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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
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johnboy 6:12 pm 18 Oct 05

Members of the Legislature are not “public servants” and should certainly not be bound by the public service act.

Despite what that tosser Bracks has been saying COAG is not a Cabinet meeting (and he is not a member of federal cabinet).

It’s a secret meeting of executive governments, with no legal standing, used to present parliaments with fait a complis.

I get sent “in confidence” bollocks all the time. usually by bad people up to little good.

It’s a bullies tactic and as mentioned unless you’ve agreed to be bound by it in advance is utterly meaningless.

Indi 4:30 pm 18 Oct 05

Jazz – this wouldn’t really matter, he may well have been bound by the agreement he entered into to receive such a document and the ‘in-confidence’ provisions associated with viewing it. Either way, he’s technically breached a perceived obligation of upholding confidentiality concerns of AG’s.

Jazz 3:42 pm 18 Oct 05

Unless you have given a written undertaking in advance then no confidentiallity markings on a document are binding to you.

JB, i’m curious to know if our CM is bound by the public service act. Which every public servant in the ACT signs and is bound to. One that also states you will abide by the confidentiality of documents that come in to your possession.

Indi 1:02 pm 18 Oct 05

sorry Mael, I too know what you are talking about. I should have been clearer in saying that there was other comment to the effect that people felt overly concerned that ‘they are coming to get me’ and be pinged for discussing personal views on a website/chat room.

Maelinar 12:43 pm 18 Oct 05

No Indi, that’s from my experience in the trade.

The big men dressed in black suits who come around to introduce you to a .22 subcalibre silenced round are the paranoia people

Indi 12:40 pm 18 Oct 05

you’re fuelled up on paranoia now…

Maelinar 8:21 am 18 Oct 05

From my experience in the trade he would have had to sign some documents allowing him access to the material he was privvy to, which he has just contravened.

Since pretty much everybody who frequents this website who has ever had an involvement with a security clearance will know the documentation I’m talking about, they will be able to back up the generalisation; If you spill the secrets, you’re fucked.

The rules involving classified material (and yes in-confidence is a classification) are extremely simple, you don’t sign the documentation, you can’t see the classified stuff.

Might be time for some clerks to go looking for a few papers to shred.

b2 11:03 pm 17 Oct 05

well the more news of the story was on media watch and lateline tonight

johnboy 10:42 pm 17 Oct 05

I think an exchange on the ABC this morning was illuminating.

Something like this:

Ross: A Caller rang in to say “Thank God You Don’t work for ASIO”

Chief Minister: The point is I don’t work for ASIO.

Unless you have given a written undertaking in advance then no confidentiallity markings on a document are binding to you.

You may choose to honour them, or not, depending on the relationship you want to maintain. But that is your own choice.

These cosy Premiers meetings are very dubious. A non-constitutional meeting of non-consititutional office holders in secret and reaching secret decisions by which the nation’s parliaments are bound? I care not if they founder on the publication of their communications.

Partly I’m scared by the Pastor Niemöller argument.

First they came for the communists,
I did not speak out
because I was not a communist.

When they came for the social democrats,
I did not speak out
because I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists
I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews
I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew;

And when they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

But frankly under these laws I see them coming for me pretty smartly.

And a hell of a lot of people on this site who give stick to governments both local and federal.

And then we won’t have much of a culture worth fighting for.

RandomGit 4:09 pm 17 Oct 05

Oh I don’t think he CAN, but I certainly think he is TRYING.

areaman 3:23 pm 17 Oct 05

I think the difference is that in this case Howard was only giving the senate a week (less in parlimentry terms) to look at a major piece of legislation, which if you ask me is unacceptable. If you push hard enough (i.e. the undemocratic way the coalition has bee running the parliment since they got the senate majority), then it’s going to burst somewhere.

che 1:53 pm 17 Oct 05

whats the point of having a lawyer available if what you tell them is not priviledged?
its not cricket

Maelinar 1:11 pm 17 Oct 05

Hi all, been gallivanting around the country over the last week, hence my abscence.

There is a couple of points in all this, obviously there is a hole in the system of informing people of what’s going on, which has been blown open by Mr Stanhope. More improvement needed to get to the stage where the public are fully aware of what’s being debated on their behalf in future.

Then we get to the most dire point. A Confidence document has been made publicly avaliable. Obviously there are certain levels of ownership over such documentation, however I don’t think the Mayor of Canberra had the right or authority to make public the information that he has.

As Thumper has already stated, this has compromised the further flow of information down to the Canberra City Council from now on.

I’m sure that involved within the DRAFT legislation would be the punishment for handing out secrets willy-nilly, perhaps he has unbenowingly volunteered to be the test case ?

Unfortunately since he’s already gone public giving out secrets and gotten away with it, he’s given the defence of any future detainees a great big joker up their sleeves to pull out in emergency.

So we’re talking about legislation that’s already been broken before it’s released, that has to be a new record.

areaman 12:40 pm 17 Oct 05

RandomGit, if you think someone from the ACT Centre has any chance of being leader of the ALP your rather mistaken. I’m sure Jon knows this and would have no plan of ever being federal leader.

RandomGit 12:28 pm 17 Oct 05

You did ok.

I see it as a continued campaign to attack the ideological basis of the current federal government to try and win popular support in the left so he can push for federal candidacy and leadership of the Labour Party in general, in years to come.

Summary, he is waving his penis to the voters.

Thumper 12:19 pm 17 Oct 05

Geez, I should proof read my posts…

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