Home > Oz Politics > Now that’s what I call sedition

Now that’s what I call sedition

October 25th, 2005

The aptly named Chas Savage in yesterday’s Age.

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  1. Roberto
    October 25th, 2005 at 09:14 | #1

    Dills like this harm, more than help, any reasoned opposition to the laws when he makes statements like “Instead, I am prompted by a sense of malice and ill-will and seek to create a maximum level of public discontent, disorder and disturbance.”

    Anyway, where would you stop, all liberties are limited in some form eg defamation, racial vilification, EEO laws, homicide yada yada

  2. Katz
    October 25th, 2005 at 09:33 | #2

    Perhaps, Roberto, you are unaware of the fact that Chas Savage wrote a pastiche of Edmund Burke’s “Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol”. Burke criticised the curtailment of British civil rights in pursuance of George Washington and the rest of the Axis of Evil fomenting the American Revolution.

    Here is part of that latter:

    “I confess, Gentlemen, that this appears to me as bad in the principle, and far worse in its consequence, than an universal suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act; and the limiting qualification, instead of taking out the sting, does in my humble opinion sharpen and envenom it to a greater degree. Liberty, if I understand it at all, is a general principle, and the clear right of all the subjects within the realm, or of none. Partial freedom seems to me a most invidious mode of slavery.”

    It says more about apologists of Howard than it does about Edmund Burke when Burke’s ideas are denounced as dangerously radical.

  3. October 25th, 2005 at 09:47 | #3

    Rather unimpressive and full of bile. Bit like the Latham diaries.

  4. Chris O’Neill
    October 25th, 2005 at 10:12 | #4

    I wonder when we’ll see any more vox pop interviews of Young Liberals carrying on about how freedom is more important than anything else. I won’t be holding my breath.

  5. Roberto
    October 25th, 2005 at 10:33 | #5

    Katz, who cares.

    Chaz’s article was worse than silly. By your reference to Burke was Chaz just showing off about how well read he is. If he was, good luck to him. But he still said: ““Instead, I am prompted by a sense of malice and ill-will and seek to create a maximum level of public discontent, disorder and disturbance.â€? So are we to take that as a call-to-arms, or a coward hiding behind literary pea-shooters.

  6. October 25th, 2005 at 10:50 | #6

    And if we are to take it as a call to arms – that is to create disorder and disturbance – how does that sit with your position on democracy? is democracy a process that is merely undertaken every few years at the ballot box? or is it instead a rolling debate, action by people and communinties that, from time to time, will run against the government and dear lizzie our sovreign?

  7. wilful
    October 25th, 2005 at 11:22 | #7

    So, does anyone care to actually talk about the proposed ‘sedition’ clauses, or the meaning of Mr Savage’s screed, rather than the form or literary context?

    Is Professor Quiggin seditious, simply by linking to the article?

  8. Katz
    October 25th, 2005 at 11:22 | #8

    Burke asked the Sheriffs of Bristol to calculate how much of their liberty they were prepared to barter away for the possibility (Burke correctly implied the impossibility) of hanging onto North America.

    Burke’s “literary peashooter” eventually spiked the cannons of British imperialist militarism in North America. It was too late to prevent much damage and almost bankrupt the British state. But Britain did survive and British liberties were largely preserved.

    Burke achieved this by persuading Britons to come to their senses.

    Civil libertarians in Australia are asking Australians to calculate how much of their liberties they are prepared to barter away to protect ourselves from a hypothetical threat of terrorist violence, as if there were a necessary trade-off between liberty and security, always remembering that Benjamin Franklin opined that he who sacrifices liberty for security deserves neither liberty nor security.

    Since when was intelligence a sign of cowardice?

  9. October 25th, 2005 at 11:26 | #9

    I’ve started a new blog, called Hate the Queen.

    I urge all Australian to hate the Queen, as the Royal family is contemptible.

    http://hatred-and-contempt.blogspot.com/

    If you want to co-blog email me at mvonsamorzewski via yahoo dotcom

  10. Roberto
    October 25th, 2005 at 11:39 | #10

    Katz wrote: “Burke’s “literary peashooterâ€? eventually spiked the cannons of British imperialist militarism in North America.”

    The Americans rebelled over taxation, not British imperialist militarism. (ps. I don’t think the term existed then, so it was hard for them to have rebelled against a concept that didn’t exist).

  11. Katz
    October 25th, 2005 at 11:53 | #11

    You’re oversimplifying Roberto.

    If you look at the Quartering Act, one of the so-called Intolerable Acts of 1774, you’ll discover a powerful whiff of imperialist militarism.

    Here’s a reference:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quartering_Act

    And in any case, Roberto, the point at issue here isn’t what the Americans were objecting to, it is what the British proposed to do to hang onto America, once American objections took military form.

    That, certainly, is what Edmund Burke was talking about in 1777.

    And to draw the parallel to 2005, Chas Savage is talking about what Howard proposes to do in relation to what terrorists may or may not be intending to do.

    As to the nomenclature, I’m not certain whether “militarist imperialism” was such an anachronistic term in the 1780s.

    Perhaps you might prefer us to use the 1780s terminology in the 2005 context.

    That term used then for what Howard is proposing was: “ministerial tyranny”.

    Has a nice ring, doesn’t it?

  12. Andrew Reynolds
    October 25th, 2005 at 11:56 | #12

    In making the reference to ill-will, Savage is just trying to make sure that he is caught by the Act. If motivated by good will, the comments he is making would not be considered seditious and therefore not caught by the act.
    While I disagree with several of his statements regarding elements of our system of government, I believe that are intended to highlight some of the many problems in the Act and so are a valuable addition to the debate. Yes, he is no Edmund Burke, but few of us are.
    .
    Those who are willing to trade freedom for security deserve neither.

  13. Roberto
    October 25th, 2005 at 12:21 | #13

    Andrew Reynolds Says: “If motivated by good will, the comments he is making would not be considered seditious and therefore not caught by the act.”

    The problem that Chaz has is that the reader is to forced to detemine whether the writer was drenched in goodwill when writing! How ridiculous.

    This could apply to Hitler and Mein Kampf.

  14. October 25th, 2005 at 12:40 | #14

    The Savage article is funny and carefully thought out. He is a good satirist and glad ,”The Age”, published it. You have to wonder,from some of the comments, if humour is an endangered species.

  15. Katz
    October 25th, 2005 at 12:56 | #15

    “The problem that Chaz has is that the reader is to forced to detemine whether the writer was drenched in goodwill when writing! How ridiculous.”

    But Roberto, that is exactly what the “good faith” provision in Howard’s sedition legislation attempts to do. Do you trust the government accurately to determine the tone of any writing? And yes, you’re right. The very thought of Howard’s DPPs playing the role of assessors of satire is ridiculous.

    Refer to Joe2′s most apposite comments above in regard to the humour imbedded in Savage’s pastiche. Now do you get it?

  16. e sciaroni
    October 25th, 2005 at 13:02 | #16

    Thank you for the link.

    Here in America the liberty is being nibbled away without a sound. Our dispirited opposition needs this kind of fire. I do think that there may be some trade off of security for freedom. But as for me…

    “give me liberty or give me death!”

  17. Roberto
    October 25th, 2005 at 13:24 | #17

    Thanks Katz. But the article wasn’t prefaced (at least on the online version) with any disclaimer that this was ‘humour’. Therefore, my first interpretation still stands.

    Second, I’m not infavour, nor necesarily (in principle) opposed to the draft laws re: sedition. I want to work it out for myself, rather than being ‘mugged’ by the usual culprits. I find it interesting that the people so opposed to the these provisions, often are the first to ‘scream and shout’ that the government should be doing so much more on a whole gaggle of socio-economic issues (when governments – and lets be fair public servants – are grossly incompetent to deal with anything!)

    Three, I haven’t lost my sense of humour. (walk this way! waddle waddle).

  18. observa
    October 25th, 2005 at 13:30 | #18

    “Do you trust the government accurately to determine the tone of any writing?”
    No, that’s why we have Opposition Parties and an attack dog media to flog the Govt of the day and their Departments of Perfect Outcomes when they’re not so perfect. ie DIMIA and Solon. Should we completely trust the Courts instead? Not bloody likely, which is why we also rely on the same sunlight here as well.

    Meika, just a word of caution about your hate the queen site. Whilst hating appears to be a favourite pastime for the hard left, you need to include the lesbians too. Otherwise you might be accused of gender discrimination love.

  19. lurch
    October 25th, 2005 at 13:50 | #19

    It appears we may soon have to cry
    “give me sedition or give me death!”

  20. October 25th, 2005 at 13:55 | #20

    Who can sensibly suppose that the world would not be a far better place now if the North Americans had failed in their object after teaching the salutary lesson not to continue the clumsiness that had provoked them? We would now have a wiser British Empire, and no USA with all that brought with it.

  21. observa
    October 25th, 2005 at 14:07 | #21

    Hey Meika, it seems you’re not getting enough exercise
    http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,17028137-29277,00.html

    This is apparently the latest and greatest sort
    http://finance.news.com.au/story/0,10166,17028782-31037,00.html

    No doubt that’ll take your mind off hating queens.

  22. October 25th, 2005 at 14:16 | #22

    “Thanks Katz. But the article wasn’t prefaced (at least on the online version) with any disclaimer that this was ‘humour’. Therefore, my first interpretation still stands.”

    Robertone,

    If I tell you you’re a joke, will you laugh?

    That goes for you too, Observa. A coupla poofter jokes and you’re orgone.

    And the right is funny? I stand corrected.

  23. Katz
    October 25th, 2005 at 15:47 | #23

    Careful Fyodor.

    Those comments smack of cultural elitism (unembarrassedly parading your understanding satire, irony, literary invention, and all).

    You ought to know how uncomfortable the Right feels about issues of inequality.

  24. October 25th, 2005 at 15:53 | #24

    Hmmm … the right seems to have suddenly lost its alleged sense of humour, along with its principles.

  25. October 25th, 2005 at 16:01 | #25

    observa you aint been reading me at catallaxy recently, have you?

  26. October 25th, 2005 at 16:06 | #26

    Further to Obseva’s links – doesn’t “obscene tsunami of spin” remind you of “nattering nabobs of negativism” and other examples of arch alliteration’s awful aid?

  27. October 25th, 2005 at 16:17 | #27

    the take-the-job-or-else stuff is meaningless piffle.

    its like saying to the unemployed you can’t have the dole if you refuse a million US dollars.

    There, that’ll get them off their backsides.

    So observa, offer me a job or a million dollars or be quiet.

  28. Roberto
    October 25th, 2005 at 17:11 | #28

    Fyodor Says: Robertone, If I tell you you’re a joke, will you laugh?

    Sorry pal, would still prefer to laugh at you!

  29. observa
    October 25th, 2005 at 19:59 | #29

    If you find the first million too hard Meika, do what most business types do. Give it up and go for your second.

  30. Terje Petersen
    October 26th, 2005 at 06:10 | #30

    If it helps I am prepared to burn a few flags.

    I am concerned about the direction we are going in with these anti-terror laws. Why is there no viable opposition party?

  31. Hal9000
    October 26th, 2005 at 08:39 | #31

    Anyone who thinks anti-sedition powers won’t be abused needs to have a look at how they have been abused in Australian history. Prime Minister Hughes used them to send in the army to prevent the printing of Queensland parliamentary debates, on account of arguments therein urging a ‘no’ vote in the then upcoming referendum on conscription.

    Savage’s article was not in my view primarily satirical, it was merely designed to illustrate precisely the kind of free speech to be criminalised by the legislation. Roberto reckons Savage is a dill for pointing out that urging disaffection with the Queen is to be criminalised. Seems to me he needs to argue the case why it needs to be and what public benefit the creation of such an offence will bring. Meanwhile, name-calling in the absence of argument needs to be fingered for the cheap and cowardly debating trick it is.

    In my view what is truly horrifying about the legislation, though, isn’t the revival of the arcane crime of sedition, it’s the draconian secrecy provisions about the use of detention and control powers. Truly we are creating a secret police when it’s an offence to mention the mere fact that someone has been locked up – potentially indefinitely. From whom are such provisions meant to protect us – certainly not terrorists, as fellow terrorists would be in the know about a colleague being nabbed. And remember – the people we’re handing these powers to are the same malicious Inspector Clouseau types who brought us the WMD about which we had absolute certainty and no room for doubt of any kind. Their political masters brought us kids overboard. Is it coincidental that they are bringing in Peter Reith-style industrial relations, with balaclava-clad thugs and attack dogs ‘protected by law’ at the same time as these secret police provisions? The sedition definition is so broad as to capture many forms of industrial and political action. Does anyone seriously suggest we should trust Howard and Ruddock to act in good faith during the looming major industrial confrontations, when they can have anyone secretly disappeared at a whim?

  32. October 26th, 2005 at 08:48 | #32

    Great comeback, Robertone. You’re right, Katz, the right IS funny.

  33. Katz
    October 26th, 2005 at 09:09 | #33

    You’re right Terje, the anti-terrorist laws, as proposed, threaten executive tyranny.

    And if the Queensland Solicitor-General thinks that the Commonwealth Constitution affords any protection through purported separation of judicial and executive powers provisions, he’s dreaming. That’s why we need a proper Bill of Rights.

    Greg Craven is also dreaming. This is what he said on the 7.30 Report last night: “Because it would effectively be a challenge based on chapter 3 of the Constitution that there had been a breach of the basic judicial suppositions of that chapter. The judges could not be required to act in a way that was incompatible with their office as judges and one has to remember that this is in fact a High Court; that if it is obsessed with anything, it’s obsessed with precisely that chapter of the Constitution – chapter 3 in judicial power.”

    Does he seriously believe that Howard, Ruddock, and the majority of the present bench of the High Court give a tinker’s curse about “basic judicial suppositions” which are nowhere enunciated in Chapter 3 of the Constitution?

    However, there is a narrow beam of light, at least in Victoria. Here is the appropriate section of the Victorian Constitution:

    “86. Power to Judges to award habeas corpus

    “The Court constituted by a Judge may award a writ of habeas corpus for bringing any prisoner detained in any gaol or prison before any Court to be there examined as a witness.”

    It’s up to Victorian judges to use this power to remove persons from Howard’s oubliettes so that the conditions of their incarceration may be examined.

    Hip Hooray for good old Victorian, liberal constituionalism!

  34. lurch
    October 26th, 2005 at 09:24 | #34

    Hal9000 has hit the nail on the head. What a strange coincidence that wide ranging sedition laws are being promulgated at the same time as Dickensian industrial relations legislation will be rubber-stamped by parliament.

  35. Roberto
    October 26th, 2005 at 09:59 | #35

    OK – Fydordill and Katz and Hal et al are right. It’s all one carefully engineered conspiracy to manicle the working classes to the imperialist, capitalist system once and for all. With the conspiracy managed in the shadows by the Illuminati and the Bilderbergers.

  36. observa
    October 26th, 2005 at 12:34 | #36

    Those nasty capitalists in Big Biz coming over all Keynesian on us struggling small biz types http://finance.news.com.au/story/0,10166,17040261-31037,00.html
    The traitorous dogs!

  37. observa
    October 26th, 2005 at 12:35 | #37

    Now that’s what I call sedition.

  38. observa
    October 26th, 2005 at 13:05 | #38

    Streuth I can see where the govt is coming from. When you really look about you there’s sedition everywhere
    http://finance.news.com.au/story/0,10166,17031537-31037,00.html
    Those miserable ingrates. Just wait til I err.. we get my hands on those Workplace Agreements. I’ll give them some warm fuzzy socialism. A Kim Jong Il clause about criticism of the fearless leader, will be first on the agenda. That should keep them happy that I’m no RWDB.

  39. Bruce Bradbury
    October 26th, 2005 at 14:00 | #39

    Are the secrecy provisions workable? If I say “Chas Savage is safe but not able to be contacted just now” won’t you all know what I mean?

  40. October 26th, 2005 at 14:32 | #40

    Libertie, egalitie, fraternatie – all under forocious assault in my homeland at once. So, who exactly is winning the WOT?

  41. observa
    October 26th, 2005 at 16:30 | #41

    Any truth in the rumour that Sheikh Omran is taking an quick trip with 79 like minded punters to the Cairo Cup next Tuesday?

  42. October 27th, 2005 at 08:47 | #42

    The Howard govt’s proposed anti-terrorism/anti-free speech legislation is yet another mind-boggling example of the Coalition’s commitment to free trade.

    Yes. That’s right. Free trade.

    Consider: If the laws are passed, Australians will no longer be able to criticise the government. This will open a whole new market of what I like to call ‘abuse outsourcing’. Australians will be able to pay foreigners to criticise Australia. In turn, as more ‘anti-everything’ legislation is passed, foreigners will call upon Australians to voice dissent about their countries on their behalf. Eventually, a new equilibrium will arise, where those countries with a comparative advantages in muck-throwing will achieve economic dominance as the new century continues.

  43. Roberto
    October 27th, 2005 at 09:09 | #43

    alpaca Says: October 27th, 2005 at 8:47 am “Consider: If the laws are passed, Australians will no longer be able to criticise the government.”

    If that is the case, surely it would have been easier, to have just scrapped elections altogether! Those elections cost a bundle. And while we are at it, just downsize and privatise the Parliament (state and federal). And while they are at it – local government as well. The end result, no government – the ultimate anarchist heaven.

    Imagine the cost savings from no (inefficient and ineffective) political advertising.

  44. October 27th, 2005 at 16:28 | #44

    That’s not “no government”, any more than symmetrical transactions with asymmetrical boundary conditions make a free market. That’s secret government, that’s what that is.

  45. Jill Rush
    October 27th, 2005 at 23:35 | #45

    The trouble is when you have a government which has allowed 9 young Australians to be endangered in Bali, which locks up its own residents, incarcerates children, deports Australian citizens, allows hundreds to drown at sea, then it appears that they want greater rights to treat people badly you have to think that they will.

    The secrecy of its introduction after a briefing from the organisations advising there were weapons of mass destruction mean that reasonable people will understand the satire of Mr Savage. The irony was quite clear but would have been clearer for those who have Asperger’s by labelling the item as Satire -a dark vision of the future.

  46. Paul Norton
    October 28th, 2005 at 10:13 | #46

    Hal9000 wrote:

    “Anyone who thinks anti-sedition powers won’t be abused needs to have a look at how they have been abused in Australian history. Prime Minister Hughes used them to send in the army to prevent the printing of Queensland parliamentary debates, on account of arguments therein urging a ‘no’ vote in the then upcoming referendum on conscription.”

    We don’t even need to go back that far.

    Queensland residents old enough to remember Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Terry Lewis and the Rat Pack and the findings of the Fitzgerald Inquiry won’t need too active an imagination to know what could have been done with the “anti-terror” powers by those gentlemen.

    Likewise for NSW residents old enough to recall the Hilton bombing frame-up by NSW Special Branch and that body’s ecumenical definition of “security threats” to include anyone parked near Trades Hall on the night of a Labour Council meeting, and any truck hire firm which hired out a PA truck for the May Day rally.

    Oh, and Victorians will recall those lovable rogues from ASIS and their memorable counter-terrorism training run in clown masks at the Melbourne Sheraton Hotel in 1983, whilst South Australians will recall Roma Mitchell’s findings on that State’s Special Branch in the late 1970s, and people out west will recall the WA wallopers’ enthusiasm for invoking obscure sections of the Police Act against trade unionists in the Pilbara in 1979.

    Don’t get me started on the imaginative uses to which Forestry Tasmania and Pol Lenin could put such powers, based on a single phone call from Gunns, to deal with pesky greenies.

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