With so much going on in Australia that's incredibly important and urgent, it seems rather odd that this is my first post in so long. So much has been happening, and when you've been so busy, it gets really hard to wrap your head around all the difficult and compelling issues quickly enough. But, better late than never.
The Howard government has proposed new anti-terror laws that are so draconian, some government backbenchers are getting nervous. They allow for security forces, namely ASIO and the police, to 'lock down' and entire neighbourhood, or even suburb, if they deem there to be a risk of terror activities brewing or about to occur in the area. That is bloody outrageous.
Their laws also reassert the nasty smell of sedition – that archaic but not so quaint institution of kings and despots. This is surely one of the most significant threats to our civil rights to free expression and political participation in Australia since the bloody twin towers came down – on the other side of the world. Sedition laws to cover undermining the government of the Commonwealth? Wouldn't half the lefty blogs in Australia come under that?
Howard also urgently recalled the Senate a couple of weeks back to get an amendment to currently existing anti-terror laws urgently passed through parliament and the Senate. He claims it was necessary for security forces (ASIO) to do their job in stopping an imminent threat of a terrorist attack in Australia (which the government had reliable intelligence for). That certainly took people's attention away from the Dickensian Industrial Relations laws that Howard introduced into parliament the same week.
And they say timing is everything in comedy.
The thing is, we'll never know if the timing was deliberate to draw fire away from the IR laws. Police arrested about 16 or so men in Sydney and Melbourne on the grounds that they belong to a terrorist organisation and were plotting acts of terrorist violence in one or both of the cities mentioned. (more on this in later blogs, but the ripples have only just begun).
The IR laws are in turn so draconian that it if I were still in my previous job, it would make me quake in my boots at the thought of the laws allowing the bunch of selfish, slack-ass, control-freak 20-something-year-olds who claimed to run my former place of employment, but rather ran it into the ground, the power sack me and my then colleagues without so much as an 'excuse me'.... chills my soul. The laws even outlaw including provisions for handling unfair dismissals in workplace agreements!
That would mean if a union and employer negotiated a workplace agreement that had a procedure for an employee to take steps to complain about being unfairly dismissed, or possibly steps requiring an employer to follow before they could sack someone – it would be illegal, exposing the union and the employer to fines!
Many a time I feel we are sliding down the slippery slope into mighty bloody big hole!
That's why people should make a huge effort to join the rallies against the IR laws on Tuesday. The union movement has organised actions across the country.
I would be going to the one in Melbourne, which is promising to be the biggest worker rally in ages – to match the monster ones held before – only I'm now in Sydney for a conference.
* nb: thanks to is-not-magazine for 'terror australis'.