In this fourth part of his six part series on Australian fascism, Dr George Venturini considers how the State keeps citizens in a constant state of fear to ensure compliance and docility.
[Read Part One]
[Read Part Two]
[Read Part Three]
SUB-TROPICAL FASCISM ― THE AUSTRALIAN WAY
A STATE OF FEAR
THE STATE lives on fear.
Today, it is the fear of ‘terrorists’ — which is a manufactured threat, meant to scare people into handing over their rights and dignity to the tricksters in power.
“Our twentieth century is the century of fear,” wrote Camus in his article ‘The century of fear’, for Combat, the newspaper which had supported the French Resistance to Nazi occupation during the Second World War. Camus said that fear could be regarded as a developed science, and that “its perfected technology threatens the entire world with destruction.” The time ? November 1946.
The truth of that statement came to fruition in the last century, but it has taken on new meaning since the 11 September 2001 attacks, especially when one considers the mindless reaction — engineered and orchestrated by individuals at the highest levels of the United States Government, who are interested in making the 21st century just as fearful and war-like as the last. 9/11 was obviously no ordinary event. It created a state of suggestibility in the American people, which is one of the means of indoctrinating ordinary people both religiously and politically. America was not always so ugly as it is today.
In his State of the Union address on 6 January 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed four fundamental freedoms that people “everywhere in the world” ought to enjoy:
1. Freedom of speech and expression;
2. Freedom of worship;
3. Freedom from want; and
4. Freedom from fear.
Present day Australia has secured – more or less – the first three. As for the fourth, Alan Renouf, one of Australia’s most experienced diplomats, felt bound to give the title The Frightened Country to his memoirs of Australian foreign policy. He published the work in 1979 upon his return from Washington where he had been a well respected ambassador. His thesis was that an “unreasoning fearfulness” sits at the heart of Australia’s relations with the world. The country lives in fear of its neighbourhood. That fear has several deep consequences for the way Australia conducts itself.
The White Australia Policy, built on anger at the Chinese who had come to Australia during the gold rushes of the second half of the 19th century, came to a political head in 1888. Of the 40,721 Chinese who had come to Australia, accounting for a peak of just 3.3 per cent of the national population, 36,049 eventually left. This was Australia’s experience of the so-called Asian hordes. It was a defining moment for the country’s social and political evolution. The Chinese lingered in the collective national consciousness as the alien masses for which Australia has spent the rest of its history anxiously scanning the horizon.
Upon Federation, Australia incorporated the same ‘values’ of racial superiority and exclusion.
The White Australia Policy was one of the founding principles of the Commonwealth, encouraged by the newly formed Labor Party and expressed in legislation as the first act of the new Federal Parliament in 1901.
In the previous century, after Tasmanian Aborigines started to resist the wholesale invasion of their fertile lands, the largely benign descriptions of ‘the natives’ gave way to derogatory descriptions which likened them to wild animals. Indigenous Australians were to continue to be treated as less than human, murdered, mistreated — and their children taken from the families. The ‘race’ was a ‘problem’ which required a ‘solution’. Does that sound familiar?
‘Invasion anxiety’ has been one of the most powerful, subliminal forces in Australian life. It has always had racial overtones and is often expressed most forcefully by the same people – and governments – who deny that Indigenous Australians are entitled to recognition as the original owners of this country and recompense for what has been taken from them. It has been revived recently when it has informed the imposition of a brutal detention regime on those people seeking asylum in Australia from the ravages that Australians have brought to their countries: Afghanistan and Iraq, in particular.
Domestic peace was very early a victim of the ‘Queen’s peace’, which led, amongst other causes, to the enactment of harsh penalties for non-conformists and to the conviction of Henry Seekamp for seditious libel over the Eureka Rebellion in 1854; the conviction of 13 trade union leaders of the 1891 Australian shearers’ strike for sedition and conspiracy; and the action against radical Harry Holland, gaoled for two years in 1909 over his advocacy of violent revolution during the Broken Hill miners’ strike.
During the first world war sedition laws were used against those who opposed conscription and war, in particular the Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.). In 1916, members of the I.W.W. in Perth were charged with sedition, including 83 year old Montague Miller — known as the grand old man of the labour movement. Miller was released after serving a few weeks of his sentence, but was re-arrested in 1917 in Sydney at the age of 84 and sentenced to six months gaol with hard labour at Long Bay Gaol on the charge of belonging to an unlawful association. The ‘Sydney Twelve’ were all charged and convicted with various offences, including sedition.
On 10 December 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed and adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Nowadays, December 10 is celebrated as International Human Rights Day — but the heart is not there. Australians, insular and educationally limited, see themselves as inhabiting ‘the best country in the world’; the best in the synonymous ‘Southern Hemisphere’.
In theory, Australians are unequivocally opposed to human rights abuses. Those who know and care will condemn the governments of other countries where human rights abuses occur, while simultaneously living indifferently towards human rights abuses occurring in their own backyard. In fact many individuals would be incensed at the suggestion and reject the notion that human rights abuses are routinely occurring in Australia.
For Australians, the expression ‘human rights abuses’ conjures up a range of images including torture in Abu Ghraib, or at Guantánamo, or human trafficking in Asia, or honour killings in Muslim communities, and the detention of political prisoners living under repressive regimes. Australians associate abuses of human rights with corrupt governments, lawless lands and absolute poverty. The people they imagine as victims are rarely white: these people come from other lands, particularly African, Middle Eastern and Asian countries.
In March 1949, Lance Sharkey, then General-Secretary of the Communist Party of Australia, was charged that he had uttered the following seditious words:
"If Soviet Forces in pursuit of aggressors entered Australia, Australian workers would welcome them. Australian workers would welcome Soviet Forces."
Australians who could articulate some ‘key facts’ would say, not without some boasting, that in their country all people – Australians and non-Australians alike – are treated equally before the law; that the Australian legal system is based on the concept of the rule of law, and that in all cases defendants are considered to be innocent until proven guilty beyond all reasonable doubt. Let it be said immediately: this is not so — and it hardly ever was so. There was always present an urge for “the comfortable to disavow the needy” – as Galbraith would put it – making it easier to imagine that defects of character or culture rather than economic history cause disadvantage.
Now, more than ever, there is an implicit assumption that a person charged is inevitably guilty. Intellectually, corrupt media fuel that prejudice. Due process, legal aid, ‘not guilty’ verdicts and sentences which take account of mitigating circumstances are seen as ‘mollycoddling’ the criminals. In other words, never mind the evidence, just focus on the possibility — the kleptocracy excluded, of course.
The State police may not be much loved, but are thought of as responsible for keeping peace – which is the Queen’s peace – in the community and bringing before the court people they believe have broken the law. There is also a national police force – the Australian Federal Police − which investigates offences against Federal laws — including drug trafficking, illegal immigration, crimes against national security and crimes against the environment.
To foster understanding about, and protection of, human rights and to address human rights concerns, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission was established in 1986 as an independent statutory organisation reporting to the federal parliament through the Attorney-General. An Australian Crime Commission was established in January 2003 as an independent statutory body to work nationally with federal, state and territory agencies, principally to counter serious and organised crime. Combating transnational crime and terrorism is also a high priority for Australia, and extradition and mutual assistance are key tools in that fight. International cooperation ensures that criminals cannot evade justice simply by crossing borders. Australia has formal extradition arrangements with more than 120 countries. Such arrangements are part of an extensive range of treaties, which are the formal instruments of international law.
All this conjures up the picture of a law abiding country. Not so.
Increasingly, during the past thirty years at least, the U.N. Human Rights Committee has found on several occasions that Australia has breached the fundamental human rights of people living in Australia, and the Committee has heard some fifty complaints against Australia. In seventeen of those cases, the Committee found that Australia violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
While some Australians find it embarrassing or outrageous that a foreign tribunal can sit in judgment of Australia, Australia alone among the so called ‘western democracies’ does not have a Bill of Rights so courts cannot hear complaints about human rights violations.
Some laws have been enacted to protect human rights and the rudimentary Constitution of Australia has been found by the High Court − quite laboriously − to contain certain implied rights. Australia has been criticised − quite bitterly, but in vain − for its past and present treatment of the Indigenous People.
It is not a sufficient explanation that the majority of Australians enjoy some economic prosperity and they and the governments may be blind to the failure of the laws to protect human rights. Every day, there are too many examples of people being denied their lawful human rights and, as a result, living disadvantaged lives in unnecessary hardship.
No government in Australia is exempt from the charge of exploiting the community’s fears about crime and almost all levels of government have attempted to exploit such fear of crime for political advantage.
There is plenty of evidence that the large network of Australian civilian and military ‘intelligence’ and security agencies, both domestic and overseas, do not exist to safeguard ordinary people. Their function is to terrorise and intimidate the public, especially political opponents of the ruling establishment. From the gaoling of militants during the First World War to the Petrov Affair of the early 1950s and the Hilton Hotel bombing in 1978, those agencies have a long history of dirty tricks and frame-ups directed against left-wing activists, trade unionists and people branded as ‘Marxists’.
From time immemorial, confessions have been extracted from prisoners under interrogation. The High Court felt compelled in two cases, Williams v. The Queen (1986) 160 CLR 171 and McKinney v. The Queen (1991) 171 CLR 468, to limit police questioning and require judges to warn juries of the dangers of convicting on the basis of a confession alone. State and Federal laws were then passed specifically to authorise police interrogations, subject to video-taping. But studies have since shown that video-taping is no guarantee against the planting of evidence and concoction of false confessions.
Through other means, the Australian Federal Police and other federal agencies have been known to abuse human rights: phone-tapping, bugging, computer hacking, tracking and optical devices to monitor and gather information. In October 1997, the Melbourne Age newspaper revealed that the Victorian Police Special Branch of the Liberal Government of Jeff Kennett had illegally monitored and maintained files on political activists and organisations, and infiltrated political and community groups. The previous Cain Labor Government claimed to have disbanded the Special Branch in 1983, but simply replaced it with the Operation Intelligence Unit. Since renamed the Security Intelligence Group, it continued to carry out political surveillance, including of Islamic associations, radical parties, refugee action groups and animal liberation organisations.
Over the past twenty years at least, a veritable fever of penal ‘reform’ gripped the State governments, usually in the heat of election ‘auctions’ designed to demonstrate that the purveyors of the policies were definitely not ‘soft’ on crime. ‘Labor’ governments were particularly sensitive to being tagged with that label and moved dramatically away from more progressive policies, which had previously characterised their approach to criminal justice.
Under attack from the Opposition or radio shock-jocks, ministers may feel there is no option but ‘to talk tough’, reassuring themselves that unless they make compromises to ‘penal populism’, they will lose power and, with it, the chance to make beneficial changes to the system.
The beginning of this era of ‘penal populism’ in Australia appears to have been the 1988 New South Wales election which was marked by a ‘bidding war’ on the introduction of tough new penalties. The result was the so-called ‘truth in sentencing’ legislation, which dramatically inflated the prison population. From this point, and with the media pouring high octane fuel on politically malleable fears, a cycle of increasingly punitive policing and punishment took hold. By the 1990s, the promise of tougher sanctions to protect people from crime had become an obligatory element in every suite of policies presented to the voters at state elections. ‘Law-and-order’ has risen inexorably from being judged a relatively low-order problem to one of the top three or four needing political attention.
In the lead up to the 1998 election, Prime Minister Howard raised the ‘law-and-order’ issue − which is usually the province of the states − calling for harsher punishments and even accusing judges of being ‘soft’ on crime. New South Wales’ then Premier Bob Carr adopted a punitive rhetoric previously associated with conservative figures, saying, amongst other things, that “hoodlum patrols would reclaim the streets for our citizens and make them safe again.” Drug traffickers, he later promised, would “die in gaol”.
Western Australia was the first State to introduce a form of the now notorious mandatory sentencing initially popularised in the United States. And soon the others followed, in a mechanistic growing disdain for rehabilitation and intolerance.
Sloganeering as a substitute for thought, and logic, and human solidarity, and ‘a programme’, became the norm. Entire classes of Australians were abused and humiliated − called “dole bludgers” − those forced to rely on unemployment compensation, “welfare cheaters”. The governments − all of them, including the present Gillard Government − seem intent on pushing a punitive agenda rather than one with the goal of providing improved opportunities for those in receipt of financial assistance. The accent is on punishing rather than encouraging; frightening rather than encouraging. The slogan ‘work for the dole’ is still supposed to turn passive recipients of unemployment benefits into active job seekers — or else. The recipients of benefits are amongst the most disadvantaged in every sense —including in access to the media. Indeed, they are more likely to be humiliated than assisted. When everything else fails, they could be referred to as ‘job snobs’, who do not want to work. At mid-April 2011, the ‘Labor’ Prime Minister told the jobless to “pull their weight”. Sound familiar?
This, of course, appeals to the ‘contented classes’ − who would never doubt that their highly paid, occasionally, extravagantly paid, emoluments are by definition well deserved − as against the low paid jobs of the working poor, who are a fraud of the first order on the community.
There are, it seems, no active union organisers — only “union thugs”. In 1998, during a protracted waterfront dispute, the Australian stevedoring workers were accused of costing the economy billions of dollars a year and denying others jobs. They were held responsible for “damaging Australia’s reputation as a reliable supplier of goods.” The Minister for Industrial Relations constantly asserted that the Union was “holding the country to ransom, used bully boy tactics, had undue influence on work practices, and had a ‘stop-at-nothing approach’.” The Howard Government, proceeding on that assumption — no doubt carefully tested in publicly funded opinion polling, knew very well that, simply to mention the word ‘wharfies’ to some Australians would cause them to run in fear. The Minister thought nothing of importing balaclava-clad scabs fully trained in Dubai and assisted by assault dogs to be unleashed against the waterfront workers.
There are “illegals” — assigned to a class of non-persons. If somebody disagrees and organise that disagreement s/he is assigned the label which is meant to silence her/him or discredit her/his views. Media hired pens or mouths profitably join in to propagate insults, denigrating dissenters as “bleeding hearts” or members of the “chattering classes”, or of the “Aboriginal industry”.
After the aggression on Afghanistan and Iraq, when asylum seekers began to arrive by whatever means, they were officially branded as “illegals”. This is presently the language of the average Australian — thanks to irresponsible shock-jocks and rabid ‘journalists’.
A climate of political fear, inaugurated by Menzies and perfected by Howard was not abandoned − only reworded as ‘border protection’ − by the Rudd/Gillard Governments. Thus victims came to be blamed for their own conditions. From that to religious bigotry the step became almost ‘natural’. Not only that — the perpetrators of that infamy turned themselves into defenders of Muslim women in Afghanistan!
In the meantime, in Australia, Muslim migrants from India or intending-migrant- university-full-fee-paying students in particular, have experienced frequent antagonism, regular racial slurs, and violence, all of which has resulted in great distress to them and a financial crisis for the ‘education industry’.
With recurring frequency, members of the Muslim community are being told ‘to shape up’ or ‘clear out’ and to ensure the teaching of ‘Australian values’ in their schools or risk losing their funding.
Nor were Australian subjects immune from such attitude. Such uncouthness is not only directed to ‘different’, ‘illegal’ − generally unwanted − persons. There are countless stories, too, of the intimidation of public servants in the Commonwealth Government.
The politicisation of the once-public service has become so pervasive that ‘public servants’ zealously anticipate government directives and protect ministers from reasonable scrutiny —and all for fear of what is ‘different’.
Ministerial responsibility is regarded as a quaint, ancient, relic of more naive times.
Ms Cornelia Rau is a case in point: she is a German citizen and Australian permanent resident who was unlawfully detained for a period of ten months in 2004 and 2005 as part of the Australian Government’s mandatory detention programme. Suffering from schizophrenia, she disappeared from a Manly Hospital in March 2004, and, in February 2005, it was revealed that she had been detained at Brisbane Women’s Correctional Centre, a prison, and later at Baxter Detention Centre, after being classified as a suspected illegal immigrant or non-citizen by the Immigration Department when, under a crisis, she refused to reveal her true identity. Her detention became the subject of a government inquiry, which was later expanded to investigate over 200 other cases of suspected unlawful detention by the Australian Government’s Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs. Ms Rau currently lives in Adelaide.
Ms Vivian Alvarez Solon, an Australian, suffering mental and physical health problems, was unlawfully removed to the Philippines, where she was born, by the same Department in July 2001. In May 2005, it became public knowledge that she had been deported, although the Department knew of the initial mistake in 2003, but failed to act. After the ordeal, Ms Solon was able to return to Australia in November 2005.
In each case an overwhelmingly damning report was delivered to Parliament.
In both cases the ‘responsible’ ministers refused to accept any responsibility at all on the grounds that they did not know anything about the incidents investigated in the reports. Prime Minister Howard had deliberately ‘abused’ the wording and effect of the doctrine of ministerial responsibility which was that “for every act or neglect of his Department a minister must answer.” Middle level public servants would suffer for what was obviously the consequence of a relentless government campaign to demonise and expel ‘unlawful non-citizens’.
After the outrages on 11 September 2001 in the United States, the Howard Government was quick in proposing legislation to justify further police-state powers. And from then on – and after the October 2002 Bali bombings, the March 2004 Madrid train bombings, the July 2005 London Underground bombings and countless others – there has been an escalation of measures restricting civil liberties. The Australian Government has been ratcheting up the so-called ‘war on terror’, hoping to foment fresh fears and insecurities to divert from its mounting political problems. The Howard Government ‘national security’ minister, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock, submitted to Parliament bill after bill for acts which further violated human rights.
At mid-2003, and with the support of the Labor Party, the Howard Government succeeded in pressing the Australian Parliament to approve an unprecedented piece of legislation giving the government’s political police the sort of arbitrary power normally associated with fascist regimes or military juntas.
In Opposition, and in eleven years in Government, Howard was a deft handler of the Australian populace. He knew their fears and phobias and he was masterful in playing on them, deploying them, managing them, manoeuvring them. He did two things. He prodded their fears, and then he offered them reassurance. He inflamed and then soothed, supplied the anxiety and also the temporary solution. He lasted that long because he was the ‘real’ Australian.
There was hardly anything new in this technique. During the long sixteen years of previous ‘anti-Labor’ regime – the Menzies’ years, 1949 to 1966 – the language of fear had been adopted and perfected. Menzies had found ‘spiritual value’ in the Nazi regime and exalted it on his return from Germany in November 1938. The language is familiar. There were those who belonged and then those who were ‘different’: the Communist, the Jews, the Gypsies, the homosexuals, the mentally deficient — ‘the others’, in other words. After a fairly long period of Haw/Keating corporatist ‘Accord’ — to pacify the workers, Howard could resume the attack on ‘different’ Australians, and find skilled collaborators.
A leading stock exchange gambler, Hugh Morgan, one of the major supporters of the New Right agenda and the mining industry’s campaign against land rights for Black Australians, found a way of grounding on divine authority – Christian, of course – that industry’s demands that it be allowed to mine on land claimed by Indigenous People as sacred. Even more bizarrely, he warned that if land rights were granted that would constitute a sanction of “infanticide, cannibalism and cruel initiation rights”. It would be a “step to the world of paganism, superstition, fear and darkness.” He had no restraint in plumbing the depths of such dark, racist fears. Howard said not a word — just sat on the side, comfortable and relaxed.
In the nineties, during the native title debates, Australians complacently heard that the original inhabitants of the continent should be treated as outsiders who threatened to appropriate “our” lands, invade “our” suburbs and “take what does not belong to them.” Some State premiers campaigned – successfully! – on such outrageous rubbish. On that ‘platform’, at the end of that decade, a comprehensively illiterate candidate obtained more than one million votes and was able to enter the Senate.
The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation now has had for almost ten years the power to detain and question people without charge or trial. A.S.I.O. and Federal Police officers can raid anyone’s home or office, at any hour of the day or night, and forcibly take one away, strip-search her/him, interrogate and hold her/him incommunicado, for all practical purposes indefinitely.
The initial empowering Act and the many which followed represent a fundamental assault on basic human rights. They give the security and intelligence agencies unfettered arbitrary and repressive power, marking a dramatic step towards the implementation of authoritarian rule. A person has no right to know why s/he is being picked up for interrogation. If s/he resists, force, including lethal force, may be used. If s/he refuses to answer any question or hand over any material that A.S.I.O. alleges s/he possesses, s/he faces five year’s gaol. A detainee, including teenagers as young as 16, is unable to contact her/his families, friends, political associates or the media. In effect, one can be kidnapped by the secret police without anyone’s knowledge. If one knows the name of a lawyer, s/he may contact her/him for legal advice, but only if A.S.I.O. does not object to the lawyer. Initial detention can last for up to seven days, including three eight-hour blocks of questioning over three days, but the Attorney-General can easily approve further seven-day periods. To justify serial extensions, A.S.I.O. and the government simply need to claim that ‘additional or materially different’ information has come to light.
Almost simultaneously, all States, which were then all governed by ‘Labor’, responded by enacting complementary legislation, handing over the State’s anti-terrorism powers to the Howard Government, and with the enthusiastic support of the ‘Liberal’ Party, of course. Mirroring acts enabled the police to obtain warrants to enter any premises, by force or impersonation if necessary, to search and seize anything without the knowledge of any occupier or owner. The New South Wales Government had led the way, so to say. In Victoria, the second most populous State, the government had legislation enacted which gives the State police the power – for the first time – secretly to enter, search and ‘bug’ homes, as well as forcibly to enter and search premises. In Queensland, the ‘Labor’ Premier was moved to giving ‘serious consideration’ to 50 Crime and Misconduct Commission recommendations, which included allowing police to conduct covert searches without warrants.
More illiberal provisions followed at the end of 2003, when the Federal Government was able – with the concurrence of Labor – to have legislation passed which effectively forbade all public protest against, or even reporting of, the use of the new detention and interrogation powers of A.S.I.O. It is now a crime, punishable by up to five year’s gaol, publicly to mention any operation involving A.S.I.O.’s unprecedented powers to detain and interrogate people without charge, simply on the allegation that one may have information relating to terrorism.
The very fact that someone has been detained cannot be discussed publicly for up to 28 days, until after the detention warrant expires. No other information about the detention can be disclosed for two years. Moreover, even if A.S.I.O. itself breaks the law, for example by detaining someone for more than seven days without obtaining a new warrant, any journalist who reports the case could be imprisoned.
In effect, these measures outlaw political campaigns against arbitrary or illegal detentions.
A lawyer’s activity is also curtailed: the law prohibits a detainee or her/his lawyer from alerting the family, the media or anyone else that s/he has been detained.
As a result of more than two decades of unrelenting ‘law-and-order’ campaigns, Australians are far too ready to gaol people rather than seeking other forms of sentencing. Too many politicians have been seduced into a kind of ‘penal arms race’, and into implementing costly and ineffective policies. They have embraced penal populism, enacting policies which are based primarily on their anticipated popularity rather than their effectiveness.
Some eminent lawyers, and even the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, condemned the Howard Government’s Anti-Terrorism legislation as a violation of international human rights law, but Prime Minister Howard and the Australian State ‘Labor’ premiers stood together in favour of the repressive measures.
Centuries of political and social struggles have attempted to stop barbaric methods being employed by the State. Demands for strict limits on the powers of the formerly monarchical and absolutist state were at the centre of the great ‘bourgeois’ revolutions even in England in the seventeenth century, and in France and the United States in the eighteenth century. The struggle against such methods formed the basis of the liberal doctrines, based on the rights of the individual, associated with the rise of the bourgeoisie. But Australia has had no revolution – bourgeois or otherwise – and still has no Bill of Rights.
According to a recent Amnesty International survey, the techniques currently employed by various governments include
'...beating, whipping, burning, rape, suspension upside down, submersion into water almost to the point of suffocation, and electric torture with shocks of high voltage on various parts of the body, very often on the genitals.'
But those things happen elsewhere, ‘over there’. Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Guantánamo are ‘deplorable necessities’, and anyway beyond Australia’s control. Notions of complicity with a Great-And-Powerful-Friend are too esoteric for ignorant Philistines.
If the police transports a Black Australian for many hundreds of kilometres, on a hot day, in a van in which the temperature was estimated at 50 degrees Celsius, without windows, air and air conditioner, without ever stopping for the prisoner to relieve himself, without food or water, there is a mixture of disbelief, disapproval — suddenly set aside with a ‘dirty nigger’ comment ... and a promise by the State to investigate. It happened less than three years ago — hardly anyone has heard about it since.
There is more. To the above list of violent torture practices prepared by Amnesty International, the organisation was forced to add
'...psychological devices, including threats, deceit, humiliation, insults, sleep deprivation, blindfolding, isolation, mock executions, witnessing torture of others (including one’s own family), being forced to torture or kill others, and the withholding of medication or personal items.'
It should be emphasised — even sleep deprivation, because the Attorney-General of the Howard Government expressed the view that that is not a form of torture! And damned the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, both of which were ratified by Australia! Was the Attorney-General influenced by a well-known Harvard law professor’s call – after 9/11 – for United States judges to issue ‘torture warrants’?
Whatever the reason, the Attorney-General’s view might have encouraged two Australian academic lawyers openly to advocate torture in a paper published in 2005.
When governments become accustomed to abuse of power through the use of fear and amidst the populace’s indifference; there is no limit to what they may do. In June 2008, the ‘Labor’ Premier of New South Wales had no difficulty in introducing sweeping police powers further to suppress civil liberties during the month-long Catholic World Youth Day events in Sydney, culminating with a massive address by Pope Benedict XVI. By executive order and regulation, which established more than 600 ‘controlled areas’ throughout Sydney, Police were empowered in control areas to search members of the public, their vehicles and personal belonging and to arrest and fine those whose actions may be deemed offensive to Catholic pilgrims. The ‘controlled areas’ included some 500 Catholic and State schools; tertiary institutions, including the University of Sydney and University of New South Wales; public transport hubs; parks, including the Botanic Gardens and a major park; and cultural venues, including the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the State Theatre and the Sydney Opera House; a racecourse; and sporting venues.
Preventive detention and ‘control orders’ are the tools of fear-inducing State power.
One such ‘control order’ was imposed for the first time in 2006 on an unfortunate Melbournian. A recent convert to Islam, he was on a visit to Afghanistan in March 2001, six months before the 11 September attacks. A person of modest means in more ways than one, including financial, after the United States invasion he decided to accept cash from an al-Qaeda-linked individual to return to Australia. Caught by Pakistani Police and held prisoner for five months from January 2003, Pakistani, American and Australian intelligence and police officials tortured him in Pakistan, using all available physical and mental abuses.
Finally released without charge, he was delivered to the Australian Federal Police.
From mid-2003 he lived in Melbourne with his wife and children, under close surveillance by police and A.S.I.O., which suddenly arrested him in late 2004. The charge: terrorist activity. e was subjected to a ‘control order’ and, after 18 months, just as the Howard Government was preparing a further round of ‘anti-terrorist’ legislation, including provisions for closed trials, secret witnesses and media restrictions. His ordeal would end when, after six years of persecution, in October 2008, a Victorian Supreme Court jury acquitted him of all charges.
Presumption of guilt pervades certain aspects of criminal law in Australia and is unashamedly used by governments.
The case of former Solomon Islands’ Attorney-General Julian Moti, a Fiji-born Australian subject, is the most recent illustration of such bias.
Australia carries out a neo-colonial Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, with and official name of RA.M.S.I. Julian Moti was suspected with harbouring doubt about the ‘civilising function’ of R.A.M.S.I.
Between 1997 and 1999, allegations that Moti had sexually abused a 13-year-old girl were levelled against him in Vanuatu. The charges, however, were thrown out of court, with the magistrate describing the attempted prosecution as “unjust and oppressive” due to the absence of evidence and glaring inconsistencies and contradictions in the alleged victim’s statements. Local prosecutors did not appeal the decision and the issue was closed — until late 2004. Then the Australian High Commissioner to the Solomon Islands, dredged up the allegations as a means of preventing Moti from being appointed to the position of Solomons’ Attorney-General. The subsequent Australian Federal Police investigation served as the means for removing Moti from the Solomon Islands and the destruction of his legal career throughout the South Pacific. The Howard Government’s unrelenting pursuit of Moti formed part of its provocative ‘regime change’ campaign in 2006-07 against the Solomons’ government of Manasseh Sogavare, waged to sustain R.A.M.S.I.
Moti was unlawfully removed from the Solomons on 27 December 2007, by being taken from his home, bundled onto an airplane, flown to Brisbane where he was immediately arrested at the airport by waiting A.F.P. officers. The so called ‘deportation’ proceedings went ahead in violation of a local magistrate’s court ruling specifically prohibiting Moti’s ‘deportation’. Moreover, that amounted to a violation of the Solomon’s Deportation Act, which provides for a seven-day appeal period. All this occurred following the revocation of his position as Attorney-General by a pro-Australian Government, which was installed after Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare became victim of a protracted ‘regime change’ campaign. Such removal of Moti was nothing more than a ‘disguised extradition’ and not a deportation as the prosecution claimed before the Queensland Supreme Court, where Moti was standing trial – again – this time under the Australian child sex tourism laws. That such charge had been dismissed in Vanuatu a decade before counted for naught. As it turned out, the A.F.P. and the Director of Public Prosecutions violated Moti’s basic legal rights by withholding vital documents. His right to liberty was breached, his civil rights were breached, the rule of law was breached, he was illegally seized and taken to Australia, before he could lodge an appeal against the ‘deportation’, and the Australia Government was a knowing party to all of that.
Moti lost the case. He appealed and lost again.
At mid-April 2011, the High Court of Australia was called upon to consider whether the government turned a blind eye to the illegal rendition of Moti in 2007. The Court had granted special leave to hear the case and would also examine whether the payment of near AU$150,000 to the alleged victim and her family brought the administration of justice into disrepute. In fact, in February 2008 – under the new Rudd/Gillard ‘Labor’ Government – the Australian police began paying monthly sums of AU$1,290 to the alleged victim’s brother, AU$480 to her father, and AU$2,475 to her mother. These payments were made while the family continued to live in Vanuatu, where the minimum monthly wage was just AU$240. According to a November 2010, article in the Melbourne Age,
'...payments to the complainant and her family have reached at least AU$ 300,000 — double what was revealed in court in 2009.'
From the defence, the Court heard that 'Australian authorities assisted [Moti’s] unlawful rendition to Australia', by handing his new passport to Solomon Islands police, arranging his arrest in Brisbane and paying accommodation for the Solomon Islanders who escorted him. The defence also said that '[the A.F.P. agent] knew the deportation was unlawful'. The Court was also told that the “Australian ‘witness assistance’ payments to the alleged victim may have been an abuse of process.” Further, the defence submitted that
'The right-thinking person would correctly perceive a link between the political genesis of the prosecution, the means by which [Moti] was brought to the jurisdiction, and the extraordinary payments being made to keep the prosecution on foot.'
The Australian Government’s plan suffered a contretemps towards the end of March 2011 when the father of the victim confessed on his death-bed that his daughter had ulterior motives when she first accused Moti in 1997-98. And the motive? The 13-year-old girl, according to the father, had levelled the rape allegations against Moti to try to prevent the family, who are all Tahitian nationals, from being deported from Vanuatu for violating visa conditions. The father accused the A.F.P. of threatening his family — “if we did not cooperate it would go against us.” As a result, “fear was in the house.” Nevertheless, the A.F.P. offered inducements. He apologised to Julian Moti and his family, with whom he had been friends, declaring that neither he nor his wife would continue to cooperate with the attempted prosecution of Moti.
At the end of such revealing confession, the girl’s father said:
“We have all been battered by all this. ... The people who have pressed the button to start all this [were to blame].”
And he pointed the finger towards the Australian Government at the time.
On 15 December 2009, Justice Debbie Mullins of the Queensland Supreme Court ruled that there had been an abuse of process and stayed the indictment against Moti. She held that “questions about the integrity of the administration of the Australian justice system [arise] when witnesses who live in a foreign country, expected to be fully supported by the Australian Government until they gave evidence at the trial in Australia.”
On 7 December 2011, the High Court of Australia ordered a stay of charges, ruling that Australian officials' participation in Moti's extradition from the Solomons had been unlawful under Solomon Islands law. Summarising its ruling, the court said:
'Further prosecution of the charges would be an abuse of process because of the role that Australian officials in Mr Moti being deported to Australia.'
This was a permanent stay of prosecution putting an end to all court proceedings against Moti. Mr Manasseh Sogavare stated, in response to the ruling:
“I am so pleased. This matter has hung like a dark cloud over me and my government. This decision has vindicated me.”
On 12 June 2012, Mr Moti announced that he would sue the government.
Moti’s tribulations had begun under the Howard Government; they would continue under the Rudd/Gillard Government. Names might have changed, Australia’s ruthless neo-colonial interventions through the Southwest Pacific continue.
Yet, there is much fracas about ‘multiculturalism’ — a wonderful goal gone sour because people of scarce appreciation for culture can hardly be serious about multi-culture. In the hands of skilful manipulators, multiculturalism risks becoming a form of populist cretinism manoeuvred by Government Philistinism for electoral purposes. Almost every thinking person realises it. In reality, one should pay attention to some ‘necessary associations’ between ‘Middle Eastern thugs’, 'organised crime’, and 'drug trafficking’.
Members of what Galbraith called ‘the contented class’, John Howard’s ‘relaxed and comfortable’ kleptocracy, would not ‘inside trade’, of course, nor ‘consume’ other than for purpose of entertainment! Ça va sans dire!
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