The Null Device

Sledgehammer politics

Under new national-security laws in Australia, if the government doesn't like something you're likely to say, they can send teams around to raid you and smash your computers. And if you tell anyone about it afterwards, you go to jail.
CARMEL TRAVERS: Bear in mind that I was only one of many people whose computers were being cleansed and within the officers who came into my office, there was almost a boast. Because I apologised to them and I said, "Look, it's a bit cramped in here, I'm sorry you haven't got much room to work." "Don't worry, we're used to this. We do this every day." And I said, "Oh, really? How often have you done it?" "Oh, 70, 72 or 73 times." It was almost a boast and it was not a rare event, and I found that alarming.
ANDREW WILKIE: I think a lot of it was just theatre meant to put pressure on people, almost to bully them. I think it was intended to send a very clear signal to the media, to the publishing industry, to me that they needed to be very, very careful about criticising the Government. I think the Government's behaviour was intended very clearly to send a signal to my former colleagues that, you know, you don't cross them, you don't resign, you don't speak out.
DR DAVID WRIGHT NEVILLE: The sort of environment that many critics of this government now work under, many of us do feel that we are constantly surveilled, we do feel that we are constantly being harassed in some ways. One only needs to write an opinion piece for the newspaper and one can get a phone call from someone in the Government asking for clarification or pointing out things, and that never used to happen in the past.
All this is made possible thanks to the powers in the anti-terrorism laws, which can be exercised without oversight, giving those at the reins of power the means to put the frighteners on anyone they don't like the look of like never before. The laws are due to expire next year, though ASIO, the national security agency, is calling on them to be made permanent. Given the iron discipline of Australian party politics, they stand a chance of getting this.

There are 5 comments on "Sledgehammer politics":

Posted by: datakid Tue Apr 4 12:14:15 2006

smash your computers might be a bit emotional.

weird seeing DWN on our side. He was an interesting lecturer at uni (the politics of sex, drug and rock and roll, with the Peter Lentini Show) but his politics suck big time.

Posted by: cos Wed Apr 5 00:02:51 2006

Peter Lentini! wow, that takes me back to my 3MU days...I didn't take the subject(s), though I did drop into one of his lectures...

Posted by: steff http://ofterdingenandkro Wed Apr 5 05:41:08 2006

One feels that these "fascist" realities are a kind of open secret in Western society. If all goes well ppl in 50 years will wonder, naively, dismayed, scandalised, "how" this could have happened etc. We're currently in a phase of naivety where what happened during the "totalitarian" era is forgotten, viewed with disbelief or viewed as an impossible "other" that would never happen. Says my realism/pessimism.

Posted by: acb http://dev.null.org/ Wed Apr 5 10:27:31 2006

And of course, everyone knows that it's not fascism because they don't have jackboots, mass rallies or imposing black-white-and-red symbols. The world can rest easily, knowing that Hitler and Mussolini will never menace it again.

Posted by: Sidewalk Anthropologist Thu Apr 6 09:21:07 2006

That's right. Being a totally egalitarian society, such things would never occur in Australia. Now I can sleep better knowing that our government is working hard to "uphold national security" and protecting me from evil people like Carmel Travers and Andrew Wilkie. And if you can't trust the government, who can you trust?

Interestingly, my sister was studying terrorism under DWN at that time and recalled the suits were following his students (and her) around the library and checking what they'd borrowed. A couple of them were also raided and searched on the same grounds as these people.

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