Many people think a Liberal Opposition serious about winning government in the Australian Capital Territory would be well advised to put as much distance as possible between the Federal Liberal Government and themselves. During years in which they enjoyed electoral success this was the case.
In recent times the local liberals seem to have become cheerleaders for the Federal Government. One wonders if this is out of any desire to earn their pay as local MLA’s, or rather to ingratiate themselves with the folks on the big hill in the hope of being appointed to a cosy sinecure where they can gorge themselves further on the public teat.
In that light, dear reader, I ask you to cast your eye over the squawking of Shadow Attorney-General, Bill Stefaniak.
Shadow Attorney General Bill Stefaniak has questioned why the Chief Minister has posted to his website a ‘Draft-in-Confidence’ copy of the proposed Anti-Terror Bill.
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In the ‘What’s New’ section on the Chief Minister’s personal website (www.chiefminister.act.gov.au) members of the public can easily download the PDF version of the Draft Anti-Terrorism Legislation prepared by the Federal Government.
Mr Stefaniak said the Chief Minister must explain what prompted him to post the draft legislation to his website when it is a confidential document.
As, unlike Bill or his lackeys, this website can use hyperlinks, allow me to point you to the relevant page on the Chief Minister’s site. Furthermore let me also link to our own copy of the Legislation (downloaded from the Chief Minister’s site), just in case something happens to it.
In the orwellian context of TWOT (The War On Terror) already discussed on this site today I wonder at Bill advocating the development of secret law.
God forbid the public should see the laws drafted at their expense, to be debated by their elected representatives, under which they shall have to live.
UPDATED: ABC Online has unusually extensive coverage of this here and here. Kerces has pointed out the Canberra Times coverage. Meanwhile Alan Ramsey in the SMH has explained the fast and loose Senate procedures the Government played to try and silence debate on their measures (an effort stymied by the Chief Minister’s actions). The SMH has extensive coverage of the draft legislation and its release here (and I have to say I’m rather glad to see they’re hosting a copy of the draft as well).
FURTHER UPDATE: The ABC has really pushed the boat out with ‘Tash calling our brave leader the “Hero of the Hour” here and Mr. Howard’s angry reaction here (along with an unprecedented hyperlink to the page on the Chief Minister’s site).
ANOTHER UPDATE: Fairfax is giving a high profile to Michelle Grattan’s analysis of these events.
MONDAY UPDATE: Kerces contributed the following on further developments.
Well, much has happened in a rather short time over our brave leaderâ€™s efforts to promote transparent democracy.
Late Friday afternoon, Jon Stanhope faxed out this press release in which he says both the federal Attorney-General and the Prime Ministerâ€™s office are trying to censor him (this wasnâ€™t picked up in JBâ€™s original story for various reasons).
â€œI find it remarkable that the Commonwealth apparently believes I should, as Chief Minister of the ACT, give my final agreement to this most unusual and extreme legislation without consulting the people of the ACT â€“ the people these laws will affect,â€ he said.
Then on Saturday (appeared in Sundayâ€™s paper), John Howard said Mr Stanhope was being â€œirresponsibleâ€ and gave the veiled threat that in future the ACT government would not be trusted with any in confidence documents.
Yesterday Mr Stanhope challenged the Prime Minister to justify the laws, particularly the provisions that prevent suspects detained by ASIO from telling anyone whatâ€™s really happening to them and where they are.
Mr Howard said our leader was just doing the whole thing for political gain and not actually to inform the public â€“ which may or may not be true but as a side effect weâ€™re all getting to hear about the legislation they wanted to be kept secret.
This morning ABCâ€™s AM revealed that Mr Stanhope has decided he will not necessarily sign off on all parts of the legislation and that he will write to the other State and Territory leaders to advise them not to let the laws be rushed through.
And finally, Stanhopeâ€™s brave stance has made news worldwide, with a Google news search pulling up stories from Qatar, Italy and Malaysia as well as around the country.