(May 2003 - March 2007.) Tama's thoughts on the blogosphere, podcasting, popular culture, digital media and citizen journalism posted from a laptop computer somewhere in Perth's isolated, miniature, urban jungle ...

Howard Deflects Telstra Debacle with Terror

Thursday, September 08, 2005
As the bottom drops out of Telstra shares, Telstra's board admit its current state is far from brilliant, and the Prime Minister is in the thick of 'secret' meetings which he claims he couldn't reveal to the public or other Telstra shareholders (despite his deputy doing exactly that) it's hard not to be cynical about terrorism being put back on the agenda by Howard. The ABC in "PM outlines tougher anti-terrorism laws" outline the proposed changes:
Under the new measures, the Australian Federal Police will be able to seek court orders placing strict conditions on people considered a terrorist risk.
Mr Howard says the orders would be similar to apprehended violence orders but would allow stricter conditions, including tracking devices, and restrictions on where the suspects can travel and who they can associate with.
The orders would be issued for periods of 12 months.
There will also be new laws against inciting violence in the community and against Australian forces overseas.
The waiting period for citizenship will be extended from two to three years and can be refused on security grounds.
There will be new offences for leaving baggage unattended at major transport hubs and the Government will legislate to allow officials to stop and search suspects.
Inciting terrorist attacks would be an offence, while laws for financing terrorism would also be overhauled.
These are far-reaching laws which further erode the rights of Australian citizens in the name of security. It is noteworthy and worrying that many of these points sound ambiguous. And a criminal offense to leave a bag in public? I can't wait to see public restrooms suddenly being rennovated to allow even the largest luggage to be brought in!

As SBS note Howard's denials about deflecting attention from Telstra, they also note the buildup to bullying the states into submission on the new terror laws:
The proposals will be considered at a special summit of state and territory leaders later this month, called in the wake of the London bombings in July. Mr Howard denied he made the announcement to divert attention from Telstra's problems, saying state leaders need time to consider the proposals ahead of the September 27 meeting in Canberra. "I expect a lot of cooperation from the states on this," said the prime minister.
Have we learnt nothing from the mistakes of the US government? It would be nice to focus our energies on building better telcos, not invoking the terrorists every time the political waters get a bit rough!

Update (Friday, 9 Sept 2005, 00:30): Quite rightly, "Muslim leaders and civil liberties groups have attacked the Federal Government's counter-terrorism package."

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