Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Intelligence follies and Latham's new job

Scott Parkin's deportation from Australia was still managing to get media attention – though this was mainly due to John Faine, and at pretty much a local level through Faine's slot on ABC radio Melbourne 774 AM. All the same, the news is that the Inspector General of Intelligence will investigate ASIO's handling of Scott Parkin's case, and make a report to parliament.

After issues like Tampa, SIEV X and the misuse of intelligence to justify Howard's decision to take Australia to war in Iraq, I'm not confident we will get anything more than a whitewash. But at least it's kept the spotlight on Scott for that little bit longer. I'm reassured at least that now Julian Burnside QC is acting as Scott's barrister.

And all this attention despite the furor and feeding frenzy over Mark Latham's diaries. Since his appearance on Andrew Denton's Enough Rope was brought forward to avoid being scooped by another ABC TV show – the current affairs program Lateline – Latham has had a big stage on which to mouth off.

The media boils over in the scramble to cover Latham's 'expose' of the dirty politics of the ALP, the rubbishing that remaining ALP leaders are giving it, and the glee of Howard's government ministers at receiving their Christmas bonuses early this year – ALP blood on a dripping dagger.

In all the fun and games over the new book, I keep noticing one thing: Latham seems to be really enjoying 'just' being a 'home dad' – being home to actively raise his sons. Good on ya dad.

I've heard that journalists have asked Latham what he is 'really doing', what he 'plans to do next', whenever he insists that his main role now is to be 'home dad' (his words) – as if a man can't really opt to stay at home and care for his kids, that it must be just 'in-between' things, or that Latham is looking for something 'real' next – to rise from the ashes, as such. As I have said elsewhere, there are still cynics who doubt men who take the time and effort to father their children.

What can be more real than raising children?

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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Couldn't have said it better

This has been doing the rounds by email. Those feeling particular anguish for the victims of hurricane Katrina can take some small comfort in it.

I think it's either one of those cases of serendipity, or one of those small acts of defiance by a TV production tech or director. Or they just didn't get it.

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Back to stand up for something I believe

I thought a while ago that I would like to get back to blogging again - to writing social, cultural and political commentary again.

So much seemed to make me what to have a say, to speak out, yet made me feel that words – any self expression – was really so inadequate. The enormity of so much that was happening – the tsunami, the war in Iraq, the 'war on terror', the ill-treatment of assylum seekers in Australia, hurrican Katrina – made mouthing off in a blog that no one reads seem pretty dumb. A lot of the time, I didn't know where to start, how to capture what was happening, what I thought about it, or what could be done.

So, it took a while to come around to decide to start again.

The thing that clinched it was the news that ASIO (Australian Security Intelligence Organisation) had declared the visiting American peace activist Scott Parkin a 'threat to national security', and on that basis Immigration had revoked his visitor's visa and was about to deport him.

The Australian Federal Police arrested Scott on Saturday 10 September on his way to giving a workshop on non-violent direct action (he's a bit of a non-violence exponent, according to the activist chatter and media) in Melbourne. He has been in the Melbourne remand centre since then. The news is that Scott will be deported on Thursday 15 September.

What helped to galvanise me was John Faine's suggestion (the journalist on ABC's 774 Radio Melbourne who has probably
given the most coveraged to this story) that this was a litmus test – that the Australian government was waiting to see if we (the public) were going to jack-up about a peace activist being deported like this, and if not, it then signalled that the government could get away with its new security legislation.

The response in support of Scott has been great –
the left and peace activists have taken significant leadership on this, and it has not only galvanised me, but many others, to stand up and condemn this action by the Intelligence forces and their political masters in Australia.

This only highlights the dangers of the increased powers that the new 'increased' security legislation presented by the Howard government poses to our democratic rights: our freedom of speech, of assembly, of political affiliation etc, AND our right to engage in the political process through non-violent direct action.

Thinking about it, while so much seems too big, horrendous, cruel or inconceivable or down right petty to try to articulate a response to, some things, like this and
the botched US Fed's response to Hurricane Katrina, demand a response.

So, blog on.

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