Thoughtcrime, Australian style
Saturday October 22nd 2005, 8:17 pm

You feeling safer yet?

Believe it or not, John HoWARd’s proposed terrorism law is not terribly novel regarding the specification of what speech can be deemed sedition. Since 1914, it has been a crime punishable by up to three years imprisonment to engage in seditious enterprises:


Seditious enterprises – A person who engages in a seditious enterprise with the intention of causing violence, or creating public disorder or a public disturbance, is guilty of an indictable offence punishable on conviction by imprisonment for not longer than 3 years.

HoWARd’s   draft   daft terrorism laws would repeal sections 24A-F of the Crimes Act 1914 and replace them with a new, but similar definition of seditious intention:

seditious intention means an intention to effect any of the
following purposes:

  • (a) to bring the Sovereign into hatred or contempt;
  • (b) to urge disaffection against the following:
    • (i) the Constitution;
    • (ii) the Government of the Commonwealth;
    • (iii) either House of the Parliament;
  • (c) to urge another person to attempt, otherwise than by lawful means, to procure a change to any matter established by law in the Commonwealth;
  • (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.

However, as usual, the devil is in the detail. Gone from the 1914 Crimes Act is the specification that seditious enterprises must be committed in the course of encitement of others to overthrow the government by force in order to be an indictable offence. It doesn’t appear that you must necessarily have the intention of overthrowing of the government by force under HoWARd’s proposals. All you have to do to be guilty of seditious intention is ‘urge disaffection against the Government.’

George Orwell had a name for HoWARd style sedition: thoughtcrime.

You feeling safer yet?


12 Comments so far
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You gonna be running a pro-sedition fax campaign? I’ll sign my name to that.

Comment by Flashman 10.23.05 @ 2:23 am

Flash, count on it. Fax machine is greased up, tyre pressures checked. 😉

Comment by weezil 10.23.05 @ 7:15 am

You might also want to check the section in the draft legislation where they claim universal jurisdiction not just for sedition, but also for treason. I’m sure the rest of the world will just be thrilled to know they now owe loyalty to the Australian government, even if they’ve never been there (or even if they are being shot at or bombed by them).

Comment by Idiot/Savant 10.23.05 @ 12:14 pm

I thought the Americans were the only ones claiming universal jurisdiction.

Another HoWARd spin that I’m truly sick-to-death of is the comparison of his proposed terrorism laws to those in the UK. Australia does not have a Bill of Rights. UK citizens have access to the EU Constitution and Bill of Rights, which offer some protection against draconian ‘preventative detention.’ Aussies will just be ‘disappeared.’

Comment by weezil 10.23.05 @ 12:22 pm

…comparison of his proposed terrorism laws to those in the UK.“:

In any case the UK is, IMO, not a good model for us (or anybody) in the matter of liberty and democracy. They have had a lot of nasty laws on the books for many years and there have been injustices there as a result.

Comment by Peter F Bradshaw 10.23.05 @ 12:38 pm

About (d) does that include Australian Family Assoc. for being homophobic and One Nation for being racist? I was just looking for the pony in this pile of #*@*.

Comment by JahTeh 10.23.05 @ 2:28 pm

JT, the problem is that you’re looking for a pony.

You should be looking for the bull. 😉

Comment by weezil 10.23.05 @ 2:46 pm

So wouldn’t the sedition laws technically make all opposition MP’s criminals?

Comment by Evan 10.23.05 @ 6:38 pm

Many countries claim universal jurisdiction for war crimes (Australia among them), and even more for piracy. But it simply makes no sense for treason and sedition. These are crimes of disloyalty, and therefore it is utterly nonsensical to seek to apply them to people who have no conceivable obligation of loyalty to Australia.

To see how nonsensical this is, simply turn it around. Would John Howard be happy to be prosecuted in Iraq for calling for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein? I think not.

Comment by Idiot/Savant 10.23.05 @ 9:03 pm

Evan, it sounds like it doesn’t it? Mind you, the outrageous proposals HoWARd has made are not an ambit log. We know this because HoWARd insists his proposed laws don’t contain any ambits. We should trust him, shouldn’t we?

Shouldn’t we?

Comment by weezil 10.24.05 @ 6:49 am

I/S, too right. I’m more than half waiting to be prosecuted for treason for holding two citizenships.

Comment by weezil 10.24.05 @ 6:51 am

A Bill of Rights does exist in the Australian Capital Territory. Thanks to Jon Stanhope and others. Have not seen it,but, possibly a good template.

Comment by joe2 10.25.05 @ 7:37 pm

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