National Day of Action: Oppose Howard’s theft of our way of life
Monday November 14th 2005, 9:51 pm

image: nerdseyeview.negimaki.comAt no time in this nation’s entire history has one man done so much to damage our standard of living and the Australian way of life. Simultaneously as John Howard takes away your rights to contest unfair dismissal and halves the wages of the lowest paid in the workforce, he’s also taking away your right to dissent and public protest.

Despite counsel from the Law Society and numerous legal scholars, Howard indicates that he intends to enact his protection against criticism in the form of sedition laws. While Howard claims it’s merely an ‘update’ of the 1914 sedition laws, gone from the old laws is a requirement that sedition may only be committed in the course of advocating violent overthrow of the government. Now, all you need do is ‘urge disaffection’ against the Government.

If this is the way Howard wants to play, it’s tools down. Show John Howard that you will not play by his rules. No matter where you work, tomorrow, it’s out on the street.  

See you at Martin Place, 9:00am sharp.  


The fine print I missed
Thursday November 10th 2005, 10:59 am


Never read the fine print. If it was good news, it wouldn't be in fine print.

In a move I have been anticipating for some time, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer is now flagging that the Government will strip the citizenship of naturalised Australians convicted of terrorist offences:

The SMH quotes Downer’s comment to the ABC:

"It’s a difficult issue because on the one hand, naturally enough, people’s instinct would be to take someone’s citizenship away," Mr Downer told ABC radio.

"If you like they’ve betrayed our country by taking up arms against it, us having generously given them citizenship.

"On the other hand, there are all sorts of international legal issues that would have to be thought through.

"If you strip someone of citizenship you of course might leave them stateless.

"You might not, they might be dual citizens, and then in theory they could be returned to the country in which they have dual citizenship with if that country would accept them.

"So it wouldn’t necessarily be a simple matter of just getting rid of people that way."

Naturally, one of the terrorist offences which will cause one to lose their citizenship will be Howard’s idea of sedition, where you will be detained incommunicado on the mere suspicion of the police- and possibly even Parkinised.

Being that I am a dual US/Australian citizen, you can bet I am closely considering my options at this moment.

Do I: 

A. Retain US citizenship and risk being deported to a country I have not lived in for 9 years nor even visited in about 5+ years… and never wish to live in again, certainly not with neo-cons in (alleged) control of the White House… 


B. Renounce my US citizenship and be rendered stateless– and possibly incarcerated indefinitely in DIMIA hell- when Australia strips my naturalised citizenship for sedition, committed on this very blog. I lose the ability to vote in US federal elections and have to take the slow (non-citizen) queue at LAX, provided I ever get out of Baxter.

What’s your call? Hell or hell lite?

Since the 1958 reforms to the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948, Australian citizenship acquired by naturalisation has been deemed equivalent to that acquired by normal means. The only cause for revocation since 1958 is fraud in the course of the citizenship application. I don’t think I agreed not to voice my opinions when I filled out form 124, but perhaps I’ve missed something.

The mere suggestion by Minister Downer that naturalised citizenship may be stripped for terrorist offences, including the broadly discretionary sedition offences as proposed, do indeed give me second thoughts about what I write here- an undeniable chilling effect. This may be a direct infringement of what little assurances of freedom of expression we actually do have in Australia. Isn’t it about time for a Bill of Rights for all of Australia?

The proposal to once again make naturalised Australian citizenship a second class, red-headed stepchild to ‘regular’ citizenship means that the much vaunted cause of right wingers of assimilation of new citizens into Australian culture can never, ever happen. We will always be ‘other,’ never fully Australian, that is if we’re not simply deported. If Howard pulls this off, I never want to hear any complaints about enclaves of ethnicities in Australia ever again. May as well map out the ghettoes now.

Mind the fine print. John Howard lies.  


Wednesday November 09th 2005, 6:07 pm

Dominic Knight of The Chaser (image: Knight of The Chaser writes in the Radar section of the SMH:

Join our sedition-a-thon!
November 08, 2005

Want to bag out the Queen? Make fun of the Senate? Or simply advocate a bloody socialist revolution? Well, you’d better get your seditious speech in quickly, because it’s about to get banned. And to that end, we’re holding a sedition-a-thon right here on the Radar blog. So while you still can, why not get that negative comment about the Governor-General or the ADF off your chest right here on our webpage?

Until the law’s changed, of course, at which point we’ll delete all the posts immediately and send your personal details to ASIO.

We’re particularly looking for seditious statements that will, as the proposed new section 30A, part 3 of the Crimes Act defines it:

a) bring the Sovereign into hatred and contempt
b) urge disaffection against the following:
(i) the Constitution
(ii) the Government of the Commonwealth
(iii) either house of Parliament
c) (is actually a bit more reasonable – involving advocating unlawful behaviour – so let’s skip it)
d) to promote feelings of ill-will or hostility between different groups so as to threaten the peace order and good Government of the Commonwealth.

Part (d) is a bit unclear, so let’s just say that it would outlaw the fun of starting an argument between different groups via statements like "Fords suck, Holdens rule," or "Vespas are for wankers."

Knight points out in his piece that the sedition laws as they are written already criminalise the sort of thing you will regularly read on mgk. I foment disaffection with the Howard government in just about every post.

It’s your turn. Gentle readers of mgk are invited to jump into the comments and sedit!

Queen ugly? Parliament a largely self-serving joke? Constitution lacking in civil rights protections? Love Fords, hate Holdens? Say so!

With any luck, we’ll be having ASIO over for spag bol and a weighty political discussion pretty soon.  If I disappear for about 14 days and never explain it, at least you’ll know what happened.


Making the world safe for rich folk
Saturday November 05th 2005, 9:35 am


The worst impact of Howard’s corruption of the IR system will be sociological. Having grown up in the USA, I’m quite aware of the effect on the society of unfettered employer power to terminate without cause. It’s every man for himself. The employer’s power to terminate without just cause is frequently abused. Women and disabled people are the hardest hit when employers are no longer required to give just cause or be held to standards of fairness in dismissal. Dismissal for Howard’s catch-all ‘operational reasons‘ is no different than dismissal without cause. The fairness of dismissal cannot be challenged.

The value of a worker is diminished significantly in an employment-at-will environment. You work harder for less. Many people find it necessary to work a second job. Most find it impossible to be involved in civic affairs- they’re too busy putting food on the table. Family life suffers as children are estranged from their working parents. Political debate is stifled as no one has time for it.

The difference between the characters of Americans and Australians was obvious to me soon after I got off the plane in Sydney in 1996. Australia has a somewhat reasonable safety net for people who do become unemployed or disabled. It’s not the end of the road for you if you hit a rough patch in Australia. With at least the very bottom elements of your Maslow pyramid taken care of, it’s a whole lot easier for you to relax. I believe that this causes the character of Australians to be truly kinder and gentler. I live in Sydney, the largest city on this continent. I find the general character of Sydneysiders to be closer to that of people in a small midwestern American town than those in NYC, Chicago or LA.

On the other hand, after I was hit by a drink driver in the US in 1990, while unable to work, I teetered on the brink of bankruptcy as there is no national healthcare system and disability supports are wholly inadequate. I struggled to make minimum payments on the hundreds of thousands of dollars I had accumulated in medical bills, while being forced to wait years for settlement funds from the drunk’s insurance company.

Even after I returned to work, I lost jobs on cause of my inability to perform some duties due to disability- but always tasks which I could have done with some mechanical assistance or other minor compensatory workplace adjustment. If the employer had to actually give cause for discharging me, they would have been prohibited from doing so as a discrimination against a disabled worker. As it was, when I did lose a job in such a circumstance, the employer was able to escape such a discrimination claim at the sacrifice of having to bear responsibility for part of my unemployment benefits, as is the arrangement in the USA.

In the first couple of years after the accident, thanks to some assistance from my parents, I managed to get through it without my entire life crashing, but I returned to work long before I should have. I suffer greater disabilities now, 15 years after, than I would have if I had been able to recuperate properly. As a result, I’m now fully disabled, where I think I might still have had another 5-10 years of working life in me had the accident occurred in Australia.

WorkChoices is indeed flexibility- for employers. It will do nothing for the financial prospects of Australian workers, but it will have far reaching effects on the character of the Australian people- and their families.

There’s a place for John Howard’s dream employment environment. Trouble is, that place is about 10,000 miles northeast of here.



Friday November 04th 2005, 7:56 am




‘No comment on operational matters’

‘You may be discharged for operational reasons’

Sounds like Standard Operational Bullshit to me. ‘Operational’ is the new piss-off, you’re not getting any more information word.

You can be sure that if you hear Philip Ruddock, Amanda Vanstone, Kevin Andrews or John Howard utter this word, there is more to the story that you should know, but such would prove embarrassing and inconvenient to the government.


The HoWARd all-in-one terrorism ankle bracelet
Wednesday November 02nd 2005, 6:42 pm


John HoWARd has managed to get his   dissent  terrorism laws past the state and territory leaders. While Steve Bracks says the shoot-to-kill provisions have been removed,   dissent   terrorism suspects can still be placed under house arrest.

To make the home imprisonment more helpful to those wrongthinking   dissenters   terrorists, the R&D department of HoWARd Fascism Industries Pty Ltd have introduced the all-in-one terrorism ankle bracelet. It’s government- wherever you go!

It’s a GPS tracker! A 24/7 AM/FM propaganda receiver! Handy pedometer counts how many times the   dissent  terrorism suspect paces around their bedroom to help with weight control! Fair wage inhibitor gives an electric "tickle" when the   dissent   terrorism suspect tries to get fair pay and conditions! Plays MP3 files of John HoWARd speeches! Bluetooth mobile phone capacity allows the   dissent   terrorism suspect to call the National Security Hotline on themselves at any time! Automatic sedition detector and built in stereo surveillance microphones will have ASIO at dissent terrorism suspect’s doors just when they are about to sedit!

Get yours today! Put it next to your fridge magnet.


“Specific” terror threat- with no change to alert level?
Wednesday November 02nd 2005, 3:11 pm

The SMH sez:
Be alarmed. Be very, VERY alarmed.

Australian intelligence authorities have received specific information about a terrorist threat in Australia, Prime Minister John Howard says.

"The Government has received specific intelligence and police information this week, which gives cause for serious concern about a potential terrorist threat," he told reporters in Canberra

So, HoWARd says there is a credible and specific terrorism threat to Australia… but the alert level has not been raised? Crap. Why isn’t he on the scene with firehose and bomb disposal suit at the ready?

You are being sold a bill of goods– and it has been done before. Is this just a smokescreen to cover TerrorChoices?

If ever there was a time to be alarmed- it’s right spanking now.  Oh, and thanks for nothing, Beaz.  

Hat tip to Margo Kingston.


UPDATE: HoWARd says it’s mere coincidence that the ‘specific threat’ of terrorist activity in Australia was announced today and that it is not a smokescreen. Labor to back eleventh hour changes to terrorism laws.

The Parkin Precedent
Tuesday November 01st 2005, 5:29 pm

image: scottparkin.orgWhile he has been deported and is now back in the US, Scott Parkin is pursuing a challenge of his recent visa cancellation with the help of Greenpeace. Andrew Wilkie makes the point that if Parkin had committed acts in Australia which were actually threats to national security, Parkin would not have been deported- he would have been charged and committed to stand trial.

Civil rights advocates have been screaming doomsday about the amount of discretionary power afforded to the government, particularly in the redefinition of the offence of sedition. The HoWARD government has proven without doubt that they will abuse their authority. HoWARd’s draconian terrorism laws will not be used just to defend Australia from terrorism, but to protect the government from criticism.

ASIO chief Paul O’Sullivan admitted to a Senate committee last night (transcript on Webdiary) that Parkin had not been violent while visiting Australia. The actual reason why Parkin was declared a threat to national security has not yet been disclosed. "I think the Australian government was unhappy about people protesting at the conference," Parkin said. He may not be wrong.

There is no case which illustrates the need for a Bill of Rights for Australia better than the deportation of Scott Parkin, as well as suggests some founding language for such guarantees. In example, the US Constitution affords protection to all people on US soil. Conspicuous by its absence is the mention of ‘citizens’ in the language describing the individuals covered in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The preamble to the US Constitution even begins with ‘We The People.’ This is an assurance that liberty and justice are at least fundamentally available for all who are in the country. There’s no second class to the American freedom of speech. That’s a good act to follow.

If you have not written your Premier or Chief Minister about the lack of safeguards against arbitrary and capricious incarcerations and deportations under HoWARd’s terrorism laws, please take a moment to do so. Big thanks to all of them for at very least putting the brakes on the vote for today. Looks like Peter Beatty has a fairly good grasp on the failings of the legislation. Let’s hope there’s some appropriate checks and balances built into this material before it becomes law.


UPDATE: ASIO pays out an undisclosed sum for a bungled raid on a Sydney couple’s home in the weeks after September 11, 2001. ASIO had a warrant- but not for the address of the house they invaded.

We should trust ASIO to shoot to kill without warning and we should trust their suspicions as just cause to incarcerate when they can’t even raid the right house

I think not.