The Sunday routine of releasing puffy political pronouncements and policy positions is running riot.
Last Sunday (Oct 23) the PM released his position on cricket and got himself photographed standing next to Steve Waugh at the launch of the great man’s (Waugh, that is) autobiography.
The previous Sunday (Oct 16) Little Johnny emerged with Fabulous Phil Ruddock to announce that ASIO’s workforce would be doubled, which means that all those honours history graduates who previously were condemned to a life in the fast food industry can now enjoy commonwealth funded wages for spying on their fellow citizens.
The Sunday before (Oct 9) Little One celebrated his one year re-election anniversary by inviting his clients, i.e. business big wigs, to Canberra for a chat about his IR reforms, which he says will introduce previously unknown flexibility in the workplace.
This is Johnny at his hard-sell best, using the Sabbath to get a grip on the week’s agenda, with well-nigh uninterrupted coverage on mass-viewed Sunday night TV and into Monday’s tissues.
Additionally, any spot fires that arise late in the week have a good chance of being stamped out before the new week begins in earnest.
So it was when that damn leftie, Jon Stanhope – the Chief Minister of the ACT, posted on his web site the draft anti-terror legislation that he’d agreed to, after a brief hesitation, at COAG on the previous Friday afternoon.
By that Sunday’s press conference Little One had sharpened his lines and in his single-handed struggle against terror pitched his tiny self above the ruckus of domestic politics.
After all, he and Fabbo were only acting on expert recommendations in doubling the spooks’ network. As the PM saw it:
“Now I understand what Mr Stanhope is about, he’s not about informing the public, he’s about balancing his own political position.”
But alas, some of those in Sydney who have such great respect for the rule of law did have some concerns. On Monday morning the Ancient Golden Tonsils himself, John (“pompous, pillow-bitting, poofter”) Laws, had the attorney on the line and wanted to know how his rights might be changed by the new sedition regime:
“OK could you tell me this if I, on this radio program, say that a certain small percentage of a particular religious group are extremists and they should be sent back to their home country am I going to be gagged by the laws that you’ve got in mind?”
Fabbo assured the wizened campaigner against pillow-biting that, no he wouldn’t be gagged but personally the attorney would disapprove of such a statement, since once people become citizens they’re just as Australian as the next Australian.
Tonsils wasn’t deterred and strove for a better answer with a rephrased, if somewhat cock-eyed, question:
“OK, can I put this to you, if a radio broadcaster speaking totally hypothetically was to say well one percent of a particular group of extremist ratbags – that’s OK I presume is it?”
Fabulous Phil wasn’t keen about being backed into a corner about what the great spiritual leader of Sydney might or might not be able to say under the proposed sedition laws, so he declared that a definitive answer on these matters was beyond him since he doesn’t like to issue legal advice.
Still, he was more than happy to delve into the debate over whether the new shoot to kill provisions seek to extend current police powers under the Crimes Act.
Although the provision under the draft anti-terror legislation is the same as that in the Crimes Act there is the additional consideration that now it is expressed in the context of people being apprehended on preventative detention orders and where there need not be any evidence against them before the police are allowed to shoot them.
Fabbo rejected the argument of John North of the Law Council and insisted that nothing had changed. The shoot to kill amendment could have read, “you can use lethal force to either arrest or take into preventative detention” – but the provisions have been separated for clarity’s sake, said the AG.
Good to see he’s on top of the different evidentiary requirements between standard arrests and control orders. Frankly it would not surprise if this government was somewhat more in favour of shooting suspects against whom there was no evidence, as opposed to shooting those fleeing from a pile of evidence.
For balance, we should quickly get federal Labor’s position. Here’s Big Bad Bomber’s answer to Tony Jones on Lateline, Thursday (Oct 20).
“Well, I certainly think that that particular concern [shoot to kill], the Law Council ought to have an opportunity to present to the parliament. And they’d have that opportunity to present it to the parliament if you had a decent, intelligent, lengthy inquiry process by a bipartisan committee.”
What about a decent, intelligent opposition to stand up to Little One’s onward march of police-statism?
God help us.