Nothing to see here…

1) Writing in The Age (May 8, 2006), Tom Allard reports that ‘Changes urged for terror laws’: “A HIGH-POWERED committee appointed by the Federal Government has recommended that Attorney-General [Montgomery Burns] be stripped of his power to determine which groups constitute a terrorist organisation.” In addition to recommending that Burns be stripped of his power to unilaterally proscribe an organisation, “The committee’s report also advocates recasting the “association” provisions in the anti-terrorism laws, since these could send innocent people to prison. Under the provisions, a formal or informal member of a group deemed to be a terrorist organisation faces 10 years’ jail, even if he or she was unaware of any terrorist act being planned.”

2) Former NSW Labor Premier (1976 — 1986) ‘Nifty’ Nev (Neville Wran) and former PM and Federal Treasurer Paul Keating have weighed in on the subject of the Government’s terroristic laws, declaring their “utter contempt for the Liberal Party” at the launch of a new book, The Wran Era. Portraying himself as a champion of the rights of “ordinary people”, Keating also took the opportunity to claim responsibility for the supposedly healthy state of the Australian economy… despite the fact that it’s “ordinary people” who’ve suffered most from the neoliberal re-structuring of the economy that began under his auspices (1983-1996).


3) A US Army officer has identified the ‘terrorist manual’ which alleged terrorist Faheem Khalid Lodhi had in his possession at the time of an ASIO raid on his home in October 2003 as being in reality a US Army Field Manual. (Lodhi, a 36 year old architect, is currently on trial in Sydney, and stands accused of plotting to bomb the national electricity supply system or several Sydney defence sites, and has pleaded not guilty to four terrorism-related charges.)

4) In his 2006 Federal Budget, Peter Costello has declared that if you happen to be an ASIO employee, things are going to go along swimmingly; if, on the other hand, you’re a student, expect to sink, as he announced an additional splurge on ruling class security of

$1.5 billion over five years to 2009-10. This comes on top of the $8.1 billion allocated to new national security initiatives over nine years from 2001-2002. More than half ($801.5 million) will go [towards] increasing staff and technical capabilities at the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO). ASIO’s allocation in this year’s budget has gone up 23 per cent to $227.6 million. Spending on national security is up from $83.8 million in last year’s budget to a whopping $314.2 million. By way of contrast, only $95.5 million over four years will go to increase capital funds for universities through the Capital Development Pool.

(Mike Head, on the other hand, reckons that the 2006 Australian budget is “a blatant appeal to the rich”.)

5) In New Matilda, Kirk McKenzie writes that, notwithstanding the recommendations of the Government’s own review panel, “the Federal Attorney-General [Montgomery Burns] is at it again”:

…moving to extend the life of ASIO’s post-9/11 powers to compulsorily question and detain ‘non-suspects.’ In March 2002, amid the heat and paranoia of the post-9/11 period, the Howard Government introduced a Bill into Parliament that proposed giving ASIO the power to compulsorily question persons and — if necessary — detain them for that purpose, in relation to terrorism offences. Originally, the Bill allowed incommunicado detention without charge for 48 hours, but by allowing repeated warrants to be obtained, indefinite detention was possible, without the detainees having access to legal assistance or having a right to silence… [At that time] the Senate insisted on a sunset clause of three years, which ensures it expires in July 2006. However, on 29 March 2006, [Burns] introduced the ASIO Legislation Amendment Bill 2006 — designed to extend the legislation’s life by imposing a new sunset clause of 10 years, meaning it expires in 2016. [Burn]’s second reading speech to the Bill was a casual, cursory, eight-minute gloss on the content as though he is legislating to shift a bus stop.

Opposition ‘Homeland Security’ spokesperson Arch Bevis is also worried by Burns’ proposal; unfortunately, “The government defeated Labor amendments on the sunset clause and more fully informing prescribed authorities before the bill was passed. It now goes to the Senate.”

Where it will almost certainly receive final approval.

6) Following a raid on his home by police and their discovery of a number of explosive devices, forty year old Brisbane teacher John Howard Amundsen has been charged (May 10, 2006) with fraud, declaring that “I don’t have any affiliation to any violent organisation. The explosives are being used in a TV shoot… I’ve also co-operated with the police and helped them locate everything because I don’t want any danger to them or the public.” Amusingly, ‘Lilly Boccalatte, who lives across the street from Amundsen, said the short, balding man lived with his elderly mother and was the sort of man “who mowed his lawn quickly and scurried back inside”.’

7) Finally, right-wing flack Greg Sheridan cheers on ASIO while at the same time taking the opportunity to parade before the Australian public his incomprehension on the subject of (non-state) ‘terrorism’ and the basis of moral and political authority.


Of course, the beginnings of a sensible discourse on “terrorism” require, as Chomsky has pointed out, the expression of some degree of intelligence:

“Terror” is a term that rightly arouses strong emotions and deep concerns. The primary concern should, naturally, be to take measures to alleviate the threat, which has been severe in the past, and will be even more so in the future. To proceed in a serious way, we have to establish some guidelines. Here are a few simple ones:

(1) Facts matter, even if we do not like them.

(2) Elementary moral principles matter, even if they have consequences that we would prefer not to face.

(3) Relative clarity matters. It is pointless to seek a truly precise definition of “terror,” or of any other concept outside of the hard sciences and mathematics, often even there. But we should seek enough clarity at least to distinguish terror from two notions that lie uneasily at its borders: aggression and legitimate resistance.

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2024 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
This entry was posted in State / Politics, War on Terror. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Nothing to see here…

  1. mh says:


    You recently dropped by Melbourne Tea Party. Your comment prompted me to re-enter this infernal internet. No, I love it, I really do.


  2. @ndy says:

    hey mh,


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