81 thoughts on “Monday message board

  1. Can’t help wondering why the COAG summit on security hasn’t excited more comment here.

    In broad terms, I believe that the authority arrogated by the executive branches of our governments, federal and state, are disproportionate and clumsy. Moreover, serious questions can be asked about the bona fides of the motivations for these intrusions into civil rights.

    Terrorism may be unleashed in Australia by two broad means:

    1. By ship or plane originating out of the country. This may be of the WTC variety, spectacular but highly localised. It may be nuclear, chemical or biological. These are by far the most dangerous forms of terrorism. It is unlikely that any Australian resident will have any forewarning of these events. To do so would be stupid on the part of the terrorists. Therefore, powers of detention and interrogation are irrelevant.

    2. Domestic, as in the case of the London bombings. Often these plots may be inspired or organised by people beyond domestic jurisdiction. Again, a WTC-style attack could emanate within Australia. But it is nigh on impossible that a nuclear, and it is exceedingly unlikely that chemical or biological attack of any consequence could originate in Australia. Increased surveillance of potential sources of trouble is justified. However, the effectiveness of surveillance authorities like ASIO may in fact be undermined by giving them the quasi-judicial function of detention. The nature of plots like the London bombings is that the small fish are usually detected first (and in the case of suicide bombers, usually too late). Intelligence agencies are faced with the problem of choosing whether to allow the plot to run until they are confident that they have identified the principles, or to tip their hand by detaining the small fish. Police and policy functions are therefore often at cross-purposes.

    To turn to the bona fides of Executive Government.

    As the “Age” opined in its editorial today, we witness an Iraq-sized credibility gap opening up in the Federal Government’s case:

    “Just two years ago ASIO’s annual report revealed that a small number of people – probably between eight and 10 – had trained overseas with terrorist groups. These people cannot be charged retrospectively under current legislation. Australians are now being asked to accept that hundreds of residents are potential terrorists.”

    1. Why were none of these several hundred potential traitors not detected two years ago? Have they recently decided to consider taking up arms againat their country? If their decision is recent, why did they decide on this course of action?

    2. If they had previously been detected, why were the citizens not informed of their existence at the time in the mandatory way, by means of the Annual Report of ASIO? Are we to believe that these previously unidentified potential terrorists are more dangerous than those acknowledged to have trained in camps overseas?

    3. Has ASIO changed its benchmarks for deciding that an individual represents a security threat? If so, how have these benchmarks been changed? When were these benchmarks changed? Who decided that these benchmarks ought to be changed?

    Executive governments in this country have arrogated judicial functions. These functions have been stripped from judges, whose only function is to administer justice. These functions are now exercised by members of the Executive Government, who have several functions, including getting re-elected and destroying their political enemies. The potential for conflict of priorities is therefore very present. The traditional division of powers is as old as the Magna Carta. It has served us well. Why change it now?

  2. Katz – well argued post.

    However, the mitigating factors (in a nutshell) are that ASIO didn’t have the surveillance powers as established yesterday. Therefore, it’s questionable whether it was ever going to capably monitor the circa 800. In addition, the Fed Gov’t worked with all the states and territories (all ALP govt’s) so in itself there was a political (and policing) priority that this sort of issue-based coalition suggests. Finally, the police (as argued by the Trade Union) require that the rules of operation be clear and precise to protect their members. It would also suggest that under the previous provisions the police did not feel sufficiently confident (in operational terms) to track and ‘hunt down and kill’ potential terrorists.

    At the end of the day, people have more chance of being hit by a bus than being injured or dieing by a terrorist action.

    However, without the Gov’t (fed and state) taking pre-emptive legislative action, could you imagine the typical scapegoat and blaming that would occur after the event – with the usual culprits jumping up and down about Iraq and Australia’s involvement yada yada. Even worse the conspiratorial rubbish that is still mooted re: 9/11 but certain Australian miscreants.

  3. “However, without the Gov’t (fed and state) taking pre-emptive legislative action, could you imagine the typical scapegoat and blaming that would occur after the event”

    Point well-taken. However, from a posterior covering perspective, the necessity to get a judge to issue a warrant constitutes another way to spread the blame.

    If the judge proves to be unco-operative and refuses to issue a warrant, and the worst happens, then the Attorney-General can point to judicial obstruction.

    I blame the fact that white settlement in Australia began with martial law for our infatuation with the power of the executive arm of government. In a profound way, we’ve never got over being a gaol.

  4. What the…:

    Yobbo wrote: “Count me in with Steve as one of those who’d like to see Hicks shot like a dog.”


    “I think Hick’s chances of living a long life in Australia are very slim indeed.”

    If that isn’t a statement that’d he’d like to take the law into his own hands and kill Hicks what was his meaning?

    These comments were sandwiched either side of his assertion that he and Steve were part of “the majority”.

  5. Yes, Ian, you should probably report me to ASIO. I’m sitting at home as we speak stroking my gun and waiting for Hicks to come back.

    Wanting to see something happen and taking the law in your own hands are two different things, but it’s safe to say that if Hicks is the target of some vigilante justice I won’t be shedding any tears for him, and neither will many others.

    And I never said I was part of the majority, SJ was the one who claimed that: “I think what most of us want to see, Steve at the pub, is an actual trial with actual evidence.”

    I was simply pointing out that the people on this site, by and large, are not part of any majority in Australia as can be deduced by the results of the last two elections. It’s safe to say there aren’t many Howard voters here.

  6. And yes I think that conservative voters are far less likely to support a criminal trial for Hicks. The right to criminal trial has not historically been extended to traitors who fought against their countrymen, and conservatives are usually in favour of the status quo, am I right?

  7. “The right to criminal trial has not historically been extended to traitors who fought against their countrymen”

    This is so obviously false, I think you must mean something else. Why do we have a crime of treason if not so that people can be (and have been) tried for it?

    The Eureka trials in which all defendants were acquitted, though they had indeed fought against their countrymen, are the most important Australian example.

    Are you suggesting that execution without trial would have been appropriate?

    Would you like to try again on this one?

  8. No need to worry Joe2, as a hothouse flower you can just sit at home & enjoy modern life while those of your neighbors with a bit more fortitude and who are prepared to roll up their sleeves & have a go, are out building or defending society so you can enjoy it.

  9. Hehe, Terje, Yobbo & I live either side of Joe2. We all have adjoining “garden sheds” which are really one big den inside. We have the greatest of times playing darts, pool, phoning up risque 1900 numbers, telling jokes, drinking etc. Although we do have some real ding dong arguments over the relative merits of XXXX, Tooheys or Resch’s.

  10. I’m quite happy not to be your neighbor, Joe. Where I come from, my neighbours would be quite happy to defend themselves and their friends from people who are obviously trying to kill them without asking the United Nations or Greenpeace for permission first.

    You’d be the kind of person who’d stand by quietly whining, waiting for the police to arrive while home invaders raped and murdered your family. I’d rather not live alongside such pathetic people.

    The sympathy for David Hicks amongst the Australian left is just a case of collective Stockholm syndrome. Can’t you find some other cause that doesn’t involve prostrating yourself before those who’d like to see you dead?

    It’s kind of pathetic that you’d sell out your own civilisation to score points against a political opponent.

  11. I haven’t been following the Hicks case as closely as I should have, but Yobbo and Steve are obviously on top of the whole thing, so maybe they could advise what the charges are against Hicks, and what is the evidence that he’s guilty as charged.

    All I know with any reasonable certainty is that he has been photographed holding a weapon (apparently when fighting for the ‘good guys” in Bosnia) and that he went to Afghanistan to fight for the Taliban against their domestic opponents.

    I’d also be interested to hear your thoughts on the Habib case. The government made a lot of noise about taking him to court to stop him being paid for TV interviews, but did nothing. On the face of it, that suggests that they don’t have a case against him, even on the balance of probabilities. Yet Yobbo presumably thinks vigilante justice would be appropriate here.

  12. “sell out your own civilisation”

    Now, let’s just work out what bits of our civilisation we’re prepared to sell out. Surely not the rule of law, magna carta rights of habeas corpus, procedural fairness, prohibition on torture… oh, apparently they’re non-core elements of our civilisation, although come to think of it they were the main issue in the manifesto of the founding fathers of the United States as set out in the Declaration of Independence.

    It doesn’t matter who Hicks is, what he thinks or what Yobbo imagines he’s done. The point about the rights that are indeed central to our civilisation is that they have to be applied to unpopular people who are accused of heinous acts, not just to law-abiding members of John Howard’s mainstream. The principle is we don’t lock people up for years on end without ever testing the evidence in public and hearing the accused’s defence. This was also, it might be recalled, a central issue in the British Civil War and the framing of the 1689 Bill of Rights – the abolition of the King’s Court of Star Chamber.

    So what is ‘our civilisation’? Principles for which our ancestors have fought and died, or being relaxed and comfortable consumers? We know where Yobbo stands – with Charles I and George III, I’m afraid. Me, I’m with the American revolutionaries and the Roundheads, and against arbitrary tyranny. That’s the civilisation I’d be prepared to fight for.

  13. I apologise if my use of the word ‘idiot’ was the offending word.


    Of course no one on this blog really knows anything material about the hicks case. And if they do, they will not be permitted to prove it.

    It’s like debating the new anti-terrorism legislation by arguing the principles but not the actual provisions which none of us have seen. That’s a fine debate to have and should always be had but it cannot say anything directly about the new laws themselves.

    So we are just talking about our personal impressions and our conclusions based on those impressions.

    For my part, I found it impossible to believe that a normal aussie would think of travelling overseas to join a violent foreign activity that had absolutely nothing to do with him

    – If it did have something to do with him, then presumbly he is no normal aussie

    Then i found it impossible to believe he was apprehended without trial

    – Just because he might not be a normal aussie doesn’t mean he’s not a person deserving mercy and equality before the law, particularly in the land of the free and the brave

    Then I found it impossible to believe that after all this time Hick’s counsel was unaware his mother was British.

    – how competent is his poor counsel in establishing material facts surrounding the case?

    Then i found it impossible to believe that he would be a la carte (/ir) about his nationality, is he an aussie or not?

    – Since when was a healthy dislike of our government anything but a normal aussie attitude? and if he wasnt abandoning his nationality for that reason what had the rest of us done to him? And if it wasnt them and it wasnt us what was it? How could being trapped in a foreign jail for years make you want to emigrate FROM australia? Wouldnt it make you come screaming back?

    Which took me back to my first point of disbelief.

  14. What the says
    ‘found it impossible to believe that a normal aussie would think of travelling overseas to join a violent foreign activity that had absolutely nothing to do with him ‘

    You know I agree with you mate. Which makes me wonder how come good old Oz has been sending young men and women to travel overseas to join violent foreign activities that have had absolutley nothing to do with them since, oh about the 1850s. And I guess those Aussie adventurers working for security firms in Iraq are different because, well because we are the good guys and the Iraqis who don’t like us are the bad guys I guess.

    And I suppose next time some little old aussie battler employee of a mining company for example, is accused of some rather exuberant approaches to law and order in some hapless third world hell hole, we will just have to conclude that the hell hole government is perfectly justifcied in treating said aussie battler in exactly the same way. What do you reckon?

  15. “stopthe” I didn’t understand your 3rd para, perhaps i haven’t heard about the example you allude to. If you travel OS without diplomatic intervention you largely have to take what comes from foreign laws and penalties even if you dont like it.

    Civilian Australians in Iraq are in a different situation to Hicks in Afghanistan because Australia has a direct association right now with Iraq -we sadly helped invade it. it is not a violent foreign activity which we have nothing to do with. Its a violent foreign activity Australia is involved in.

    But its not ‘you’ or ‘me’ or ‘adventurers’ that are involved in Iraq, its us, Australia, the nation. Unlike Hicks who shot off as a private individual to an obscure part of the world to involve himself in his private war in which Australia had no involvement. I think there is a distinction.

    as you know there was no commonwealth of australia in the 1850s we were part of England and thus involved in England’s wars so i am not sure what you meant there.

  16. “Wanting to see something happen and taking the law in your own hands are two different things,”

    Yes and being a patrhetic internet poseur shooting one’s mouth off in an attempt to sound tough is another thing again.

  17. What the: there are a decent number of Australians working around the wrold as mercenaries. Most of waht I’ve reade about Hicks suggests he was probably one of them.

  18. Have been sitting in the backyard reading D.H. Lawrence’ book “Kangaroo”. Doesn’t history repeat itself?

    Heard yobbo and steve at the pub arking up the barbie near the big shed. Doubt it will be a quiet night.

    Wish i had not been so personal, in a small comment on the web. Still cannot understand why patriots like that would not be drinking Coopers. The only locally owned brew.

  19. Ian G, I think you’re right about that, and that quite a few belonged to sandline and have now dispersed since it closed its operations. S’s own website still argues the case today for private militias, but I dont just like private armies much like I don’t want private police forces. [before others buy in here – obviously I dont want any armies at all but here we are discussing the world as it is]

    Who would you speculate was paying hicks for his services at the time?

  20. Joe2: Yobbo & I are arc-ing up (welding term I always believed) over his support for *ugh* Wests Tigers. Coopers may not be locally owned much longer. The directors have not been entirely straight with the shareholders (to put it mildly). This will have implications. However the litigation which is commencing now over the whole shebang should drag on for a minimum of 2 years & cost a good $20 million or so.

    Nobody here is actually drinking it, due to the high cost compared to XXXX, AND it being “southern-(insert urine related word here for accuracy of vernacular)”

  21. What the – as near as I can work out he was working for the Taliban as a drill instructor.

    Pretty reprehensible behaviour but considering that at the time the Taliban were the government of Afghanistan and were not at war with the US or Australia I don’t see how it qualifies as treason.

  22. “Yes and being a patrhetic internet poseur shooting one’s mouth off in an attempt to sound tough is another thing again.”

    Who’s trying to sound tough? I’m entitled to my opinion, just as you are entitled to yours. Again, I never said I was planning on taking the law into my own hands, merely that I wouldn’t be at all surprised if someone did.

  23. Let’s all hold hands ol’ cobber yobbo.
    Neva tort ya’s was athreat to natnal security,mate.
    Can you turn the vol down.

    Steve just fell over fence.

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