapolis’ KMSP-TV. But gratefully, their children—unlike Bounkham “Bou Bou” Phonesavanh—were not injured.
5. Lillian Alonzo, Manchester, New Hampshire
Journalist Radley Balko (author of Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces) has often said that when paramilitary weapons are used in connection with investigations for nonviolent offenses, the chances of innocent people being injured escalate. That happened in Manchester, New Hampshire on August 27, when members of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raided the apartment of 49-year-old Lilian Alonzo.
Although two of her daughters, Johanna Nunez and Jennifer Nunez, were suspects in the investigation, Alonzo herself was not a suspect—and neither of them lived with her. During the raid, the unarmed Alonzo was picking up a baby when two shots were fired; one of them went through her left arm and entered her left ribcage (30 stitches were needed). No drugs were found in Lilian Alonzo’s apartment.
Dwayne Perry, Cartersville, Georgia
In Cartersville, Georgia, state narcotics officers acted like soldiers in Fallujah, Al Anbar when, in early October, they invaded the back yard of Dwayne Perry. Flying overhead in a helicopter, they were searching for marijuana plants and thought they spotted some in Perry’s yard. The officers, weapons drawn, invaded the yard with a K-9 unit. But what they thought were marijuana plants turned out to be okra plants. Perry told WSB-TV: “I was scared…….They were strapped to the gills. Anything could have happened.”
- Petitioning The Australian Government
Stop Deaths in Custody
- Petition by
- Justice for Julieka
On August 4th, Julieka Dhu became another death in custody statistic to the Western Australia police and the Australian government. On that very same day, Julieka’s family and friends were devastated and very shocked- they had been told twice that she was doing ‘fine’ when she was very far from being ok. She was, in fact, grievously ill, she was wounded and she needed immediate help. She was twice cleared by Hedland Health Campus to be returned to police custody, even though an autopsy shows that at the time, she would have been suffering with a head injury, a possibly re-fractured rib, with bleeding in and around her lung. Witnesses have stated that she was begging for help but was dismissed as a ‘druggie’ and then a ‘mental case’.
Julieka was failed by the system. Nobody deserves to die like that, wounded, begging for help and being mocked and dismissed. All because she had around $1,000 in unpaid fines. This latest tragedy could easily have been prevented.
In 1987, the Hawke government set up the Royal commission into Indigenous deaths in custody, to help find out why Indigenous deaths in custody were so prevalent and to address how to stop it. When the commission handed down its findings, the Australian government lost it’s right to feign ignorance of the issue. The commission made over 300 recommendations to either eliminate or significantly reduce deaths in custody. Yet very few, if any were ever acted upon.
Twenty years of nothing while Indigenous Australians die in horrendous conditions, often for trifling offences, while under the DUTY OF CARE of police is unacceptable.
We are done waiting for the police, state or federal governments to decide that this needs to stop. We are demanding:
1. Timely coronial inquest into Ms Dhu’s death in custody
- Timely, regular and culturally competent communication to families
- Royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody
- No imprisonment as penalty for non-payment of fines and infringement
- 24hr legal advice custody notification and R U OK phone line
- 24hn medical coverage at watch house and on call medical assistance at lockups
- Independent public inquiry into systemic racism, sexism in the justice system
- Independent authority to investigate all custodial deaths
- New criminal offenses of corporate and custodial manslaughter
- Inspector of custodial services to oversee all lock ups in WA
- Build communities, not prisons
That is why, on Thursday, 23rd October, Australia will march, with a national ‘STOP DEATHS IN CUSTODY’ rally, held simultaneously throughout Geraldton, Perth, Adelaide, South Hedland, Sydney, and Melbourne. We will no longer allow the government and its agencies to ignore this issue. We will be heard!
Today, the terrorists have won. The rights and freedoms of Australian citizens have been sacrificed.
And this has occurred for no good reason.
Despite concerns raised by dozens of academics, lawyers, rights groups, the dumped national security legislation monitor Bret Walker, SC, and human rights commissioner Tim Wilson, new national security legislation that will jail journalists and whistleblowers if they reveal information about covert “special” operations passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
The legislation cleared the Senate last week with bipartisan support.
No amendments were accepted, other than those introduced in the Senate by the Palmer United Party, which imposed even tougher penalties on leakers than originally drafted.
Anyone – including journalists, whistleblowers and bloggers – who “recklessly” discloses “information … [that] relates to a special intelligence operation” faces up to 10 years’ jail.
Any operation can be declared “special” by the attorney-general of the day after ASIO makes an application.
The legislation, which also enables the entire Australian internet to be monitored with just a single computer warrant, is a disgrace. Our Parliament, especially the Labor opposition, has failed us.
As an example of this, we need only look at the shadow attorney-general’s comments on ABC News 24 on Tuesday, when he was asked if operations that embarrass government could be covered up by “special operations”.
This is astounding, especially considering warnings that the new legislation makes it a crime if, for example, the media wanted to disclose the death of an innocent bystander caught up in a bungled covert spy operation.
Under them, “reckless” journalists will be jailed if they report on cases such as the tapping by Australia of the phones of the Indonesian President and his wife.
Labor did not do its job properly, and it was left to the Australian Greens deputy leader Adam Bandt and independent crossbenchers, such as Andrew Wilkie and Cathy McGowan, to speak out.
Under the laws, former and current officers of the Australian foreign intelligence agency ASIS, who communicate any classified information, will face 10 years’ jail, up from two years. eg Andrew Wilkie
If they disclose their names and who they work for, that’s another 10 years’ jail, up from one year.
Make no mistake about it. These laws are designed to stop future whistleblowers who reveal information that might embarrass a government, such as the accusation ASIS spies bugged East Timor’s cabinet room to gain a competitive advantage when negotiating how to split $40 billion worth of oil and gas deposits.
They will also stop future Edward Snowdens from speaking out about abuses of power.
When the former ASIS officer who alleged Australia bugged East Timor’s cabinet room went to IGIS, it’s been reported that he was told to get a lawyer if he wanted to take his case further.
The officer did that, and, soon after, their office was raided, as was that of East Timor’s Australian lawyer, Bernard Collaery.
David Irvine, the former head of ASIO who retired recently, was head of ASIS at the time the bugging was alleged to have occurred.
The bugging case is now before arbitration between Australia and East Timor, and there are fears the new laws could apply to the ASIS officer, known as Witness K, when giving further evidence on the matter.
This would mean the officer could now be jailed for up to 10 years for communicating what he or she believes was in the public interest instead of facing two years’ jail.
Attorney-General Brandis has flatly refused to comment on whether Witness K or future Witness Ks could be subjected to the new laws, arguing that the questions are “hypothetical” in nature.
Will East Timor’s quest for justice be quashed by these new laws? Only time will tell.
Our values define us not our race or religion
When Muslims are threatened and mosques defaced NSW Commissioner sees it as bigotry that requires no extra effort by police. When a 14-year-old Muslim boy yells abuse and waves a black flag it’s a hate crime. A concerted effort is made and arrests follow.
September 30, 2014 – 12:00AM
Political philosopher and regular columnist
View more articles from Tim Soutphommasane
We must be vigilant on more than one front. We must be united in countering terror. We must not allow fear and suspicion to triumph.Nothing would please ISIL extremists more than to see Muslim Australians being alienated or ostracised. Were this to happen, ISIL’s job becomes easier – it would help them recruit disaffected Muslims to their heinous cause.
At the same time, there are xenophobic factions that see an opportunity to spread their messages of hate. Muslim communities have reported an increase in hate attacks. There has been abuse of Muslims on streets and graffiti on mosques. There have been violent threats: last week a man armed with a knife entered an Islamic college in south-west Sydney.Anti-Muslim bigotry is now contaminating community harmony at large. For example, Sikh Australians say they are becoming targets of racial abuse because people are linking turbans to terrorism.
Bigotry has no place in our society. There is no right to be a bigot. Every person in Australia should be free to live without being subjected to harassment or humiliation. As a liberal democracy we uphold the freedom to practise your religion.
Indeed, while a small number subscribe to their abhorrent ideology, the overwhelming majority of Muslim Australians do not.Why would they support a group whose actions are certain to make their life more difficult?
Earlier this month in the Sydney suburb of Lakemba I attended a community barbecue organised by Lebanese community leader Dr Jamal Rifi. Thousands from the community attended under the banner of “Muslims Love Australia”. They are evidently patriotic.The patriotism I saw in Lakemba was a particular kind. It’s the patriotism of migrants, a love of country that comes not from ancestry but from citizenship.
Such patriotism is typically a pride that lies within. But it’s the right kind of pride for a multicultural Australia – a modern Australia that has been built on immigration. We are a country that is today defined by our values, and not by race or religion.
Everyone should feel relaxed and comfortable in their own skin. Everyone should enjoy the right to express their heritage or practise their faith. Where religion or culture clashes with any of these things, the demands of citizenship must prevail. Our civic identity is paramount.
“I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people, whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and liberties I respect, and whose laws I will uphold and obey.”
Most of all, we must remember that national security can never be divorced from cultural harmony and social cohesion. And we are always better placed to combat threats when we are united rather than divided.
Tim Soutphommasane is Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner
Like many things our prime minister says, it is simply a convenient lie.These are not good laws. They are not even laws to make Australia safer.These are cynical, opportunistic laws. Laws barrelled through under the spurious guise of protecting us against a fanatical foreign Islamic beheading cult with apparent links to Muslims in this country.
They are appalling laws, built on a lie.
There has never been an act of domestic terror in Australia. And no, a lone teenager committing a seemingly unplanned act of violence is neither a terror attack nor a retrospective justification for foreign military intervention and ramped up “counter-terrorism” powers.The so-called Islamic State ‒ a ragtag bunch of rebels occupying a chunk of land about the size of Tasmania half a world away, is hardly a threat to anyone — except if you happen to live in Iraq or Syria. American Homeland Security are quite clear on that
Yes, there may indeed be 50 or 60 Australians fighting with them, but that doesn’t make them a threat here in Australia — particularly after ASIO summarily cancelled their passports. Any supporters these foreign fighters have in this country ‒ a miniscule number at most ‒ are surely able to be easily monitored using existing laws and, if they commit a criminal act, arrested and prosecuted under the existing criminal law.
The real reason for these new powers has got nothing to do with Islamic State, or ISIL, or ISIS ‒ or whatever they are called this week ‒ but they are to do with closing down scrutiny of Australia’s spies and the Government unpublicised activities.
ASIO have been caught with their pants down on two majorly embarrassing occasions since the Abbott Government took power last year.
The first occurred when the ABC and Guardian Australia published leaks from former U.S. intelligence operative whistleblower Edward Snowden that our spies had tapped then Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s mobile phone for 15 days in 2009. These revelations caused a major rift with Indonesia and is still a lingering source of tension.
It was not long after this event, on January 28, that Abbott first used his famous “team” epithet, while denouncing the ABC in an interview with on 2GB with his friend, right wing Sydney shock jock Ray Hadley [IA emphasis]:
“It dismays Australians when the national broadcaster appears to take everyone’s side but our own and I think it is a problem.
“You would like the national broadcaster to have a rigorous commitment to truth and at least some basic affection for the home team, so to speak.”
Abbott went on to call Snowden a “traitor”, saying the ABC “seemed to delight” in publishing his information:
“And of course, the ABC didn’t just report what he said, they took the lead in advertising what he said. That was a deep concern.”
Abbott reaffirmed his position in a subsequent doorstep, going on to condemn the ABC for working with the Guardian, or as he put it:
“… touting for a left wing British newspaper.”
There were no surprises when the vindictive Abbott left it for his broken former rival Malcolm Turnbull to announce an efficiency review of the ABC a couple of days later. This review has now called for the ABC’s budget to be slashed with some important investigative news programs, such as Lateline, in the firing line. Turnbull has also flagged cutting $200 million from as ABC budget already cut deeply in the May Budget, blatantly breaking a clear election promise.
These terror laws will stop whistleblowers exposing the Government’s undercover operations through the media.
The problem with this is that the Coalition ‒ under Tony Abbott, avowedly “open for business” ‒ is seemingly not above using the security services in an improper way to assist private individuals and corporations. Under the new laws, any whistleblower seeking to expose the security services, for instance, helping an Australian big business on the behest of a cabinet minister looking for a cosy post-parliamentary sinecure will now be shut down and any journalists assisting locked up for a long time.
These security laws, therefore, can be seen as the next stage in the Abbott programme to hamstring the ABC as an effective source of scrutiny of Government activities.
But, even more importantly, they will make Australian journalism generally reluctant to expose the Government’s undercover activities, as this could lead to them being sent to prison for a decade.
Australia’s spy network was again in the spotlight in December last year after Attorney General George Brandis ordered ASIO to raid the Canberra offices and home of barrister Bernard Colleary, a former ACT deputy chief minister, who was representing East Timor against Australia at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague.
This is not democracy. No wonder they don’t want a Federal ICAC.
The Islamic State is a mirage as far as we are concerned here in Australia. It is not an existential threat to us. The grave threat, in truth, is new security laws that stifle freedom of speech, remove privacy protections, gaol journalists and serve, in the end, to limit scrutiny of the Government and its operatives.
Moreover, providing new powers to secret agents, which also provides them with civil and criminal immunity is an outright danger and threat to us as citizens. It makes these shadowy figures immune to prosecution and therefore, effectively, unaccountable for their actions. Under these laws, frankly, spies can kill us and fear no recourse.
Under these laws, there is no-one to watch the watchers. Now that is truly terrifying.
In truth, we probably expect our extreme right wing Government to implement these sorts of outrageous and unwarranted laws; certainly we can see why they are doing so. It is, however, the weak acquiescence by their so-called Opposition that is most criminal part of this affaor.
We know the ALP under Bill Shorten do not want not a cigarette paper between themselves and the Government on immigration and security matters. This is the exact small target strategy using so brilliantly and effectively by former Opposition leader Kim Beazley during such events as the Tampa Affair and Children Overboard.
However, politicians who unnecessarily sacrifice the rights of the people in the interests of popularity and power show themselves up as unsuitable for high office.
By supporting these so-called “anti-terror” laws ‒ which have nothing to do with preventing terrorism ‒ the ALP, under their current milquetoast leader, have followed the Coalition so far to the right, they are no longer truly a progressive Opposition.
And now more than ever, as the Government shuts down scrutiny and proposes gaoling journalists, Australia needs a progressive Opposition
Spy laws passed in Senate: ASIO given new powers
Australia has no specific laws that protect privacy, so innocent people who may be monitored have “very little by way of redress in legal terms”.
The Palmer United Party managed to attach an amendment that means anyone who publicly names an ASIO agent could be jailed for up to a decade, which is a 10-time increase in the existing maximum penalty.
“Everybody condemns what (terror group) ISIL is doing, it’s horrendous, it’s barbaric, but we do not want to see the fabric of our own society here in Australia torn apart.”
Mohammed Haneef sues ex-immigration minister Kevin Andrews for defamation
|Born||29 September 1979
|Occupation||Doctor of Medicine|
|Known for||Accused of terrorism, and subsequent detention|
|Parents||Shami Khaleel (father)|
Haneef was arrested on 2 July 2007 at Brisbane Airport, Brisbane, Australia on suspicion of terror-related activities. He is the second cousin once removed of Kafeel Ahmed and Sabeel Ahmed, the operatives in the 2007 Glasgow International Airport attack. Haneef’s ensuing detention became the longest without charge in recent Australian history, which caused great controversy in Australia and India.
Haneef was released when the Director of Public Prosecutions withdrew its charge on 27 July 2007, whereby his passport was returned and he departed Australia voluntarily on 29 July 2007. Hannef’s visa cancellation was overturned by the Federal Court on 21 August 2007, with the decision being reiterated by the full bench of the court on 21 December 2007, resulting in Haneef having his Australian visa returned.
In December 2010, Haneef returned to Australia to seek damages for loss of income, interruption of his professional work, and emotional distress. He was awarded compensation from the Australian government. The amount of compensation awarded was not disclosed, but was described by sources as “substantial”.
2007 Deja Vous
Would airport security stop the ex Archbishop of Sydney George Pell’s personal assistant for two hours in an enclosed room and refuse to tell him what was happenning or that of the Anglican Archbishop? I don’t think so
The Australian National Imams Council expressed anger that one of its most senior members, an assistant to the Grand Mufti of Australia Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamed, was pulled up at Sydney airport on Thursday on the way to the Haj, a religious pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.
The Imam, who met Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Attorney-General George Brandis recently, was stopped at the boarding gate, stripped of his mobile phone and iPad and kept in a room for two hours without explanation, the general manager of ANIC Samir Bennegadi said.
Mr Bennegadi said the Imam was treated in an unprofessional manner and he wondered, if this could happen to one of the most senior Imams in Australia, what could happen to the rest of the Muslim population when, “especially during this time, the Haj, we have hundreds of people leaving Australia every day”.
Anti-Muslim sentiment has been felt around the country and people are reporting graffiti on mosques and attacks on homes. Threatening letters have been sent to businesses, bookshops and religious leaders with handwritten messages such as “we will fight you … terror for terror … blood for blood and … bomb for bomb”.
Cars, and houses have been vandalised women threatened but true to form the man in the fruit salad uniform
NSW Police Superintendent Mark Walton said
officers would not “stand guard” outside mosques that received bomb threats, purportedly from the Australian Defence League.
He said that, other than the letter from the league, there were no credible threats to security being investigated during Operation Hammerhead, a NSW operation to increase police visibility that was launched after terrorism raids on Thursday.Despite a car damaged with offensive comments and women threatened to be set alight.
Passenger ejected from flight over notebook doodles
A Melbourne man was hauled off a Tiger Airways flight by federal police on Saturday after claims he was seen doodling and writing sentences in a notebook satirising the current terrorism threat.
“The irony is I was writing a sentence about the absurdity of the fearmongering when we live in such a happy country of ice-cream and beaches and fluffy things,” he said.
Other doodles include a sketch of a chandelier – Mr Buckworth is an interior designer – and the play on words: “Terrorismadeup.” In a cartoon of a child clutching his head, Mr Buckworth wrote in a thought bubble: “Tyrannosaurus Rex. Terodactyl. Tarantula. Terrorist.” The interior designer has now been blacklisted by the airways. Don’t fly Tiger!!!
Detention orders obtained before anti-terrorism raids were carried out
This may be the first time that Australian anti-terrorism powers have been used in detention of suspects without charge
A spokesman for the Australian Lawyers Alliance, Greg Barns, said Australia’s anti-terrorism laws had draconian provisions that allowed people to be detained without charge.
“The AFP and the government have been very happy to feed the media sensational claims, which are simply claims at this point.
“They need now to be accountable to be able to care for the people they are holding.
“The conditions under which people can be detained are pretty outrageous. They don’t get access to lawyers like a traditional suspect. It’s basically psychological pressure they’re put under,” he said.
Asio torture warning: fears new powers will allow suspects to be harmed
Senator says he has legal advice legislation will allow Asio to inflict physical and psychological harm on terrorism suspects
A NSW senator, David Leyonhjelm, said he had received legal advice that the national security legislation amendment bill would allow intelligence officials to inflict physical and psychological harm on terrorism suspects.
Ten weeks dry: water is still a privilege, not a right, in Indigenous Australia
The Utopia homelands was once one of the healthiest Indigenous communities. Now it’s plagued by scabies because of water shortages. And that’s just the beginning
Two weeks ago, reports emerged that the Utopia Homelands, a Northern Territory Indigenous community put in the spotlight by John Pilger’s recent film, was suffering acute water shortages after a bore at Amengernternenh collapsed during council maintenance works. The Urapuntja health service and several communities have had little to no access to water and sanitation for 10 whole weeks. Fifty kids have no drinking water at their school.
Australia is a wealthy country and the idea of entire communities not having proper access to clean water is unthinkable – even with the droughts we experience. That water is still considered to be a privilege and not a right for some Aboriginal communities speaks volumes about how little this country has progressed when it comes to addressing Indigenous disadvantage.
Tony Abbott in Arnhem Land: a display of farce and cynicism
Australia’s prime minister took his government and the media to the NT to better understand the needs of Indigenous Australians. We’re already awash with that knowledge
There are times when farce and living caricature almost consume the cynicism and mendacity in the daily life of Australia’s rulers. Across the front pages is a photograph of a resolute Tony Abbott with Indigenous children in Arnhem Land. “Domestic policy one day,” says the caption, “focus on war the next.”
Reminiscent of a vintage anthropologist, the prime minister grasps the head of an Indigenous child trying to shake his hand. He beams, as if incredulous at the success of his twin stunts: “running the nation” from a bushland tent on the Gove Peninsula while “taking the nation to war”. Like any “reality” show, he is surrounded by cameras and manic attendants, who alert the nation to his principled and decisive acts.
But wait; the leader of all Australians must fly south to farewell the SAS, off on its latest heroic mission since its triumph in the civilian bloodfest of Afghanistan. “Pursuing sheer evil” sounds familiar. Of course, an historic mercenary role is unmentionable, this time backing the latest US installed sectarian regime in Baghdad and re-branded ex-Kurdish “terrorists”, now guarding Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Marathon Oil, Hunt Oil et al.
No parliamentary debate is allowed; no fabricated invitation from foreigners in distress is necessary, as it was in Vietnam. Speed is the essence. What with US intelligence insisting there is no threat from Islamic State to the US and presumably Australia, truth may deter the mission if time is lost. If yesterday’s police and media show of “anti-terror” arrests in “the plot against Sydney” fails to arouse the suspicions of the nation, nothing will. That the unpopular Abbott’s various wars are likely to be self-fulfilling, making Australians less safe, ought to be in the headlines, too. Remember the blowback from Blair’s wars.
But what of the beheadings? During the 21 months between James Foley’s abduction and his beheading, 113 people were reportedly beheaded by Saudi Arabia, one of Barack Obama’s and Abbott’s closest allies in their current “moral” and “idealistic” enterprise. Indeed, Abbott’s war will no doubt rate a plaque in the Australian War Memorial alongside all the other colonial invasions acknowledged in that great emporium of white nationalism – except, of course, the colonial invasion of Australia during which the beheading of the Indigenous Australian defenders was not considered sheer evil.
This returns us to the show in Arnhem Land. Abbott says the reason he and the media are camped there is that he can consult with Indigenous “leaders” and “gain a better understanding of the needs of people living and working in these areas”.
Australia is awash with knowledge of the “needs” of its First Peoples. Every week, it seems, yet another study adds to the torrent of information about the imposed impoverishment of and vicious discrimination against Indigenous people: apartheid in all but name. The facts, which can no longer be spun, ought to be engraved in the national consciousness, if not the prime minister’s. Australia has a rate of Indigenous incarceration higher than that of apartheid South Africa; deaths in custody occur as if to a terrible drumbeat; preventable Dickensian diseases are rampant, including among those who live in the midst of a mining boom that has made profits of a billion dollars a week. Rheumatic heart disease kills Indigenous people in their 30s and 40s, and their children go deaf and suffer trachoma, which causes blindness.
When, as shadow Indigenous health minister in 2009, Abbott was reminded by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Indigenous people that the Howard government’s fraudulent “intervention” was racist, he told Professor James Anaya to “get a life” and “stop listening to the old victim brigade”. The distinguished Anaya had just been to Utopia, a vast region in the Northern Territory, where I filmed the evidence of the racism and forced deprivation that had so shocked him and millions of viewers around the world. “Malnutrition”, a GP in central Australia told me, “is common.”
Today, as Abbott poses for the camera with children in Arnhem Land, the children of Utopia are being denied access to safe and clean drinking water. For 10 weeks, communities have had no running water. A new bore would cost just $35,000. Scabies and more trachoma are the result. (For perspective, consider that Labor’s last Indigenous Affairs Minister, Jenny Macklin, spent $331,144 refurbishing her office in Canberra).
In 2012, Olga Havnen, a senior Northern Territory government official, revealed that more than $80m was spent on the surveillance of families and the removal of children compared with just $500,000 on supporting the same impoverished families. Her warning of a second Stolen Generation led to her sacking. This week in Sydney, Amnesty and a group known as Grandmothers Against Removals presented further evidence that the number of Indigenous children being taken from their families, often violently, was greater than at any time in Australia’s colonial history.
Will Abbott, self-proclaimed friend of Indigenous people, step in and defend these families? On the contrary, in his May budget, Abbott cut $534m from the “needs” of Indigenous people over the next five years, a quarter of which was for health provision. Far from being an Indigenous friend, Abbott’s government is continuing the theft of Indigenous land with a confidence trick called “99-year leases”. In return for surrendering their country – the essence of Aboriginality – communities will receive morsels of rent, which the government will take from Indigenous mining royalties. Perhaps only in Australia can such deceit masquerade as policy.
Similarly, Abbott appears to be supporting constitutional reform that will “recognise” Indigenous people in a proposed referendum. The “Recognise” campaign consists of familiar gestures and tokenism, promoted by a PR campaign “around which the nation can rally”, according to the Sydney Morning Herald – meaning the majority, or those who care, can feel they are doing something while doing nothing.
During all the years I have been reporting and filming Indigenous Australia, one “need” has struck me as paramount. A treaty. By that I mean an effective Indigenous bill of rights: land rights, resources rights, health rights, education rights, housing rights, and more. None of the “advances” of recent years, such as Native Title, has delivered the rights and services most Australians take for granted.
As Arrente/Amatjere leader Rosalie Kunoth-Monks says: “We never ceded ownership of this land. This remains our land, and we need to negotiate a lawful treaty with those who seized our land.” A great many if not most Indigenous Australians agree with her; and a campaign for a treaty – all but ignored by the media – is growing fast, especially among the savvy Indigenous young unrepresented by co-opted “leaders” who tell white society what it wants to hear.
That Australia has a prime minister who described this country as “unsettled” until the British came indicates the urgency of true reform – the end of paternalism and the enactment of a treaty negotiated between equals. For until we, who came later, give back to the first Australians their nationhood, we can never claim our own.
Live blog: Hundreds of police mount anti-terrorism raids in Sydney and Brisbane
Police have raided dozens of homes in Sydney and Brisbane as part of the largest counter-terrorism operation in Australian history.
The joint operation between local police, the Australian Federal Police and ASIO involves hundreds of officers and at least a dozen people have been arrested in Sydney.
Similar raids took place in Brisbane but police said it was too early to say if anyone had been arrested.
Keep up to date with the latest developments on our live blog.
ASIO and hundreds of police raid Sydney and Brisbane homes in biggest counter-terrorism raid in Australia’s history
ASIO and hundreds of police raid Sydney and Brisbane homes in biggest counter-terrorism raid in Australia’s history
- The Daily Telegraph
- September 18, 2014
ASIO and counter terrorism police have swooped on homes across Brisbane’s south and in Sydney this morning in what is believed to be the largest anti-terrorism bust in the nation’s history.
Several arrests have been made in the secret pre-dawn raids in Sydney but the Courier Mail understands there have been no arrests in Brisbane thus far.
Hundreds of police executed search warrants in Logan, Underwood and Mt Gravatt East along with the Sydney suburbs of Beecroft, Bellavista, Guildford, Merrylands, Northmead, Wentworthville, Marsfield, Westmead, Castle Hill, Revesby, Bass Hill and Regents Park.
The raid is believed to have been mounted following months of surveillance of people linked to the terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
The Courier Mail has learned that an estimated 600 officers from the Australian Federal Police, state counter terrorism units and ASIO launched the pre-emptive strike in the early hours of this morning.
The raids and arrests are believed to have been based on the execution of multiple ASIO and AFP warrants.
It is believed that dozens of suspects have been netted, with links to a Brisbane man who was recently arrested on suspected terrorism related charges.
It is believed that a terrorist network had been planning to carry out a series of attacks in Australia.
Last week, Brisbane man Omar Succarieh, 31, was arrested and charged with terrorism-related offences following a series of raids.
He’s accused of fundraising for Syria-based extremist group Jabhat al-Nusra and helping another man, Agim Kruezi, obtain funds to fight for a terror organisation overseas.
Succarieh, who is due to apply for bail in court on Thursday, is believed to be the brother of Ahmed Succarieh, who reportedly became Australia’s first suicide bomber in Syria last year.
Logan man Kruezi, 22, has alleged links to the Islamic State group.
The raid follows the lifting of the national security alert level from medium to high last Friday by the outgoing director general of ASIO David Irvine.
It is believed the size of the raid eclipsed that of Operation Pendennis in 2005 when several hundred ASIO, AFP and NSW police arrested 13 men across Melbourne and the Sydney suburb of Bankstown, who had been planning bomb attacks in both capitals.
In Brisbane, a double story house on Creek Road, Mount Gravatt East, was among the properties raided.
One neighbour said he had lived near the family, who he described as “Middle Eastern” for more than 20 years but had rarely communicated with them.
The man said he had only heard dogs barking during the morning raid.
A number of Australian Federal Police officers remain at the address.
It has not yet been confirmed whether any arrests have been made.
An AFP spokesperson said further updates would be provided later on Thursday.
Senior government ministers were unable to shed more light on the raids, but praised the work of authorities.
“I note the security agencies, the Police, ASIO are working hard to ensure that we are safe,” Coalition frontbencher Malcolm Turnbull told ABC radio this morning.
“Our security is the consequence of continued vigilance and hard work on the part of the security agencies.
“There is no cause for being complacent about security.
“There are people, regrettably some of them in our midst, that don’t have the nation’s best interest at heart.”
Speaking ahead of this weekend’s G20 Finance Minister’s meeting in Cairns, Joe Hockey said he had confidence in the security measures in place.
“Everyone needs to make sure that with an increased threat level associated with potential terrorist attacks in Australia we have all the necessary precautions taken for both the G20 here in Cairns and also in Brisbane,” the Treasurer told Sunrise.
“But, I am very confident that all bases are covered.
“We have put a lot of effort into this for a long period of time.”
There are about 60 Australians believed to be fighting in Iraq and Syria with groups such as Islamic State, while another 100 are suspected of providing support from Australia.
Originally published as Hundreds of police in terror raids
With Prime Minister Tony Abbott plunging Australia back into another war in the Middle East, John Pilger argues that the attack on Gaza poses a wider threat to us all, fuelled by a complicit media.
SAID THE VISIONARY Edward Said:
“THERE IS a taboo on telling the truth about Palestine and the great destructive force behind Israel. Only when this truth is out can any of us be free.”
Why do we march against the Abbott Government? Admittedly marching will not change the government or the government’s ideology, but it will help to raise awareness of important issues and get people thinking.
I had seen the media bias and I had seen the damage this bias had caused; both at a personal level and towards our national psyche. I knew that we could never rely on the media to support our cause. Newscorp has 70% control of our MSM print distribution. It’s as if we are Foxtel controlled. Even when 100,000 march the MSM ignore the fact. Strange that it goes unnoticed.
This a great country no doubt but it does have some great inequalities and injustices. March Australia is not aligned with any political party, its grassroots and calling for decency, transparency and accountability in government.
What happened to understanding and education on issues, instead of judgement and fear? It is mind-boggling to have an election based around slogans ‘stop the boats’ and ‘axe the tax’ and now ‘terror alert’. It really gives us sense of an Orwellian world more so when $650 mill is to be directed at ‘national security’ and the ADF budget is increased while welfare is to be axed. $650mill ‘to keep us safe’ . It’s a very ominous sound bite if you ask who is the ‘us’,’ and from ‘whom’ employing increased surveillance,hardware and policing will lead to arrests just to substantiate these decisions.
Are Australian’s really so concerned about a small amount of asylum seekers that wouldn’t even fill a small stadium ? Especially since most asylum seekers come by plane? Do we ever hear ‘stop the planes’? The majority of boat people are found to be genuine refugees. It even says so on the parliamentary website. Why pander to people’s fear and ignorance for cynical political gain. It’s What about ‘stop the ignorance’ and ‘stop the fear mongering’ ‘attend the issue’? Using words like ‘leaners’ and ‘illegals’ ‘radical’ does nothing to help people understand the situation. Why not tell people that ‘it is not illegal to seek asylum,in Australia whether by boat, plane or any other.
Labeling people as ‘leaners’ creates unnecessary stigma and actually demoralises people. Particularly when the majority don’t want to be on welfare. 15% youth unemployment isn’t solved by heavy-handed supervision it’s about creating jobs and opportunity. Youth radicalization comes with demoralization of people who need to be energized and inspired by hope and opportunity.
It’s why 100,000 March for Australia