Ruddock insists upon criminalising criticism
Tuesday November 29th 2005, 10:14 am

Despite a bipartisan recommendation to drop the sedition provisions from Howard’s terror law proposals, Federal Attorney General Philip Ruddock is wedded to the idea of criminalising criticism of the government.

Ruddock wants the power to silence critics with a threat of up to 7 years imprisonment. The proposed sedition law as written will remove the test of ‘overthrowing the government by force,’ thus making an offence of mere commentary which "urges disaffection against the Government."

Ruddock says, "What I want to pursue is that the law operates as intended." Beware Ruddockspin. What is written is what is intended. Bloggers and journalists will be primary targets of ministerially enforced silence. While some argue that section 24F, the ‘Good Faith’ provision, will exempt political commentators and journalists, this appears to be at ministerial discretion.

You can presume that Ruddock is the worst case for an Attorney General. If any legal sanction is possible, you can be sure Ruddock will exercise it. If we don’t want people jailed for criticising the government or detained incommunicado without appropriate, confidential access to legal counsel, it should never be legally possible for the Attorney General to do so. Howard's sedition laws are a bear trap (image:

Ruddock wants the laws passed as drafted and proposes to fix them later. This is a bear trap. Once the government has the power to detain innocents, it will not give it up easily. Australia will then have the distinction of having genu-wine 100% political prisoners. This is a power no government should have for 10 seconds, much less for 10 years until the proposed sunset provision kicks in.

Don’t be fooled. These powers will only be used to protect the government from criticism, not protect Australians from terrorism.


12 Comments so far
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It’s hard to make a comment on this without launching into a tirade.

What kind of Attorney-General, in their right mind, would even suggest implementing such a law that is so easily open to abuse, and suggesting they’d fix it later? Unless, of course, they intended to abuse that law. How long would it take to redraft the sedition section? I’m guessing min. 5 minutes, max. one day. Not a lot of work there.

Comment by Evan 11.29.05 @ 9:29 pm

Oh, and he’s looking more like Emperor Palpatine every day. Compare Philip with Palpatine

Comment by Evan 11.29.05 @ 9:31 pm

Evan, you’ve sussed out Ruddockspin!

Onnnnnnnnnnnyas! 😀

Comment by weezil 11.29.05 @ 9:49 pm

Really? Well if I can do it with a bottle of Riesling accounted for, what’s wrong with everyone else?

Comment by Evan 11.29.05 @ 9:57 pm

Evan, I reckon it’s because some people are just not paying attention.

If one does not recognise the phrase “We’re from the government- and we’re here to help” as an oxymoron, one must not have all the wires connected.

The problem is that Ruddock is even more cynical than I am. He thinks the sedition provisions are a very funny joke- on us.

Comment by weezil 11.29.05 @ 10:16 pm

I’m wondering what they’re going to come up with next that is going to need sedition laws.

Comment by JahTeh 11.30.05 @ 4:28 pm

JT, sedition is kind of a catch-all. All you’ll need do is ‘urge disaffection against the government.’ Sedition laws have traditionally been used in Australia to suppress dissenting speech.

Comment by weezil 11.30.05 @ 7:47 pm

Yeah, that case cited in Wikipedia is one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen! Encouraging indigenous people to demand control of their own land equating to sedition is madness. And the proposed laws are tigher than the ones that eventualy sent Mr. Cooper into the great beyond.

Once again, I’ve got a bottle and a bit of wine accounted for, and I can see it. What’s wrong with the rest of the population?

Comment by Evan 12.01.05 @ 9:33 pm

So commenting about IR reforms also constitutes sedition.

Comment by JahTeh 12.01.05 @ 9:46 pm

I’m actually a bit surprised by the anti-government cartoons in the Courier Mail, Rupert’s Queensland publication. Have a look at this and this.

Comment by Evan 12.02.05 @ 5:59 am

Evan, that IS unusual for Murdochian media…

Comment by weezil 12.02.05 @ 8:16 pm

[…] However, the Sydney Morning Herald, Washington Post, FDB, mgk and Google are not ‘public venues’ and hopefully are not being controlled by the government. They are private venues with private operators. None may be compelled to submit to government content control (with the exception of the SMH, which can be ordered to supress content on the whim of publicly unverifiable ‘national security’ concerns under recent draconian anti-terror legislation in Australia) and none are responsible for protecting anyone’s free speech rights. That’s the government’s turf. […]

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