Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Scoop, Exclusive & All That Jazz

This week's Sunday Age reported that:

Police and ASIO could move before Christmas to impose restrictions on terrorist suspects, with the Howard Government urging authorities to take "the first available opportunity" to use the new anti-terror powers.

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock [who, let us not forget, owns an Amnesty International Badge] last night told The Sunday Age it was "quite possible" the new control orders would be used as soon as the legislation was passed in December.

Like Michelle Grattan and a few others, I've been wondering what all the rush is for. I spoke to a mate about it, and he got onto someone who knew someone and so on, right up to the someone who had access to the back of a photocopier in Parliament House. I'd say more, but us citizen journalists have to protect our sources, just like the professionals do.

The upshot of it is that I've actually seen a copy of the revised anti-Terrorism Bill which will actually be going to parliament. There are some interesting revisions beyond the removal of the "shoot to kill" power which got all the State Premiers in a flap. For example:

seditious intention means an intention to effect any of the following purposes:
(a) to bring the Sovereign into hatred or contempt;
(b) to urge disaffection against the following:
(i) the Constitution;
(ii) the Government of the Commonwealth;
(iii) either House of the Parliament;
(c) to urge another person to attempt, otherwise than by lawful means, to procure a change to any matter established by law in the Commonwealth;
(d) to promote feelings of ill-will or hostility between different groups so as to threaten the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth.
(e) to bring a great Australian cultural icon into hatred or contempt.

There's some other sections specifying what a great Australian cultural icon is: basically it's any person or thing that has been declared a great Australian cultural icon by the government of the day. The Bill, if passsed, will give the government the power to declare anyone or anything a great Australian cultural icon by regulation, signed by the Governor in Council and published in the Commonwealth Gazette. There's also a schedule giving an extensive list of the great Australian cultural icons that will be regulated for immediately the bill is passed. They include Aeroplane Jelly, Anzac Biscuits, Arnott's Tim Tams, Sir Donald Bradman, Burkean Conservatism, Ita Buttrose, the Easter Bunny, Four 'n' Twenty Pies, Delta Goodrem, a Hard-Earned Thirst, The Hills Hoist, the Liberal Tradition of John Stuart Mill, Sir R G Menzies, Ramsay Street, Santa Claus, Simpson, Simpson's Donkey, Summer Bay, the Tooth Fairy, Vegemite and, of course, the Victa Motor Mower.

So there it is: if the Government gets the bill through in its revised form, that will put paid to politically correct, Santa-deficient Christmases once and for all.

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