11 July 2009

More double standards

Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull says that the Prime Minister should demand of the Chinese Government that it either charge detained Rio Tinto iron ore executive Mr Stern Hu, or release him. It is a basic human right, he says.

No doubt he has in mind the sort of robust representations that the government of which he was a member steadfastly refused to make to our great and glorious ally on behalf of Mamdouh Habib and David Hicks. Then Foreign Minister Alexander Downer never tired of telling us that David Hicks was one of “the worst of the worst”, a state of affairs that seemed in the Foreign Minister’s mind to have some bearing on Hicks’s right to due process.

Yet when the time came to haul Hicks before a military tribunal, the prosecutors were struggling to frame a charge that would pass the laugh test.

It would be interesting to know also how Mr Turnbull reconciles this basic human right with the draconian laws which the government in which he served enshrined in the nation’s anti-terror laws (legislation which, it has to be said, was passed with the enthusiastic support of the Australian Labor Party).

It is to the shame of both our major political parties that, amongst other important changes enacted under the anti-terror legislation, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) was converted overnight from a security intelligence organisation to a secret police force with extraordinary powers to arrest, detain and interrogate, with no serious debate and no noticeable preparation of either the organisation or its staff for this momentous change.

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