The Official Organ of LaborNET
The Official Organ of LaborNET
Free home delivery
Issue No. 123 21 December 2001  

The Unmaking of History
The new millennium has got off to an ominous start. The fireworks, circuses and self-congratulation of 2000 were a thing of the past and we were left with the task of redefining ourselves in a new era.


Interview: Braveheart
Labor Council secretary John Robertson looks back on a turbulent year and forward to a dynamic 2002.

International: Global Year in Review
Labourstart's Eric Lee gives his take on a year where the world changed forever.

Unions: A Year at the Barricades
2001 was a year when workers were forced to fight for what they once took for granted.

Technology: Unions Online 2001
Social Change Online's Mark McGrath looks at the advances unions made in web development in 2001.

Republic: Terror Australis
ARM national director James Terrie asks where to now for the Republic?

Economics: 2001: Annus Horribilis
Frank Stilwell looks back at a troubled year and looks forward to the challenges for the labour movement.

Campaign Diary: Melanie and Me
Strewth's Steve Cannane went into the viper's nest on election night and emerged with an ordinary feeling.

Politics: Tony Moore's Final Word
Wide boys, spivs, spin doctors and hereditary idiots have hijacked a once great Australian institution.

Review: You Are the Weakest Program
Cultural theoritician Mark Morey deconstructs the televisual subplots of our collective consciousness.

Legal: The New McCarthyism
The �war on terrorism� declared in the wake of the American events of September 11 dramatically threatens Australian democratic life.


 Unions Take Lead in Refugee Rethink

 Workers Christmas Wish List

 Sparkie Snares Organiser of the Year Title

 Bosswatch Gets International Attention

 Bank Workers Get Serious in 2002

 Qantas's Warfare Agenda Exposed

 Cabin Crew Stand Up for Themselves

 Win for Medibank Workers

 City Council's Tactics Rival Worst in the World

 Dynamic New Start for Musos

 Unions in the Mosh Pit

 Scholarship Opportunity


The Soapbox
Into the Crystal Ball
What will happen in 2002? We asked some of the players in the world of industrial relations to look into the crystal ball.

The Locker Room
The 2002 Workers Online Sports Awards
There may have been no Olympics, but there were some stellar performances in 2001, from madass bad boys to terminated talents, these are the big ones.

Trades Hall
Neale Towart's Labour (Year in) Review
Sporting a Costa crew-cut, a new look Neale looks back on some issues of 2001 that look likely to the centres of debate for unions in 2002.

Tool Shed
Tool of the Year? You're Standing In It
After a year when Australians brought out the worst in themselves, we all stand condemned for a stint in the Tool Shed.

 A Fair Go For All
 The First Bastion
 Tom Collins' Christmas Wish
About Workers Online
Latest Issue
Print Latest Issue
Previous Issues
Advanced Search

other LaborNET sites

Labor Council of NSW
Vic Trades Hall Council
IT Workers Alliance
Unions on LaborNET
Evatt Foundation

Labor for Refugees




The New McCarthyism

By Rowan Cahill

The "war on terrorism" declared in the wake of the American events of September 11 dramatically threatens Australian democratic life.


Rowan Cahill

Civil liberties are in the line of fire. Aiming the gun is an increasingly repressive state.

The increasing militarisation of Australian law enforcement, and proposals announced by the Howard government to give the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) powers to detain people without charge, and to interrogate them without the presence of legal representation, are part of the process.

In the case of ASIO, this is especially alarming given its fifty-year history of suspecting and intimidating many hundreds of thousands of trade unionists, political workers, dissidents, and concerned citizens to the left of the Liberal Party, as being un-Australian.

Indeed I am one of these. I am the subject of ASIO File C/58/63, which started in 1967 and grew at the rate of about 50 file pages per year. Because of legislation limiting access to secret documents until after the passage of thirty years, this file is available for public scrutiny in the Australian Archives only to the end of 1970 (Series A6119/90, Item 2749).

I won't be able to check current ASIO interest in myself until 2031, by which time I'll possibly be gaga or chatting in another dimension with Jack London, Upton Sinclair, and Rupert Lockwood.

According to Dr. Jude McCulloch in the latest issue of the respected journal OVERLAND (Summer 2001), there has been a trend since the mid-1970s in English-speaking democracies to militarise law enforcement at the expense of civil liberties. McCulloch lectures in Police Studies at Deakin University, and is author of BLUE ARMY: PARAMILITARY POLICING IN AUSTRALIA (Melbourne University Press, 2001).

During the post-Cold War period, intensive campaigns by democratic governments against drugs, organised crime, and terrorism have seen the military increasingly integrated with internal security, policing militarised, and more resources allocated to agencies involved in intelligence gathering on citizens. These are the sorts of measures traditionally associated with repressive political regimes.

Australia has been part of this trend since the raft of counter-terrorist arrangements announced in the wake of the 1978 Sydney Hilton bombing.

As Dr. McCulloch points out, many of the Fraser government's counter-terrorist measures in 1978 had been secretly planned well before the Hilton bombing, giving rise to informed speculation that the bombing was in fact perpetrated by elements in Australia's security community to enhance their power and prestige.

Since then Australia has developed counter-terrorist paramilitary police who train with the military; confrontation and high levels of violence have become part of policing; fatal shootings by police have increased dramatically.

Protesters are increasingly portrayed as an enemy to be confronted, an 'enemy within', and not as citizens who may be breaking the law and subject to arrest and charge.

In 1997 it was revealed that Victorian police had spied on and infiltrated civil libertarian and left-leaning community organisations. The Chief Commissioner of the time argued that experience showed that "apparently innocuous groups are (sometimes) fronts for terrorist activities overseas".

Amendments to the Australian Defence Act put in place for the Sydney 2000 Olympics pave the way for the Federal government to call out troops to combat industrial disputes and political demonstrations.

As Dr. McCulloch explains, the definition of "terrorism" is slippery and very political. For example during the South African Apartheid era, Nelson Mandela was regarded as head of a terrorist organisation, and similarly regarded by a succession of Australian governments; so too was Xanana Gusmao for much of Indonesia's occupation of East Timor. Now both men are regarded internationally, and in Australia, as political figures of considerable stature and authority.

There are serious implications in this for the trade union movement, since a number of Australian unions prominently, and against great pressures to the contrary, financially and morally supported Mandela and Gusmao during their alleged terrorist days.

In the current anti-terrorist climate such support woulf be classified as aiding 'terrorism' and incur the full wrath of the police state.

Dr McCulloch issues a timely warning: "In the same way that social justice aspirations and anti-war sentiment were associated with communism (during the Cold War), such sentiments will be equated with terrorism during the new war: anti-terrorism is set to be the new McCarthyism".


*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 123 contents

*   Email this page to a friend

Search All Issues | Latest Issue | Previous Issues | Print Latest Issue

© 1999-2002 Workers Online
Workers Online is a resource for the Labour movement
provided by the Labor Council of NSW
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005

Powered by APT Solutions
Labor Council of NSW Workers Online