Evolving Thoughts

Evolution, culture, philosophy and chocolate! John Wilkins' continuing struggle to come to terms with impermanence... "Humanus sum, nihil humanum a me alienum puto" - Terence

Monday, October 31, 2005

Security from public debate?

The federal government's refusal to put the text of the proposed new anti-terror bill in the public domain is totally confusing to me. An earlier draft was leaked by the ACT Chief Minister, which allowed for a public debate and a backdown by other state premiers in their support for this shadowy piece of legislation. But the PM and his cronies (yes, I think they are now worthy of that derogatory label) have threatened any state minister who puts what will be, after all, a piece of public legislation in the free and clear public domain with legal action.

Sorry? We are not allowed to see this draft because why? Is it a threat to national security or something? Are we worried terrorists will get legal advice and lobby for a watering down of the terms? Or is somebody aiming to sell copies and make, so to speak, a killing?

I cannot believe that we are putting up with this. It's a crucial act of parliament, for gods' sake. It promises to roll back legal rights of centuries' standing. We ought to be able to see it and have a public debate. But it appears the first time we will see this is when it has been passed. Something is going on, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.

I suspect this is similar to the changeover of the instrumentalities of Prohibition in the States to the drug prohibition agencies, back in the 30s. We are seeing government agencies like ASIO seeking more power and broader empires, and this is a good way for it to happen. Perhaps they were jealous of the totally draconian and arbitrary powers of the American DEA. But it's a power grab, pure and simple.

This is how democracy dies, Princess Amydala; not with thunderous applause, but with bureaucratic maneuvering.