Free Speech, Fair Trial Rights under attack -- List

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ASIO bill is rotten at its core, says NSW Prof George Williams, Australian Financial Review, Laura Tingle, Dec 9, 02 , and Secret talks to fill pending High Court vacancy, Australian Financial Review, Dec 11, 2002
Rights to Free Speech and Fair Trial attacked; Under the guise of fighting terrorism after September 11, 2001, governments both in the "Free World" and in the less free nations are depriving people of the right to Free Speech, a Free Press, and even of their right a Fair Trial. It is no good saying that what has happened to the people captured in Afghanistan and either massacred or cooped up for more than a year in Guatanamo Bay, Cuba, or being seized in Britain or the United States, cannot happen to us -- if even one person in the power of a supposedly civilised country can be held without the right to a fair trial, we are all at risk. Jan 18, 2003
• Free Speech, Fair Trial Rights under attack -- List: Jan 18, 2003
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Lightfoot calls off race slur appeal; Senator Ross Lightfoot has withdrawn his appeal against a Federal Court decision that found comments he made to a journalist were racist and unlawful. Yesterday, Senator Lightfoot refused to comment to The West Australian but told ABC radio he would not retract the comments. "One cannot deny history and I would be very, very shallow if I was to retract those comments," he said. "They are true. They are supported by evidence over a period of 200 years." He said the likelihood of ongoing costly appeals influenced his decision. -- The West Australian, "Lightfoot calls off race slur appeal," Thu Jan 16 03
• ASIO can now keep the peace. This pro-detention and spying editorial said that the Greens and Democrats inhabited a "parallel universe," opposing the ASIO Bill and saying that Australia was starting down the totalitarian track. ". . . this is no thin edge of the wedge opening the door to political prisons." And so on.
-- The Weekend Australian, "ASIO can now keep the peace," editorial, June 28-29, 2003, p 16
• Basic rights destroyed under ASIO Bill. Time and time again we've gone to the other side of the world to fight in other people's wars, but now, on Australian soil, our elected leaders pass a Bill that drastically reduces our freedom, and there's barely a whimper from the masses. What is wrong with us? And next Anzac Day, the PM, and others responsible for this disgraceful ASIO Bill, will have the gall to make speeches about the defence of freedom. -- Lloyd Swanton, Watsons Bay, NSW.
   Citizens can be arrested in secret without charges being laid, their phones tapped, mail intercepted and neighbours are encouraged to spy on one another. Is this East Germany in 1953 or Australia 2003? -- Ian Semmel, Elaman Creek, Qld
   [A cartoon shows two prisoners hanging by their wrists. One says: "I thought Australia was a free country." The other says: "There's no charge for detention." (A delightful double pun!)]
-- The Weekend Australian, "High-price Bill," letters, p 16, June 28-29, 2003
• [Eureka ban, power to lock up without charge or chance to call witnesses.] My Word.  Australia flag; 
[Eureka ban, power to lock up without charge or chance to call witnesses.]


   The Big Issue No. 287, www.big issue. , by Julian Burnside, p 11, September 11-25, 2007
To Julian Burnside, a recent ban on the Eureka flag represents both an astonishing affront to free speech and another assault on basic liberties.
   In 1854, a small group of miners staged the Eureka Stockade rebellion against the Victorian Government. Measured against today's laws, it was a terrorist offence. Nevertheless, in the complex weave of Australian values, it holds an honoured place in our history and heritage. Eureka's enduring symbol is the flag of the Southern Cross, sewn by the miners' women. Now it has become an offence for some Australians to show the Eureka flag.
   This surprising result was produced last month by the Federal Government's building-industry policeman (the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner; ABCC) when it banned the Eureka flag on worksites, saying it represents the union and is therefore a breach of freedom of association.
   This is not only alarming, it is astonishingly stupid. First, consider the logical process involved. The flag is understood by some to represent a union; flying the flag therefore reminds people of the existence of the union; reminding people of the existence of the union gives people the impression that they have to join the union; giving them that impression (without more) deprives them of the choice not to join the union. Thus, flying the Eureka flag denies people the right not to join the union and breaches the freedom of association provisions of the Workplace Relations Act. If this logic were taken to its natural conclusion, the ABCC would prohibit any reference to unions at any workplace, on the footing that to be told of the existence of a union implies that you have no choice but to join. Thus, in the anti-union Utopia of the ABCC and its political masters, 'freedom of association' means you are not allowed to know of the existence of unions, although you are free to associate with them if you find out about them.
   We can accept as a starting point that the freedom of association provisions expressly restrict one aspect of free speech - it's not lawful to say: "You must join the union." But it is a stretch of imagination to say that flying an iconic flag expresses that prohibited idea. Is it now unlawful to say "Unions exist" or "It is good to join a union"? The ABCC's new ruling would suggest so.
   Our basic rights - liberty, free speech, no self-incrimination and the right to a fair trial - have been fundamental to Australian democracy. It is alarming to see how they are now being eroded. Our freedoms are being whittled away. The right to silence, for example, is disappearing.
   In 2002, ASIO was given power to permit the incommunicado detention of innocent people who may have information about others possibly involved in terrorist offences. That person may be taken into isolated custody, and will not have a free choice of legal help; they must answer questions, or face five years' imprisonment. When released, they are not permitted to tell anyone what happened, on pain of imprisonment. They can legally 'disappear' for a week.
   Under provisions introduced in 2005, the Federal Police can get a preventative detention order that results in a person being jailed for up to 14 days, without charge and without conviction for any offence. The order is obtained in secret. The person is not allowed to know the evidence on which the order was obtained. Similarly, in a secret hearing, the Federal Police can obtain a control order against any person. This can involve house arrest for up to 12 months. The subject of the control order is not allowed to know what evidence was used against them.
   The Federal Attorney-General has wide powers to prevent one party in litigation from knowing what evidence the Government has used against them, and he has wide powers to prevent a party from calling evidence that is relevant and helpful to that party's case.
My Word is a forum for opinions. Send submissions to or The Big Issue, GPO Box 4911 W, Melbourne, Vic 3001.

   As the case of Dr Mohamed Haneef has shown, the Federal Police can hold a person for questioning for several weeks (even though they didn't ask Haneef any questions during the first 11 days of his incarceration). Now there is a serious proposal to give Federal Police 'sneak and peek' warrants, which, if the terms of the warrant are exceeded, mean the subject of the warrant has no redress: they wouldn't even know they have been raided. Judicial oversight of the execution of a search warrant is the only possible way of guarding against misuse of the warrant.
   History shows that basic liberties are lost not all at once but by small steps. It is time to take our liberties seriously, before they are taken away altogether.
   Author and barrister Julian Burnside, QC, has acted pro bono in many human rights cases, particularly those concerning the treatment of refugees. He is also President of Liberty Victoria.
   (EXPLANATION on Page 2: The Big Issue is an independent current affairs and entertainment magazine sold in Australia by people experiencing homelessness and/or long-term unemployment. ... Vendors keep half the cover price ... We do not collect money on the streets. ... Tel 03 9663 4533, Fax 03 9663 4252.)
[Sep 11-25, 07]
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* [Eureka ban, power to lock up without charge or chance to call witnesses.] My Word, by Julian Burnside, barrister, author. Sep 11-25, 07

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Rights attacked ^ ^  LIST  v v  Appeal called off 
 Directories:  Main 19  Australia  Esperanto  Experiments  Freedom  Georgist  Globalism  Molestation 141  Religion  Submission 6 
249  ^ ^  CONTENTS 1   19  Translate  Links  Events  Books  HOME  v v  251
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