Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Welcome to Melbourne Tea-Party

This site collates information about the so-called anti-terrorism legislation that the Australian and Victorian Governments have been progressively enacting since 2002.

It is currently maintained by a number of Melbournians who have grave concerns for the effects that this legislation will have on the vitality of democracy in Australia.

In the sections below you will find links to the legislation itself, analysis of it (What is it? How does it work? How might future legislation work?), responses to it, and importantly, ways for you to engage in the process of letting your representatives know what you think.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

What legislation are we talking about?

The Federal Government is presently seeking, with the Anti-Terrorism Bill (No. 2) 2005, to extend the legislation that it has in fact been passing since 2002.

Since 2002,

"a national 'terrorist' legal infrastructure has emerged in Australia. At the base of this infrastructure is the broad statutory definition of a 'terrorist act'; a term which, at its margins, embraces some industrial action and political protest. Built upon this definition is a range of 'terrorism' offences that travel far beyond acts like bombings and hijackings that are popularly considered terrorism."

"A key element in the 'terrorist' legal infrastructure is the granting of unprecedented powers to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO)."

"In a robust democracy, the activities of ASIO and particularly the exercise of such novel and sweeping powers should be subject to close monitoring and public examination. Yet increasingly, information necessary for such scrutiny has and is being excised from the public domain in the name of national
-- Joo-Cheong Tham and Jude McCulloch

The emergence of this infrastructure has not been uncontroversial. The Government's first attempt to introduce extensive and radical changes to (among other things) the powers of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) was met by strong opposition in Parliament, in the media, and from private citizens who made submissions to Parliamentary committees. The proposed changes had to be substantially modified in order to secure their passage through the Senate.

As of the 2004 federal election, however, the Government has gained a much stronger grip on the Senate. It appears to face little parliamentary opposition to its so-called “security” or “anti-terrorism” agenda, which, even by conservative measures, can only be described as extreme.

Elsewhere on this page you can find links to the legislation that has already been passed, and to the new Bills that the Government is going to introduce into Parliament. It makes for very interesting reading, though at times this is a cumbersome task. For those who prefer, we have provided some summary of the legislation, as well as links to other summaries and 'expert analysis'.

Friday, October 28, 2005

The new legislation: Anti-Terrorism Bill (No. 2) 2005

If passed, the Anti-Terrorism Bill (No. 2) 2005 would amend a wide range of existing statutes, including:
  • ASIO Act 1979
  • Criminal Code Act 1995
  • Crimes Act 1914
  • Customs Act 1902
  • Migration Act 1958
  • Financial Transactions Reports Act 1988
  • Surveillance Devices Act 2004
It deals with nine broad areas:

  • Definition of 'terrorist organisations'
  • Financing of 'terrorism'
  • Control orders and preventative detention
  • Powers to stop, question and search people in relation to 'terrorist acts'
  • Powers to obtain information and documents
  • Sedition
  • Optical surveillance on board vessels and aircraft
  • Reporting of financial transactions
  • ASIO powers

In each area, the Anti-Terrorism Bill extends the powers already accorded to the executive and security agencies under the several previous statutes relating to anti-terrorism.

The leaked draft Anti-Terrorism Bill 2005 - see below for our early summary (here is another, less detailed, but in plainer language).

Australian Anti-Terrorism Bill 2005 at Wikipedia

Discussion of the bill by ANU sociologists, provided to John Stanhope (Chief Minister and Attorney General, ACT legislative assembly)


Parliamentary library (online): section on anti-terrorism legislation.

Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) (with amendments up to 2005): Contains definitions (of "terrorist act", "terrorist organization", etc.), organization proscription regime and various offences.

National Security Information (Criminal and Civil Proceedings) Act 2004

Legislation passed since 2002

Before 2002 there were no specific 'anti-terrorism laws' in Australia. There were laws covering related areas in criminal investigation and law enforcement, criminal procedure and international cooperation, specific offences - including those concerned with chemical and biological weapons, WMDs, foreign incursions - proscription of certain organizations, entry and deportation of aliens, intelligence services, and suspect financial transactions.

After September 11, the Government introduced a series of legislative amendments, seeking to facilitate investigation and criminalization of conduct that might be connected with, or give rise to, terrorism:

  • Security Legislation Amendment (Terrorism) Act 2002 (adds into the Criminal Code a definition of “terrorism” and a series of offences, all of which are punishable with life imprisonment: engaging in a terrorist act; providing or receiving training for a terrorist act; possessing things connected with a terrorist act; collecting documents likely to facilitate a terrorist act; acts in preparation for a terrorist act; also allows proscription of “terrorist organizations”)

  • Suppression of Financing of Terrorism Act 2002 (criminalizes collection and provision of funds for terrorism, including where person is reckless as to whether funds will be used to finance terrorist acts, and allows for freezing of assets; also requires cash dealers to report suspect transactions)

  • Criminal Code Amendment (Suppression of Terrorist Bombing) Act 2002 (gives effect to International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, creates new offences of placing explosive devices in public places, government facilities, public transport systems — due to constitutional limitations, though, does not apply to offences entirely internal to Australia, involving only Australian individuals or bodies corporate as defendants, victims etc)

  • Border Security Legislation Amendment Act 2002 (strengthens border surveillance and surveillance of movement of people, control of Customs over movement of goods)

  • Telecommunications Interception Legislation Amendment Act 2002 (amends the Telecommunications (Interception) Act 1979 to permit intercepting law enforcement agencies to seek telecommunications interception warrants in connection with the investigation of terrorism offences set out in the Criminal Code Act)

  • Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Amendment (Terrorism) Act 2003 (empowers ASIO to obtain a warrant to detain and question a person who may have information important to the gathering of intelligence in relation to terrorist activity)

Australian anti-terrorism legislation, 2004 and ASIO at Wikipedia

Secrecy, Silence and State Terror, by Joo-Cheong Tham and Jude McCulloch

Submissions by Dr Jenny Hocking (Monash University) to Parliamentary Committees regarding 2002 legislation

Discussion of 2004 widening of police powers at the Center for Security Studies, Zurich

Please see Analyses, below, as well as our Case Studies section (still under development ... we shall redouble our efforts.)

Some key concepts

Australia, unlike the United States or the United Kingdom does not have a Bill of Rights. Our Constitution has few express guarantees of civil rights. This means that, aside from some few guarantees that the High Court has recognized as implied by the structure of the Australian Constitution, individual rights are in the hands of the Parliament.

Legislative power of the Commonwealth: The Constitution provides for a federal system of government that divides power between the Commonwealth and the States. It does this by specifying certain areas (or “heads”) of power in relation to which the Commonwealth may pass legislation, such as defence, foreign affairs or corporations. The States have exclusive legislative power except insofar as the Commonwealth exercises its powers under the heads listed in the Constitution. There is no Commonwealth head of power with respect to terrorism or crime. This is why the Commonwealth needs the support of the States if it is to pass the Anti-Terrorism Bill 2005. The Constitution provides a mechanism whereby the States can refer any matter to the Commonwealth that would otherwise not come within the scope of Commonwealth legislative power.

Separation of powers and the rule of law: The legislative power of the Commonwealth is further limited by the principle of the separation of powers. In essence this principle means that one body (the legislature) makes the laws, another (the executive or the administration – “the government”) executes them, and a third (the judiciary) judges their application in particular cases. According to the theory each branch constitutes a check on the others, to ensure that power is not abused.
The separation of judicial and executive power is a key one and one which limits the kinds of laws that the Parliament can make. The executive (the government), according to the principle of the rule of law, is not above the law, but must adhere to it. Courts play in important role in ensuring that members of the executive (so Ministers, bureaucrats, even lower-level employees of the state like police officers, and teachers) do not exceed their powers (see below). They are also, in principle at least, the only mechanism for testing the legality of detention and arrest (the principle of so-called habeas corpus). Under the Constitution the “adjudgment and punishment of criminal guilt” are “essentially and exclusively judicial in character.” It may be that some of the legislation we are considering could face challenges in the High Court to its constitutional validity on this basis. For example, some of the laws giving a Minister the power to list certain organizations (and by implication making their members guilty of an offence) might be held to usurp the function of the courts in adjudging criminal guilt.

Judicial review of executive action: Australia has a legislative regime (contained in the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1975) for testing the legality of executive decisions such as those of a Minister or a public servant in a court. This is not what is known as merits review, i.e. you cannot appeal against a bad decision simply because it was a bad decision. Only decisions that were procedurally flawed can be successfully challenged (often the court will return the case to the original decision-maker with a direction to make the decision again). The Anti-Terrorism Bill would exempt some of the decisions made by the Attorney-General under the Criminal Code from even this weak kind of judicial review. Decisions made under the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 are already exempted.

Reflections on the Legislation

Potted history of "separation of powers" and "due process"

Magna Carta, 1215, England - "the first step in a long historical process leading to the rule of constitutional law."

The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution (1791):
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
USA PATRIOT Act (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001)

Australia has no Bill of Rights, although the High Court has held that there are some protections implied by the structure of the Constitution. Aside from these, the Parliament can legislate in disregard of rights like those protected by the United States Bill of Rights.

Exceptional times?

Whiskey bar has put together a series of excerpts on the rule of law, torture and the institutionalization of arbitrary justice. The comparison suggested there between current events and the suspension of constitutional rights in Germany, 1933 is interesting not because we need to apply fundamentalist categories ("evil", "crazy") to our current representatives, as is so often done with Adolf Hitler, but because--soberly judged--the tendencies evinced by the current legislation are similar to those that operated in Wiemar-era Germany. (Do we need reminding that Hitler was popularly elected, or that Singapore's People's Action Party has been directing an authoritarian regime since 1965 with overwhelming support at the polls?) The current legislation makes the Nazis look like "pioneers ahead of their time", albeit crude ones. Now that we are on the whole more cynical, the party (or parties?) of order has needed to become more sophisticated. --mh

A little song, of Operational Information

Though now 'tis Spring, and my denizen Fibres call
in Humour seasonish "From thine to be unpent!" -
be warned, nathless may I thee vanish from my Heart,
without a Trace. In Times as troubled Ours, the Part
of Love must cede its Nature-given Liberty
to changéd Laws, and Powers of Emergency.
While sweet the Sigh and tender Moan thy Lips let fall,
sweeter the Token, more misused to stir Dissent
among those subject to my inner Government:
So let us love top-secretly, or not at all.


Alexis de Tocqueville, `Democracy in America' (1833)

In 1831 Tocqueville travelled from the France of the July Monarchy to the USA. His observations precipitated a wealth of incisive reflection, set down in his seminal text on democracy, which seem strikingly apposite to our question. In the following passage he considers a "novel despotism" peculiar to democracies:

"The first thing that strikes the observation is an innumerable multitude of men all equal and alike, incessantly endeavoring to procure the petty and paltry pleasures with which they glut their lives. Each of them, living apart, is as a stranger to the fate of all the rest – his children and his private friends constitute to him the whole of mankind; as for the rest of his fellow-citizens, he is close to them, but he sees them not – he touches them, but he feels them not; he exists but in himself and for himself alone; and if his kindred still remain to him, he may be said at any rate to have lost his country.

"Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications, and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent, if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks on the contrary to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness: it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances – what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?

"Thus it every day renders the exercise of the free agency of man less useful and less frequent; it circumscribes the will within a narrower range, and gradually robs a man of all the uses of himself. The principle of equality has prepared men for these things: it has predisposed men to endure them, and oftentimes to look on them as benefits." -- From Book Four – Chapter VI: What Sort Of Despotism Democratic Nations Have To Fear

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Ways to respond: some ideas

Australian people need to become more aware of the legislation that is continuing to be passed through Parliament in the name of a “War on Terror”, and they need to hold their representatives accountable.

Here a
some ideas for ways to respond to the plans of the State and Federal Governments. These are just the ones we've noticed or have been able to come up with. There must be literally zillions more. Or at least millions.

Contact your MPs and Senators

You may wish to write to your representatives – we have provided some template letters to get you started in this direction.

Send letters to your state representatives. Here is a list of their addresses. (In the State Parliament, the Legislative Assembly is the lower house, the Legislative Council the upper.)

Even better, you can telephone the member in your electorate (remembering that both State and Federal Governments are involved), and arrange to meet with them. At least according to the official story, they represent you, and should be happy to speak with you. Your local member can be found by using the internet or by calling the AEC on 13 23 26.

"Telephone your Federal member of parliament and arrange to meet them [...]. If you can't meet with your MP [...], ask to speak with them over the phone. And failing that, ask to meet their most senior adviser." -- Click here for more, including a list of questions you might want to ask, a list that could easily be expanded. (The linked article might seem to suggest that the legislation, if it gets passed, cannot be removed. Naturally this is not the case.)

Here is a somewhat daunting list of members' email addresses. The state reps are all NSW, but the federal upper/lower houses are listed too.

Here's what the Civil Rights Network 'urges'.

Some other ideas:

+ Make a T-shirt. Ideas for T-shirt slogans (use fabric paint and a brush, very easy, or a stencil and a spray can, slightly less easy, may come out in the wash. Who washes their agitatory t-shirt anyway?)
“Not yet disappeared by ASIO”
“Regime change begins at home” (maybe not if the sedition provisions in the Anti-Terrorism Bill are passed.)


+ Read a story by Franz Kafka

+ Produce polemical art or writing, using the various legal and public-discursive categories in ‘playful’ or ‘subversive’ ways; get it seen or read a.s.a.p.; don’t be too precious about your immortality

+ Stage noisy mock-arrests in public places (but don’t of course cause a disturbance or urge any dissent or dissatisfaction with the state)

+ Of course, TALK, to your friends, neighbours, workmates, classmates, shopmen, butlers …

Taking it to the streets - upcoming public events

Wednesday 11.30am –9th November 2005
383 La Trobe Street, Melbourne

Wednesday 11.30am – 16 th November 2005
Cnr Flinders Street & St.Kilda Road , Melbourne

Past Events
Corner Swanston Street & Bourke Street Mall, Melbourne *
11.30am – 26th October 2005
OF AUSTRALIA – Melbourne *
Wednesday 11.30am – 2nd November 2005 Cnr William
Street & La Trobe Street , Melbourne

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Leaked draft Anti-Terrorism Bill 2005

The draft Anti-Terrorism Bill 2005 (Cth) - proposed changes to the Criminal Code and other Acts

These are some notes that I have been preparing while going through the draft Anti-Terrorism Bill leaked by the ACT Chief Minister. Note: the latest draft version of the Bill has yet to be made public, so some things may have changed.

Outstanding questions: (1) what kind of review would be possible of the executive decisions under the Bill? It exempts the decisions of the Attorney-General from AD(JR) review. But what about those of the “issuing authorities”? What is the nature of the remedies available from a federal court under s 105.28(2)(f)? What is the Ombudsman complaints mechanism (see Complaints (Australian Federal Police) Act 1981 (Cth) Part III)?

(2) How do these powers compare with those already exercisable by the police/AFP? In particular: what kind of institutional practices might affect our reading of the powers granted here?

Here’s some of what the Bill does (some of this only makes sense when you already know what the current legislation looks like):

Changes to the Criminal Code

Widens definition of a proscribable "terrorist organization" to include organizations that "advocate" (= "directly or indirectly counsels or urges" or "directly or indirectly provides instruction on" or "directly praises") the doing of a "terrorist act".

s. 104 inserted: CONTROL ORDERS on application by AFP to Federal (Magistrates) Court in respect of any person where the order would "substantially assist in preventing a terrorist act" and the court is satisfied that the controls are "resonably necessary, appropriate and adapted to the purpose of protecting the public from a terrorist act". 12 months max duration - 16 years and older - Controls include: house arrest, tracking devices, photographing of person, restrictions on movement and association, etc. - urgent orders: phone the Court - person may apply to issuing court for revocation - annual reports tabled in Parliament - sunset provision: 10 years.

s. 105 inserted: provides for PREVENTATIVE DETENTION ORDERS (PDOs) - either INITIAL or CONTINUED.

INITIAL - AFP apply to "issuing authority", in this case can be an AFP member of, or above, the rank of Superintendent. 24 hrs max duration. Can be extended and further extended but only up to 24 hrs after first taken into custody.

CONTINUED - AFP apply to "issuing authority" = a person who is also a judge, but who does not function in a judicial capacity. Rather, they are appointed by the Minister and function in their personal capacity (with the same "protection and immunity" as a High Court Justice). (## Judicial review of this decision?) 48 hrs max duration. (Can be similarly extended within 48hr limit.)

I.e.: custody begins under initial order -- 24 hrs -- continued order granted -- 24 hrs -- release. (48 hrs total in custody.)

PROHIBITED CONTACT ORDER (s 105.16) - allows AFP to apply (similarly) for an order prohibiting the person, while in preventative detention, to contact a specified person.

AFP powers and obligations under PREVENTATITVE DETENTION ORDERS (PDOs)

AFP powers to take custody under PDOs:
- power to enter, search premises: May enter premises at any time "using such force as is necessary and reasonable in the circumstances" for the purpose of searching or taking into custody. May enter dwelling b/w 9pm - 6am if not "practicable" to take into custody at another time, or if necessary to prevent the loss of evidence.
- power to use "force": may use "force" and subject person to "indignity" so far as is "necessary and reasonable". May endanger the person's life to protect the life of, or prevent serious injury to, another, or if the person is fleeing and AFP member "believes on reasonable grounds that the person cannot be apprehended in any other manner."

- Powers to frisk search or search hat, coat, jacket, gloves, shoes.

Person may be transferred from AFP to ASIO custody where ASIO warrant in effect. (Does not extend duration of PDO) Compare ASIO Act 1979 (Cth) section 34D.

A person may be "released" and then, immediately after being informed of release, "taken into custody on some other basis." (105.27(4))

A detained person must be informed of the order, its period, restrictions, further applications, and of their rights to make a complaint to the Ombudsman (see below), a federal court (to seek a remedy relating to the order or to the treatment of the person by the AFP-- ## merits review?) and to contact a lawyer (see below). The AFP's failure to fulfill these obligations is an offence (carrying a penalty of 2 years' imprisonment) but will not affect the lawfulness of the detention. It is a defence to this offence if the AFP member can show that compliance with the obligations would have been "impractical" because of the actions of the detained person. (105.28)

A copy of any PDOs (but not of any prohibited contact orders) must be given to the detained person and to a lawyer they may nominate (if contact with that person is not prohibited). Failure to comply is here not an offence, and does not make detention unlawful.

A person detained must be "treated with humanity and respect for human dignity" and must not be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment." An offence carrying a 2-year jail term applies.

The detained person may have no contact with other people, except as provided:
- Family member: can contact a family member to confirm that person is safe, but nothing else.
- Ombudsman: can make complaint to Ombudsman under Complaints (AFP) Act 1981 (Cth) section 22.
- Lawyer: Can contact preferred lawyer if not barred by prohibited contact order, in which case the AFP must give the person "reasonable assistance to choose another lawyer." In so doing, the AFP may "give priority to lawyers who have been given security clearance at an appropriate level by the Department." (105.34(3))

All such contact is subject to any prohibited contact orders. The AFP may monitor all contact, including the content and meaning of the communication.


The following are articles by specialists that go into some detail about the already-existing legislation, listed here from brevity to complexity in descending order:

Secrecy, Silence and State Terror, by Joo-Cheong Tham and Jude McCulloch

(A very comprehensible 2 pages: The government's 'anti-terrorist' laws promote fear and secrecy as they undermine democracy ... [headings:] The Secrecy Provisions and Free Speech - Implicitly Sanctioning Lawlessness - Secrecy, Silence, Punitive Detention and Exacerbating the Risk of Torture - Managing and Suppressing 'Security' Information: Securing the Nation or Political Self-Interest?)

Protecting Democracy by Preserving Justice: 'Even for the Feared and Hated', by Jenny Hocking

(More detail, traces development of post-September 11 security powers)

Casualties of the Domestic 'War on Terror': A Review of Recent Counter-Terrorism Laws, by Joo-Cheong Tham

(Outline of the legislation - Casualties: Passing Laws with Indecent Haste; Misrepresentations; Stifling and Controlling Public Discussion; Implicitly Sanctioning Lawlessness by ASIO; Conferring Arbitrary Executive Power; Undermining Efforts to Prevent Extreme Acts of Ideological and Religious Violence)

Australian Intelligence Organisations and the Law: A Brief History, by Frank Cain

See especially part 6, 'ASIO's conversion into a secret police force'

Possible Constitutional Objections to the Powers to Ban 'Terrorist' Organisations, by Joo-Cheong Tham


Brigitte and the French Connection: Security Carte Blanche or A la Carte?, by Greg Carne

("The October 2003 deportation of Willy Brigitte highlights the political uses of recently conferred and controversial counter-terrorism detention and questioning laws. This article explores the executive contention upon a comparison with the French system, Australian detention and questioning powers require significant expansion. Executive usages of the Brigitte incident in response to terrorism display alarming trends steadily eroding rule of law principles and undermining the institutions and practices of Australian democracy.")

A collection of information on the topic 'Terrorism', provided by the Legal Information Access Centre.

Case Studies

The first chunk is taken from the website maintained by Liberty Victoria. (Their main site. The discussion paper, from which the following. The whole paper is well worth the twenty-odd minutes reading; it provides an overview as well as making an argument.)

“Terrorist acts, such as bombing and hijacking, were already grave crimes before these laws came into effect. So were conspiracies to commit such crimes. These new laws focus on religious and political motivation, and make more serious acts done from such motivation than acts done for reasons of greed or vindictiveness.

“Australia’s terror laws now define as terrorism many things that most people would not understand as terrorist crimes. Recklessly helping an organisation indirectly engage in fostering the doing of a terrorist act is now a crime (publication of views that are favourable to a particular organization may well be enough). Possession of a thing associated with terrorism is a crime – an incredibly vague provision. Reckless collection of documents likely to facilitate terrorist acts is a crime – how would one know if one was breaching this law?

“Deliberate assaults by politically motivated protesters in another country are now a terrorist crime under Australian terror laws. Violent resistance to any foreign government, regardless of the oppressive nature of the regime, is now a crime in Australia. Under our present laws, the Kurds fighting Saddam Hussein would be guilty of terrorism, and so would anyone raising money to help them. The same may be said of Fretilin in East Timor. If resistance to Mugabe becomes violent in Zimbabwe, our law will treat those opposing his regime as terrorists. Perhaps it is unlikely such people would be prosecuted, but it is contrary to the rule of law for enforcement of criminal offences to be dependent on the foreign policy of the government of the day.

“Under our laws, a striking worker who assaults a scab while manning a picket line against a certain government policy would be guilty of terrorism. A person who is believed to have information relating to terrorism may be detained by ASIO for questioning for 7 days, and a further warrant may be obtained for further questioning if new information comes to light. Only Australia has authorized detention of non-suspects in this way. These laws make crimes committed from a religious or political motivation more serious than the same crimes committed for motives of greed or spite. No good reason for this difference has been provided.”

The Scott Parkin Case

Scott Parkin is a US peace activist. He is a member of the Houston Global Awareness Collective, a group that explicitly states its commitment to non-violence. He has been a vocal critic of the American invasion of Iraq, and in particular of alleged ‘war-profiteering’ by the American company Halliburton.

During Parkin’s recent visit to Australia, ASIO requested an interview with him, which he declined after advice that it was not compulsory. On 10 September, 2005, he was detained by federal police, and placed in solitary confinement in a Victorian prison, until being deported on 15 September. This process took place on the grounds that a “competent authority” considered him to be a threat to national security.

His visa was cancelled immediately by the Department of Immigration when that dept. received advice of an adverse security assessment by ASIO. This led to his automatic detainment under the Migration Act, and subsequent deportation. Under the Migration Act, his detention was at his own expense, as was his removal (costing him around $11,700). No further details have since been given by ASIO, neither to Parkin nor to the public.

The Age claimed that techniques Scott Parkin was teaching in workshops while in Australia were what led to his deportation. Unnamed ASIO sources alleged that Scott Parkin may have intended to advocate techniques such as throwing marbles underneath police horses. Parkin has stated that he would never encourage such behaviour, considering it to be animal cruelty. In an interview with the ABC, Philip Ruddock said that the security assessment was made on the basis of “matters relating to politically motivated violence including violent protest activity.” Later, a spokesman for the Attorney-General scaled back the claim, saying that Parkin had encouraged “spirited” protest action. Parkin has not received a criminal charge.

The subsequent appeal process will test the powers of the Attorney-General under the National Security Information Act (this has been suggested [by whom?] as a possible motivation for his deportation). The nature of the claims against Parkin remain unknown.

Scott Parkin’s barrister is Julian Burnside, QC. In an interview on Radio National, Burnside said it may be difficult to appeal the adverse security assessment, and showed concern for the degradation of due process and transparency:

"… the Attorney-General [has] power under the National Security Information Act to certify conclusively that revealing the contents of the report would adversely affect Australia’s national security interests. And if he certifies that, then any court hearing our challenge will have to hold a private hearing in which the court considers whether or not to allow the evidence to be produced in court. And in that process the statute directs the Judge to give primary weight to the conclusive certificate of the Attorney, which looks … as though it gives him the chance to stymie the process of examining the basis for the report."

Around October 31st 2005, ASIO chief, Paul O'Sullivan, acknowledged that Scott Parkin was not involved in any violent activity in Australia. Despite this acknowledgement, the reasons for Scott Parkin's deportation remain unknown.

[cobbled together from, “Scott Parkin"; and, “Australia Revokes Scott Parkin’s Visa”]


Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Govt to discuss rejection of sedition provisions (ABC) "
The Federal Coalition is expected to discuss over the coming two days a Senate committee recommendation to scrap sedition offences from the counter-terrorism legislation. The Federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock has rejected a call by a government-led committee to remove the sedition provisions from the legislation. ... Labor's Peter Garrett says Mr Ruddock cannot ignore the recommendation, which he says is based on overwhelming evidence. "This Senate committee and its bipartisan report means that they have listened very closely to the wide range of views - legal views, view from the arts community from media representatives - that there is no place for sedition laws of this kind in legislation," he said. "Mr Ruddock as Attorney-General is simply completely out of step." The Government and Labor say they want the counter-terrorism measures passed in the next two weeks.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Sedition provisions to remain: PM (The Age) -
Prime Minister John Howard has ruled out removing sedition clauses from the government's counter-terrorism package, despite warnings they could limit free speech by the opposition and Labor premiers.

Their concerns were echoed today by legal and human rights groups at a Senate committee hearing on the anti-terror bill.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Proof new law not needed (The Age) -
The use of existing laws in this week's terror arrests shows police don't need a swathe of new powers.

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Surprise: "it would be a foolhardy party leader or premier who would continue to raise objections to the new counter-terrorism laws, with the threat of a terrorist attack hanging ominously overhead..." (ABC TV News)

Bracks joins anti-terrorism bill backers (ABC) - "Victorian Premier Steve Bracks will tell Prime Minister John Howard that he will sign up to national counter-terrorism laws today. New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma now says he is ready to back the new laws and Queensland Premier Peter Beattie believes he could also do a deal. The Federal Government needs the support of at least four of the states in order to implement the laws."

PM 'excluding' ACT from anti-terrorism bill talks (ABC) - "ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope says Prime Minister John Howard has once again excluded him from further negotiations around the draft anti-terrorism legislation."

PM fast-tracks terror laws (The Age) (ABC story here) - Prime Minister John Howard says Australian intelligence authorities have received specific information about a terrorist threat in Australia and means to pass extraordinary legislation tonight.

Margo Kingston's web-diary has loads of press links and plenty of interesting commentary.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005
Solicitors-general urge anti-terrorism law changes (ABC online) - The State Labor Governments seem to have taken on a "softening" role. `Queensland Premier Peter Beattie has told Channel Nine the recommendations relate to constitutional and judicial issues, as well as the referral of powers to the Commonwealth and the implementation of the public interest monitor (PIM).'

Artists, journalists voice anti-terrorism laws concerns (ABC online) - Fears of a chill: `Australia's largest news organisations, Fairfax and News Limited, are teaming up to lobby the Government over the laws. A draft letter to the Government states: "The expansion of the sedition laws contemplated in this bill is the greatest threat to publication imposed by the Government in the history of the Commonwealth."'

Monday, October 31, 2005
PM Faces Pressure on Terror Laws (The Age) - State Premiers refuse to be rushed into approving the new draft of the anti-terror legislation. The timetable for introducing the bill into Parliament is now uncertain although Mr Howard would like it in this week (the same week as the IR laws!!)

See also the views of Labor MP Daryl Melham, who raises concerns about the retrospective nature of the laws.

Sunday, October 30, 2005
Sedition bill 'a threat to arts' - (The Sunday Age) Opposition spokesman for the arts and former Midnight Oil star Peter Garrett says the proposed law could catch writers and performers.

Saturday, October 29, 2005
Leaders reserve decision on anti-terror laws - the Government's latest draft of anti-terrorism legislation is being reviewed by State and Territory leaders this weekend. The latest draft contains confidentiality provisions that prevent Government leaders from publishing the draft of the laws.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Proposed legislation in Australia would make it a crime for one parent to tell the other that their child had been detained under anti-terror laws, a report says.

ASIO bungles swoop - "On Tuesday, Mr Daye will take Mr O'Sullivan and the Commonwealth Government to the District Court, seeking damages of up to $750,000 for a bungled swoop by ASIO agents and heavily armed police on his Mascot home. It is a story that anyone interested in the subject should read now. Under the proposed anti-terrorism laws, stories like Mr Daye's could not be told."

States approve new anti-terrorism laws - The state and territory leaders have reached an agreement with the Commonwealth over proposed anti-terrorism legislation.

Saturday, October 27, 1990

For site members: Ideas for blog sections

Links / posts /comments on any of the following:

Analysis of the legislation
1. What is it? / how does it work? / how will proposed legislation work? (Organized by topic? - 'sedition', proscription of 'terrorist' groups, new ASIO powers.)
2. Why is this concerning?

As for 1.: There's quite a lot of stuff in the law journals, say in the Melbourne University Law Review and a special edition last year of the University of NSW journal. The problem is that these are mostly only available through subscription services. Can you find something that's freely available?
Press clippings / links

People for people to write to (MPs: Federal and Victorian houses, upper/lower; press)

Note: Suggested Blog Structure

The order of the posts can be manipulated by changing their dates. As for structure, I'd only suggest that you adhere to good informational principles: put the brief overview stuff for busy people first, in-depth materials further down.


The Scott Parkin case is thouroughly documented here.