ASIO has just released its Annual Report to Parliament for the (financial) year 2005-06. Dale Mills (Green Left Weakly, November 10, 2006) has courteously provided the public with a brief summary, relaxedly and comfortably titled ‘ASIO steps up surveillance of activists’. Under the rubric of ‘local politically motivated violence'(!), the report refers to ASIO’s role in monitoring protests at last year’s Forbes conference, the disruption of “Australian Defence Force recruitment stalls at universities in Queensland and Victoria” this year, and identifies the upcoming G20 protests in Melbourne (November 18/19) and expected protests at the APEC conference in Sydney next year (September 8/9) as being of particular concern to it. (As well it might, given the APEC conference’s designation as being “the most significant security event ever held in Australia”.)
The bulk of the report, however, goes on (and on and on) about Islamic terrorism, and the measures ASIO is taking to prevents its irruption in Australia.
Also of interest is the fact that while the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) may now be the nineteenth organisation proscribed (December 2005) by ASIO as ‘terrorist’, it’s still got a pretty snazzy website. Decidedly unimpressed by their creative design skills and lack of English, the Attorney-General, Montgomery Burns, nevertheless pronounced the PKK a terrorist group one week after the visit of the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Erdogan, to Australia.
This was, of course, a complete coincidence. Further, the Turkish state has a long history of defending the rights of ethnic Kurds, Carlton is a great football club, and I’ll be voting for Family First next weekend.
In other, um, ‘news’, the report by Ian Carnell, Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, November 29 2005, into Scott Parkin‘s arrest and deportation makes for fun reading; especially in light of the recent decision by a meddling judge to allow him access to documents purporting to demonstrate that his presence in Australia was a ‘threat to national security’. Carnell notes that “it is important that most, if not all, of the substance of security assessments not be put in the public domain”. In more detail, under ‘Methodology’:
18. One of the difficulties of inquiring into intelligence and security matters and reporting outcomes is that much material is, by its nature, very sensitive. The protection of collection methodologies and various sources means that there are appropriately circumstances in which disclosure cannot be made. In balancing security aspects against natural justice considerations, there are circumstances where it has traditionally been accepted that it is in the overall public interest for security considerations to be given precedence. The current situation is one such occasion.
19. While the precepts of natural justice would point to providing Mr Parkin with the details of the security assessment and allowing him to respond and suggest ways in which the evidence and considerations might be tested, security considerations of the kind described above would appear to reasonably preclude this. Even to attempt to allude in general terms to the elements of the security assessment would be problematic in this way.
20. I appreciate that Mr Parkin and others with doubts about his treatment will most likely find this vexing, but it is inevitable given the nature of the matter being examined.
Actually Ian, it’s not ‘inevitable’. But such an attitude on the part of an office which is ostensibly committed to overseeing ASIO’s operations does suggest that, in the contemporary political climate, intelligence agencies really do think that they’re above the law. And, generally speaking, they are. But not always…
- Kent Brockman: Professor @ndy, without knowing precisely what the danger is, would you say it’s time for our viewers to crack each other’s heads open and feast on the goo inside?
Professor @ndy: Yes I would, Kent.