Brandis "Own Goal" Record Finally Beaten
The federal government "has gone a bridge too far" with its sedition laws and is more interested in protecting itself than the Australian people, opposition leader Kim Beazley says.
With the Senate due to pass new counter terrorism legislation today, Mr Beazley said the Labor Party supported tough laws to help the struggle.
But he also said the government had gone too far with its sedition provisions within the legislation.
"We think the government has gone a bridge too far with its sedition laws," he told the Nine Network.
"It's now wandering around protecting itself, not the Australian people with sedition laws.
"We don't think you need to jail cartoonists, we do think we need to jail terrorists."
(The Age, Monday, November 6 2005)
Even the government agrees that its sedition laws are badly worded and has already promised to review them early next year.
But they are still demanding that the Seanate vote on them this week.
That is just as ridiculous as it sounds. Pass laws that everyone agrees are inadequate, then review them, then come back to Parliament to make changes.
Labour will vote to delete the sedition provisions from the anti-terrorism Bill and then subject them to a general review.
(Nicola Roxon, shadow Attorney-General in The Hun, Monday, November 6 2005)
Despite these lofty assurances, the ALP in the Senate voted with the government on Tuesday night. The Anti-Terrorism Bill 2005 was passed 53 to 7 after the government gagged debate. The sedition provisions in the Bill were passed unamended. So, having decided that it was more important to be seen to be tough on terrorism than tough on democratic freedoms, the Federal ALP handed the Government the power to declare it an unlawful association.
Here's how section 30 of the Commonwealth Crimes Act reads after the changes made in the Anti-Terrorism Act 2005:
- SECT 30A
(1) The following are hereby declared to be unlawful associations, namely:
(a) any body of persons, incorporated or unincorporated, which by its constitution or propaganda or otherwise advocates or encourages:
(i) the overthrow of the Constitution of the Commonwealth by revolution or sabotage;
(ii) the overthrow by force or violence of the established government of the Commonwealth or of a State or of any other civilized country or of organized government; or
(iii) the destruction or injury of property of the Commonwealth or of property used in trade or commerce with other countries or among the States;
or which is, or purports to be, affiliated with any organization which advocates or encourages any of the doctrines or practices specified in this paragraph;
(b) any body of persons, incorporated or unincorporated, which by its constitution or propaganda or otherwise advocates or encourages the doing of any act having or purporting to have as an object the carrying out of a seditious intention (see subsection (3)).
(2) Any branch or committee of an unlawful association, and any institution or school conducted by or under the authority or apparent authority of an unlawful association, shall, for all the purposes of this Act, be deemed to be an unlawful association.
(3) In this section: 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.
The new sedition laws (or if you prefer the same old sedition laws modernised) are to be reviewed by the Law Reform Commission next year. Kim Beazley had better hope that this results in at least those sections in bold being removed from the Crime Act: otherwise, the ALP might find itself at risk of being unable to campaign in the next election. After all, what is the business of an Opposition at election time, but to urge disaffection against the Government of the Commonwealth? And how does it do this? By running fundraisers to pay for advertising that urges disaffection against the Government of the Commonwealth, having its members letterbox and doorknock in their neighbourhoods urging disaffection against the Government of the Commonwealth and so on - all of them acts having or purporting to have as an object the carrying out of a seditious intention.
So Senator George Brandis can finally hand on his unwanted laurel for scoring "the greatest own goal in Australian politics" to a worthy successor - the very party that awarded him the accolade.