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Chief Minister brings Draft Anti-Terror Legislation to the light of day – So Called Liberals Squeal

By johnboy - 15 October 2005 36

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.

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 leader’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 Minister’s office are trying to censor him (this wasn’t picked up in JB’s original story for various reasons).

“I 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 – the people these laws will affect,” he said.

Then on Saturday (appeared in Sunday’s paper), John Howard said Mr Stanhope was being “irresponsible” 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 what’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 – which may or may not be true but as a side effect we’re all getting to hear about the legislation they wanted to be kept secret.

This morning ABC’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, Stanhope’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.

What’s Your opinion?


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36 Responses to
Chief Minister brings Draft Anti-Terror Legislation to the light of day – So Called Liberals Squeal
Samuel Gordon-Stewar 7:21 pm 16 Oct 05

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but John Howard has stated that the draft published by Stanhope is out of date and significant changes have been made since that version…publishing the out of date material is a complete waste of time, if he had to leak, why not leak an up to date version?

I have no problem with open debate on legislation, but legislation always has a stage where the people involved in producing it keep it private while they revise it and improve on it. I have every confidence that, if the legislation doesn’t meet the expectations of the public, it will not be passed. I can’t see people like Barnaby Joyce supporting legislation he doesn’t agree with.

I don’t want the legislation to be permanent, but I think that, if produced correctly, it is important. As for the shoot to kill issue, I think the police here know how much scutiny they would come under if there was a London style shooting, and so I think that they would be more cautious than that.

I see your point, I don’t agree with it, but I see it, and I hope you can see my point, even if you disagree with it. Shall we agree to disagree?

johnboy 2:26 pm 16 Oct 05

Sam you’re making a goose of yourself.

There’s a reason why parliament sits in open session.

Our laws are meant to be debated in public, not in private. This is the best thing Mr Stanhope has done in office, its not the issue he should be resigning over.

if you don’t understand the issues involved I suggest picking up a good history of the english civil war.

Wikipedia has a start in it here.

Once these laws are passed senators good intentions will be irrelevant and you might want to reaquaint yourself with the Jean De Menezes shooting in london where police shot to kill with no evidence and then lied repeatedly about the matter.

Samuel Gordon-Stewar 12:01 pm 16 Oct 05

I agree that stateline should be live.

The reason I feel that the ammendment process has been broken is that whatever conclusions they would have come up with before it would have been made public now can’t easily happen because there will be a bunch of opportunistic loonies to try to make unsubstantiated out of context complaints about the legislation…if that makes sense…

terubo 7:38 am 16 Oct 05

SGS – I wasn’t talking about the repeat screening, but the Friday edition.
Surely you’re aware that any self-respecting current affairs program of this nature should be LIVE-to-air: e.g. 7.30 Report, Lateline, Dateline, Sunday, the 6.30 crap on the commercial channels, etc etc. Clearly ‘Stateline’ isn’t. That’s why they missed this HUGE story on Friday, which broke in perfect time for a serious current affairs program. The story was crying out for a live studio interview with any number of appropriate people/commentators – including our venerable Chief Minister/Mayor/Senior Alderman himself.

Spectra 7:05 am 16 Oct 05

SGS: You repeatedly assert that this release is going to make it difficult to amend the legislation, but never really explain why this might be the case. Which part of the amendment system has been broken by this disclosure?

Samuel Gordon-Stewar 10:14 pm 15 Oct 05

Because stateline is a re-run from Friday night (unless you believe the Chronicle’s assertion that we see the NSW version). Unfortunately Stateline is a much more rigidly programmed program than the news, and can’t really cover a story that pops up a couple hours before the show goes to air, by which time it would have already been filmed.

AAP first ran the story at 5:35pm yesterday, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Stateline and State Focus talk about it next week. Will stateline have a Corbellesque image of Stanhope walking on City Hill?

terubo 9:54 pm 15 Oct 05

Er, excuse me, but can we look more closely at the ABC’s attention to this matter?
How come, on a terrific local newsday, when this topic was crying out to be discussed (as it has been nationally), none of it featured on the weekly local current affairs program ‘Stateline’?
Are we not being short-changed?

Samuel Gordon-Stewar 9:21 pm 15 Oct 05

People around here would know by now that I am not a Stanhope fan, but even if it was somebody I did like who leaked a confidential document, I would still be annoyed with them. On a similar case, when John Brogden had his moment of lunacy, I felt sorry for him, but he had to go, and in my view, Stanhope should now resign. Below are extracts from my editorial on the matter (any references to “Chief Turnip” are my application of one of the RiotACT search entries in what I consider an appropriate manner.

The draft legislation is due before Federal parliament in a couple weeks, and will probably be refined by then, so not only is this leak a breach of confidentiality, it is also unwise and irresponsible. Not only has the chief turnip broken the trust between the federal and ACT government’s, he has also placed further sensible and logical revisions of the legislation at risk.

I will admit that it does appear to have a few rough edges, but these would have been revised before or during their time in parliament, and the early release has provided extra amunition for a propoganda campaign from the “no anti-terrorism legislation” camp. Already Green’s senator/leader Bob Brown has said that it contains a section which enables police to shoot to kill, and frankly, I don’t think anti-terrorism legislation would be complete without such a clause, and I strongly suspect that Mr. Brown has taken it out of context, and omitted any safeguards/regulations which would be part of the paragraphs in question. The federal government aren’t stupid enough to just hand out guns to the police and say “If you see something, shoot it.” They know that the “rogue senators” wouldn’t stand for it, and neither would the other parties.

Perhaps the chief turnip only pretended to be pleased about the new legislation so that he could leak it in an unfinished and rough state which could ultimately destroy it. If so, then this has to be one of the worst cases of political grandstanding in the history of Australian politics.

Regardless of his intentions, he has leaked a confidential government document, and deserves to be punished. If his intentions were as I stated above, then a charge of treason should also be considered…after all, isn’t an attempt to unfairly influence the proceedings of potential anti-terrorism legislation an unusual form of terrorism?

I haven’t read the draft legislation yet, but I will make sure I get read enough to get an overview of it. As unfortunate as it is, the draft legislation has been viewed by so many people now, that it would be impossible to remove it from public knowledge, and to not get see some of it now would open myself up to manipulation by those of Stanhope’s ilk. I will not store a copy of the draft legislation on my site, but I will retain my two-pages-per-page double-sided copy of it for now, and if requested, I will shred it and make sure I don’t disclose any of the contents.

Chief Turnip Stanhope is an outright twit, and shouldn’t be allowed to hold public office, he is a danger to our society, and can never be trusted with confidential documents ever again. The release of the draft legislation will hamper efforts to logically fix up any problems which may be part of the legislation, and has almost certainly fueled a proganda war between the “for” & “against” camps, as can be seen in the incredible amount of press releases relating to it.

Samuel Gordon-Stewar 7:17 pm 15 Oct 05

The online version of ABC TV News (for lack of a better description) clearly shows pictures of Stanhope’s website (including that scary photo) and screenshots of the legislation, clearly resting on “draft-in-confidence” for a few seconds. I guess ABC TV News did the same thing.

Mr Evil 6:58 pm 15 Oct 05

All he’s done is posted a ‘draft’ document, which could change a great deal (for the better or for the worse!) after the Premiers and Chief Ministers have had some input into it.

I think he’d have been better attempting to get the other Premiers and Chief Minsters on-side to voice their possible fears/complaints about this draft legislation to Howard as one voice. I only hope he hasn’t jeopardised any chance of this happening now.

Spectra 6:49 pm 15 Oct 05

Maybe it’s a publicity stunt, but you have to ask – what better thing could he have done? Whatever the motivations, the outcome (us actually being able to look at the laws that we’re going to be goverened by before they’re passed) is, to my mind, unquestionably positive.

johnboy 5:45 pm 15 Oct 05

Why does this scream out “publicity stunt”? I mean, this is from the same guy who tried to stop the Bushfire Inquiry from continuing. Freedom, truth, democracy: but only when it suits Jon.

Just because I don’t like everything he’s done doesn’t mean he’s not capable of doing good things.

Chances are it’ll come to naught. But the Chief Minister has done some great good here in my view.

Kerces 5:23 pm 15 Oct 05

CT story on this in which Federal Attorney-General Phillip Ruddock calls the ublication of the draft legislation “disappointing” here.

Mr Evil 4:59 pm 15 Oct 05

Why does this scream out “publicity stunt”? I mean, this is from the same guy who tried to stop the Bushfire Inquiry from continuing. Freedom, truth, democracy: but only when it suits Jon.

shauno 4:08 pm 15 Oct 05

I’m not usually a John Stanhope fan, however what he has done is great. I don’t like the way this country is going with this legislation.
If we are at risk due to these lunatics then so be it. We shouldn’t take away any of our freedoms or pass any fascist state laws. Because in the end we just let the terrorists get what they want. And you have to be very careful and not take our free society and democracy for granted because over time little changes compound and before you know it we will be a full on police state.
We already have the most over governed society in the world and I’m just getting sick and tired of it all and saddened by it.

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