Last August I wrote about the application of the political paradigm known as the state of fear. It has been employed by bodies politics and dictators since Persian times, reaching a perfection in the days of the Inquisition.
It is the notion that a government (or ruling body/dictator) keeps the community under control by creating a monster that only they can protect against.
This is the underlying premise that motivates the current government and the two before it, in its policies to deal with terrorism/boat people/political opponents.
I am a big fan of Waleed Aly, the award-winning journo from Fairfax Press who is also a panelist on television show The Project.
He has the ability to tell it how it is and to show inconsistencies in policies where they arise and give us all food for thought. His latest in the Crimes last week was a pearler.
Waleed showed that the current government’s approach to dual nationals is fundamentally flawed and actually shows a policy driven by a pathological need to stay in office, stating contradictory lines of argument whenever and wherever it feels a need.
Cop this! Waleed points out that Tony Abbott says he does not want terrorists loose on our streets. Abbott did say that – I heard him myself on the telly. That’s why we need to make sure that people who go overseas to fight in someone else’s war against people who are actually fighting each other, don’t come back here and bring those issues into our community. So far, so good?
But what about those born here, Australian citizens only, who do the same? What about those who fight on the same side as our government? What about those who fight against others who for the time being are our allies but recently were proscribed terrorists? Hmmm, getting cloudy!
But also, as Waleed points out, what about the government cancelling the passports of around 80 Australians who were intending to leave and go overseas to fight? The government is actually forcing these people to run loose on our streets!
Hang on. So the gumment wants to stop people coming home and running loose on our streets, but it won’t let people leave, forcing them to give expression to their zeal on our streets! Good one, Tone!
Of course, the PM’s obsession with all things terror now extends to not only a denial of our citizenship right. Without conviction, he is prepared to take away the freedom of expression of people not convicted of the crimes he suggests they are guilty of.
Zacky Mallah was found guilty of threatening an ASIO officer. Ergo, he is a terrorist. He shouldn’t be allowed on the Q&A program because he was convicted of that “crime”. How many people have been convicted of threatening a police officer? How many are banned from commenting publicly on the issue they found it necessary to be so worked up about? Double standard again.
Waleed tells us, and I believe him, that Zacky was acquitted of terrorism charges. But that doesn’t wash with our Tone, any more than it washed with his mentor John Howard in his treatment of Mohammed Haneef.
Tone says the courts are not necessarily capable of being adjudicating on a person’s intentions. A minister is much more able to judge that and take away a right. Shame that it was unconstitutional, Tone.
And now, in a shameful display of petulance, our Beloved Leader is hell bent on denying the ABC its independence as a broadcaster.
Unusually, ABC chairman Mark Scott took issue with the PM’s position in a speech last Thursday. He made the point that sometimes, free speech principles mean giving platforms to those with whom we fundamentally disagree. This is exactly what freedom of speech is all about.
If the ABC is to be an independent broadcaster, it must be free to air whatever it likes within the constraints of its Act. It is not the voice of the government of the day.
Mr Scott said it well when he said:
“The A in ABC is “Australian… the ABC is clearly on the side of Australia. And the part we play, what we do for the side, is a vital one, central to our culture and our democracy – that of being an independent public broadcaster. It is the ABC’s independence from government, that shapes the ABC as a public broadcaster not a state broadcaster [my emphasis].”
Zacky Mallah may hold views that we disagree with, but he is not a convicted terrorist. He has not committed a crime for which eternal silence is a sentence, and he has the same right to say things in a public arena as some of the other zealots which have occupied the seats in the Q&A audience.
As a regular Q&A viewer, I have been appalled at the views of some of the audience and some of the panellists, but to get two sides of an argument I sometimes need to hear the one I don’t like to hear.
The state of fear is safe in Tony’s hands and we can all rest fitfully in our beds.