Monday, September 22, 2014

Monday Forum – another what you will

The news of the Australian terrorism raids was breaking as I drove north. It was all very dramatic, with eye witness accounts of helicopters hovering while heavily armed police raided houses. We will have to wait for the court cases (or the absence of them) to know how much truth there is in the whole thing, but certain things made me extremely uncomfortable.

To begin with, the force applied seemed excessive. This judgement may be incorrect, it depends upon the facts, but I don’t like the increasing militarisation of our police forces. It makes me personally uncomfortable to see police kitted out in flack jackets and festooned with weaponry watching for fare evaders at railway stations. I keep wondering if they will use that gear on me. It may be irrational, but I feel threatened.

More importantly, the language used by the Government and the press to describe the raids was, to put it mildly, quite extreme. Again, we have to wait for the facts. It may be that we were dealing with an extreme threat, although that is not clear at this point. The intent to seize and behead a few individuals, while dramatic and unpleasant, does not constitute a threat to national security. It is a criminal matter.

As a small l liberal, the coincidence of the raids with the Government’s plans to introduce legislation giving increased powers to Australia’s security agencies makes me very uncomfortable. I am not suggesting a conspiracy, that the raids were intended to reinforce the need for new powers. Australia is not Nazi Germany, Rather, the coincidence reflects locked in views in which the response to a threat leads to an automatic reaction that we must have more powers, must do more. This leads to a disproportionate response that can threaten civil liberties and that, at the extreme, can actually create the very demon that the response was intended to protect us against. 


Anonymous said...

Sometime yesterday (Sunday) an email link to New Matilda's latest popped into my inbox. It was headed something like "More Terrorism Threats Than You Can Poke A Stick At"

It made me laugh, because of the sheer Australian-ness of the wording. That is to say, I assume the "poke a stick at" is Aussie vernacular? (Didn't read the link; but am still wondering about the phrase)


John Stitch said...

Hi Jim - Forgive me but I think that the raids were precisely designed to coincide with the push for more powers for the Police and other agencies. As well the threats to parliament house which has lead to beefed up security, or should I say a further control on anyone wishing to visit their elected representatives. And of course just in case we don't get it the terror alert level was raised from medium to high. Are we now supposed to do something differently behave in a different manner?

And lets not forget our prime minister with his hand up in Obama's class room shouting "me too sir, I'll go, choose me". So we have this situation where we are at the forefront of making ourselves a target and having our liberties (what's left of them) further eroded by this right wing boof head and his mates whilst the opposition sits meekly by and gauges the political pros and cons of supporting him.

And now the government wants to tell us what countries we can visit. And what exactly is the purpose of the extra airport security we are paying for. It reminds me of the cold war where successive presidents ramped up military spending, created a scenario of potential death and destruction, kept the populous living on a knife edge of paranoia to justify the arms race.

At least the Americans have a constitution to protect their basic rights. What have we got, Tony Abbot. It's as if the Federal government is trying to out do Queensland premier Campbell Newman, where already the right of free association has gone.

My prediction is that the next move will be on the Press. There will be reporting restrictions on actions by Police and Agencies. I used to like living in this country, now I am not so sure.

Jim Belshaw said...

I have always assumed that poke a stick at is Australian, kvd. Must look the derivation up.

That's depressing, John. While I disagree to some degree with your point re precisely defined, I am obviously worried about the way all this is dissolving the freedoms we took for granted.

Anonymous said...

John Stitch: there may be a grain of truth in what you say about the hype associated with AFP raids...after all there has been just one arrest. I nevertheless despaired when I read it; as I did when I watched Q&A last night on the ABC.