||Issue No. 132||19 April 2002|
Interview: Generation Next
Legal: We’re All Terrorists Now
Unions: Holding the Baby
International: Taking It To The Streets
History: Off the Wall
Economics: Financing International Development
Satire: Queen Mum's Life Tragically Cut Short
Review: Return of The People’s Parliament
Poetry: Silent Night
The Locker Room
Week in Review
Where's the Silver Tail?
We’re All Terrorists Now
The ACTU warned a senate committee this week that routine political and industrial activism could be criminalised as terrorism under the Howard Government's new security bill.
High on the ACTU's concerns were that the new law could be used to limit the civil liberties of union members, to work against union activism and to weaken unions.
Under the new law the activities that could be defined as a terrorist act includes any action or threat made with the intention of advancing a political, religious, or ideological cause. Acts include those involving harm to persons or property as well as acts which constitute a risk to the health or safety of a section of the public, or interference with an electronic system, including telecommunications, financial, essential services, public utilities or transport.
Under this definition finance sector workers who 'jam the fax" of their CEO, or telecommunications workers who ban repairs to faults could be deemed to have engaged in a terrorist act, punishable by life imprisonment.
Poor Protection of Industrial Activity And Activism
The ACTU regards the exemption of industrial action as inadequate. If the Bill becomes law, participating in an information picket involving a public utility, health provider or other essential service provider, would become punishable by life imprisonment.
Rallies such as the reconciliation marches, peace vigils, Palm Sunday walks, and reclaim the night marches would all be caught within the Bill. And punishable by life imprisonment!
There are also strict liability offences, also punishable by life imprisonment, for providing training in the use of firearms and explosives or for collecting or making a document connected with a terrorist activity.
A TAFE teacher providing training in explosives to miners would be vulnerable, as would the owner of a PC running distributed computing software. Academics researching terrorism would be liable for merely collecting a pamphlet produced by an organisation engaged in terrorist activity.
Another section of the bill gives power to the Attorney General to ban organisations if he is satisfied the organisation is committing terrorist acts, or is on the UN Security list of international terrorist organisations or the organisation is likely to endanger the security of the Commonwealth or another country.
Had this been law in Australia over the past two decades, it is possible that membership of organisations that supported the East Timor. Independence movement, or the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa could be deemed as endangering the security of another country, and thus be banned.
ACTU President Sharan Burrow says the bill jeopardises key tenets of the democracy it seeks to safeguard.
'These kind of laws have no place in a democratic society that respects human rights and if we as Australians were to abandon our commitment to such basic freedoms then terrorism will have won the day,' she says.
|Search All Issues | Latest Issue | Previous Issues | Print Latest Issue|
© 1999-2002 Workers Online